My mom’s basbousa recipe below:)

Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of the Islamic month of fasting, is all about consuming sweets. Well, at least that’s what I grew up believing –and I have happily upheld this tradition up to today. After a month of fasting from sunrise until sunset, which tends to constrict your appetite, pastries, sweets and cookies are served up in large quantities during the three days of Eid al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast). The best part is, after cutting down consumption during Ramadan, I don’t feel guilty about devouring these rich, sweet, buttery desserts.

There are so many varieties of sweets served across the Arab world during Eid. Kahk (or maamoul) is a particular favourite in Egypt and other countries: small pastries stuffed with dates, walnuts or pistachios and doused in powdered sugar. Ghorayebah biscuits, baklava and kunafeh (a Middle Eastern pastry made from a vermicelli-like pastry) are other crowd favourites.

During Eid, extended family members generally visit one another to congratulate each other on a successful Ramadan and pass along Eid greetings. These sweets, often bought at bakeries, will be served as part of the celebrations.

Apart from my sister, I haven’t any family or extended family in town this year. Hence, we have no major socialising events to attend. I suppose because of this, it slipped my mind to stock up on pastries at the end of Ramadan. I woke up this morning realising there wasn’t a traditional sweet in the house to help us celebrate.

So I pulled out my handy compilation of mom’s dessert recipes and decided to make basbousa, a sweet pastry made from semolina and coconut and drizzled in syrup. While I have had this recipe on file for years, today was the first time I tried to make it on my own.

The basbousa turned out quite well (I ate two portions before dinner). As usually occurs when I try one of my mom’s recipes, however, the basbousa wasn’t quite the same as when she makes it. This never fails. I can follow my mom’s main course or dessert recipes to a tee and yet they will always turn out a little off, as though her touch triggers a latent flavour in every dish that cannot be replicated by anyone else.

In any case, the basbousa is still yummy enough to share, so I’ve included the recipe below for those interested in indulging in some guilt-free dessert consumption this Eid.

While Ramadan is over, many Muslims will continue to fast with less frequency in Shawwal, the lunar month that follows Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. Eid is declared once the sighting of a new moon marks the start of Shawwal. There are said to be spiritual benefits for fasting six days during the month of Shawwal, following the Eid celebration. Fasting outside of Ramadan is one way to help carry the spirit of the month through the year, which I elaborated on in July in my blog entry, ‘Fasting to Feed the Soul’.

A joyous Eid to all and happy eating!

My mom’s basbousa

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup wheatlets (semolina)

1 cup coconut

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

¼ cup to ½ cup yogurt

Syrup

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla powder

Juice from ¼ of a lemon, freshly squeezed

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 180C.

2) Prepare the syrup. Combine sugar, water and vanilla powder in a saucepan at high heat. Bring to a boil and then simmer for five minutes to form a syrup. Leave to cool.

3) Mix together flour, wheatlets, coconut and baking powder in medium bowl. Fold in butter and mix until well-combined. Add yogurt to mixture and combine until batter is smooth.

4) Spread the mixture into greased large circular or rectangular baking dish and pat down until it is evenly spread across the pan. (I used two square baking dishes this time, but would have preferred making it in one larger pan)

Take a sharp knife and slice cake into diamond or square shapes. Arrange almonds on top so that each cut slice will hold an almond.

5) Bake for about 30 minutes until golden.

6) Remove cake from oven and immediately pour the syrup over the cake while it is still in the baking dish. Allow basbousa to absorb the syrup and cool down before removing from tray and serving.

Enjoy!!

 
Remove from the oven once it is golden…
 
Then drench the cake in the prepared syrup..
 
And leave it until the syrup is completely absorbed. Ready to eat!
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