Basbousa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)

Basbousa Aka Harissa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)Who’s feeling festive today? Now, don’t let the beauty of this popular classic Middle Eastern cake fool you. It’s actually super easy to make. What if I told you it’s a one bowl “dump” cake kinda recipe?

You know that’s my favorite type of recipe. You basically pour all the ingredients (both dry and wet) into a bowl and stir with a spoon, pour into baking dish and that’s basically it.

There’s also the syrup. It’s a combination of water and sugar which is boiled for 10 mins then poured on the cake once it’s baked. The result.. Delicious moist and flavorful bars of gold. 
Basbousa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)


I’ve made cake at least a 100 times over the years and to be quite honest there’s no perfect way of making it. This cake is very popular all over the Middle East and every country makes it slightly different. For example, In Syria and Palestine they make the recipe with yogurt and coconut while in Egypt it’s called Haressa and only water is used. Some other places around the Mid-East also add eggs to make it more of a cake rather than bars.

I make it I make a few changes and try different this but this is my favorite way of making it. I use yogurt or sour cream because it give the cake a creamy flavor that’s irresistible.Basbousa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)

Basbousa Aka Harissa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)

4.8 from 6 reviews
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 bars


  • 2 cups coarse semolina
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 Stick (1⁄2 cup) unsweetened butter, melted
  • 1⁄3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (or Sour Cream)
  • 1⁄3 cup whole Roasted or blanched almonds (to garnish) or ⅓ pistachios or cashews

  • For The Syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater (not rose extract, OPTIONAL)
  • 1 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 9x9 or 8x8 square pan or a 9'' round pie dish with butter or olive oil and set aside.

  2. Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, baking soda, and the butter in a large bowl. Use your hands to incorporate the butter with the other ingredients until mixed well. Add the yogurt and continue mixing with your hands until fully combined.The mixture should be fairly thick and easy to press with hands (not thin like cake or brownie batter)

  3. press the mix down onto square baking dish or round pie pan.The cake mix should be about 1 inch thick.Cut a diamond or square design in the cake with a butter knife. Place an almond or any other type of nut you have on hand onto each pre-cut square.

  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 min to 40 mins until it's a bronze brown color. If no color forms on the top turn on broiler for 1-2 minutes until the top is golden/bronze. Cut the Cake again along the pre-cut lines and pour cold syrup on top while its hot so it can absorb all through.

  6. While the cake is baking, Mix all the ingredients for the syrup and place in saucepan on high until it boils. Boil for 10 minutes or until the syrup coats the back of a spoon.

Basbousa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)Basbousa (Coconut Yogurt Semolina Cake)


  • Mujeeb

    I think it tastes better without the coconut flakes. With coconut it becomes a bit chewy and coconut does not add much to the taste either.
    I also increased the amount of yogurt to one and a half cup which made it softer.

  • Linda

    I haven’t made this yet but I was wondering….what kind of coconut, flaked, unsweetened shredded, coconut flour, sweetened shredded coconut???

  • Chanita

    This is soo delicious and so simple to make it’s almost unbelievable.
    Thank you so much for sharing this!
    Salam <3

  • Jada

    Excellent recipe! this is the most authentic Egyptian basboosa recipe I found. It tastes just like the basboosa I tried when I was vacationing in Egypt. Thank you for posting it!

  • veronica

    I just made it and came so good! I think the day after will be better because flavors mingle among them. I have to wait till tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe!!!!

  • Salwa Beheiry

    Hi! I am Egyptian from Alexandria and grew up calling this dessert “Hareessa or Harissa”. When I went to study at Cairo University I was my first time for me to hear people calling this Basboussa. So who knows what is called where! It is definitely so good and so easy to prepare.
    Thank you for sharing

  • PS Fam

    You have things reversed in your description. In Egypt it is not called haressa, it’s basbousa, in Syria and Palestine it’s Haressa (in lebanon its namoura). Also we make it with yougurt and coconut, though this tends to be optional. It is some times made with water or juice and oil instead of butter to make it vegan,because Copts (native egyptian Orthodox Christians) eat no animal products during periods of fasting such as Lent.

    • Layla

      I’m so glad you pointed that out, Mais! I will add it to the recipe now. I use the coarse #2 Semolina. The Finer semolina does not work well with this dessert!!

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