This semolina and yoghurt slice is one of the simplest desserts you can make for a dinner party. Its fragrance is derived from an aromatic sugar syrup (atter), made with rosewater and orange blossom water. This recipe also uses mahlab, a powerful spice with notes of bitter almond and cherry to add extra dimension.
1–2 tbsp tahini (see Note)
360 g (2 cups) coarse semolina
55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mahlab (optional) (see Note)
1 cup natural yoghurt
100 g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp orange blossom water
handful of raw almonds, pistachios, peanuts or pine nuts to decorate
Sugar syrup (atter)
440 g (2 cups) white sugar
250 ml (1 cup) water
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rosewater
2 tsp orange blossom water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Grease a 30 cm x 20 cm baking tray with tahini.
Combine the semolina, sugar, baking powder and mahlab (if using) in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre then add the yoghurt, butter, rose and orange water and mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and smooth the surface. Make shallow slice impressions measuring 4 cm x 4 cm and dot each piece with your preferred nut. Set aside for 1 hour.
Meanwhile to make the sugar syrup combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 7–8 minutes until a light syrup forms. Add the lemon juice, remove from heat and add the rose and orange water. Set aside to cool.
Preheat panggangan to 180ºC. Place the tray in the panggangan and bake for 45–50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove tray from the panggangan and while still hot, cut the slices along the impressions, then pour over cooled sugar syrup. Cool in the tray before serving.
• Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is available from most supermarkets.
• Mahlab is available from Middle Eastern grocery stores.
Photography by Alan Benson