Delicious & Spicy: Traditional Palestinian Harissa Recipe

Are you looking for a unique and delicious dessert recipe to impress your family and friends? Look no further than this Palestinian Harissa recipe! In the Middle East, Harissa is a widely popular name for many types of dishes, but this particular recipe refers to a sweet dessert made with semolina flour and soaked in sugar syrup.

Harissa, also known as basbousa, namoura cake, or revani depending on which country you are in, is a super moist and rich dessert that can be enjoyed on its own or accompanied by some coconut yogurt or whipped cream. Its origins can be traced back to Palestine and Jordan, but it has become a staple in many Middle Eastern countries. You might have heard about the spicy harissa paste used in savory dishes, but this harissa we are talking about today is sweet and delicious!

This harissa recipe has been tested and perfected to ensure that even the novice baker can make it with ease. It uses simple ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry already – semolina, sugar, butter, baking powder, yogurt and almonds – yet yields incredible results that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

If you are looking to add some Middle Eastern flair to your dessert repertoire, look no further than this Palestinian Harissa recipe. So gather your ingredients and let’s get baking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Palestinian Harissa
Palestinian Harissa

Are you ready to embark on a journey through Middle Eastern flavors? Look no further than this Palestinian Harissa recipe. Trust me, this dessert is sure to become a new family favorite.

What’s not to love about a dessert made of a super moist semolina cake soaked in sugar syrup and topped with almonds? This harissa dessert, also known as basbousa, is a staple Middle Eastern sweet that is popular from Palestine to Jordan and beyond.

With its simple ingredients of semolina flour, sugar syrup, and coconut yogurt, this recipe is easy to make but yields impressive results. Plus, it’s a great way to satisfy your sweet cravings without overly indulging in calories.

But don’t take my word for it – the Palestinian Harissa recipe has been tested and approved by many food enthusiasts around the world. It’s so good that I promise you’ll be looking for excuses to make it again and again!

So why not add a little bit of Middle Eastern charm to your dessert menu with this Palestinian Harissa recipe? Your taste buds will thank you for it!

Ingredient List

 The fiery red Harissa is a staple in Palestine and Middle Eastern cuisine.
The fiery red Harissa is a staple in Palestine and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Ingredients You Will Need

To make Palestinian Harissa, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 3 cups of semolina
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

Ingredients for Sugar Syrup

For the sugar syrup, you will need:

  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • Juice of one medium-sized lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

Optional Garnish and Mix-ins

For garnish and mix-ins, you can use:

  • Toasted almonds
  • Drizzle of tahini
  • Dollop of Greek-style plain yoghurt
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Most of these ingredients can be found at your local grocery store, but if you cannot find some, they may be ordered online or substituted with a similar ingredient.

The Recipe How-To

 This condiment is not for the faint of heart. It packs a punch of heat with a complex earthy flavor.
This condiment is not for the faint of heart. It packs a punch of heat with a complex earthy flavor.

Now that we’ve gone through the ingredients list, it’s time to move on to the most important step – making Palestinian Harissa Recipe! This recipe is not difficult, but it requires some time and patience to get it right. Below, I’ve provided detailed instructions on how to make harissa palestinian harissa dessert.

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

First, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Step 2: Prepare the Batter

Next, in a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of Semolina Flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of Baking Powder. Mix well with a spoon or a whisk to avoid any lumps.

Then, add 1 cup of Yogurt, 1/2 cup of Melted Butter (Unsalted), and 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice into the bowl. Mix again until you have a smooth batter.

Step 3: Pour the Batter into Baking Dish

Grease a baking dish (9×13 inch) with some melted butter. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and spread it evenly using a spatula.

Step 4: Create Diamond-Shaped Pattern on Batter

Use a knife, create a diamond-shaped pattern on the surface of the batter without cutting through. Then, place one almond in each diamond-shaped pattern, pressing lightly until embedded in batter.

Step 5: Bake

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown.

After baking, remove from oven and let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Step 6: Serve with Syrup

Prepare sugar syrup by combining 4 cups of sugar with 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat then stir in 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Pour over cake while still warm.

Enjoy your homemade Palestinian Harissa Recipe!

Substitutions and Variations

 A spoonful of homemade Palestinian Harissa is all you need to elevate your meal.
A spoonful of homemade Palestinian Harissa is all you need to elevate your meal.

There are several ways to make this Palestinian Harissa recipe unique and tailor it to your personal taste preferences. Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try out:

– Sugar: You can substitute regular sugar with coconut sugar or honey if you prefer a natural sweetener.

– Tahini: If you don’t have tahini, an excellent substitute is almond butter or peanut butter.

– Yoghurt: Greek yoghurt or coconut yoghurt can be used instead of regular yoghurt for a dairy-free option.

– Almonds: Replace almonds with any other type of nuts like pistachios or cashews.

– Lemon juice: Lime juice can be used as a substitute for the lemon juice if needed.

– Spiciness level: The spiciness level of the harissa paste can be adjusted by altering the number of red chili peppers used.

– Middle Eastern twist: Adding cinnamon and/or cardamom to the syrup gives the harissa dessert a touch of Middle Eastern flavour.

– Fruit puree addition: For an added fruity twist, mix some fruit puree like apricot or mango into the syrup before pouring it onto the hot cake.

Remember, the possibilities are endless with this harissa recipe! Feel free to experiment with different combinations and find what works best for you.

Serving and Pairing

 Each ingredient in this recipe contributes to the unique taste and texture of this spicy paste.
Each ingredient in this recipe contributes to the unique taste and texture of this spicy paste.

If you’re serving this Palestinian Harissa recipe as a dessert, you can enjoy it on its own or with a dollop of tahini or Greek yogurt on top. The nutty and sweet flavor of the harissa dessert pairs perfectly with the tangy tartness of the yogurt.

For a more elaborate presentation, you can drizzle some sweet sugar syrup on top of the harissa and garnish with slivered almonds or ground pistachios. The sugar syrup adds another layer of sweetness to the dessert while the nuts provide a crunchy texture that blends well with the soft semolina cake.

If you’re looking for a savory pairing, this harissa paste is an excellent complement to grilled chicken or vegetables. Add some spice to your next BBQ by grilling some chicken marinated in harissa paste, and pair it with a side of rice or grilled veggies for a Middle Eastern inspired meal.

For an alternative serving suggestion, try making a coconut yogurt-semolina cake using the same recipe for the harissa but add in some shredded coconut to the mixture. This cake has a more tropical flavor profile and pairs well with fresh fruit such as mango or pineapple.

Overall, this Palestinian Harissa recipe is incredibly versatile and can be served either as a sweet dessert or spicy condiment. Experiment with different serving options and find your favorite way to enjoy this delicious Middle Eastern delight!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The bright color of the Harissa comes from the combination of red pepper flakes and paprika.
The bright color of the Harissa comes from the combination of red pepper flakes and paprika.

One of the best things about Palestinian Harissa is that it can be made ahead of time, stored, and reheated later. This makes it very convenient for busy weeknights or when you are hosting a dinner party.

To make ahead, simply bake the Harissa as directed in the recipe, and let it cool completely. Once cooled, cover it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. It will keep well for up to 3 days.

To reheat, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Remove the Harissa from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then, remove the covering, sprinkle some water all over it, and cover it again. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

You can also freeze the Harissa for longer storage. Allow it to cool completely after baking, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Seal in a freezer-safe bag and store in your freezer for up to one month.

To thaw frozen Palestinian Harissa, remove it from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. Once thawed completely, you can follow the reheating instructions mentioned above.

Overall, Palestinian Harissa is a versatile dessert that can be easily made ahead of time and stored without losing its taste or texture. Whether you want to serve your guests on a special occasion or have a quick dessert fix any time of day; this delicious cake has got you covered.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The addition of ground cumin and coriander seeds brings out the warm, smoky flavor of the Harissa.
The addition of ground cumin and coriander seeds brings out the warm, smoky flavor of the Harissa.

When it comes to making Palestinian Harissa, there are a few key tips that can help you achieve perfect results every time. As a chef, I have tested this recipe numerous times and found the following tips to be crucial for success.

Firstly, using high-quality ingredients is essential. The taste of harissa is heavily influenced by the quality of the semolina flour used. Look for a fine-grain semolina flour that will absorb moisture well and yield a fluffy harissa dessert. Similarly, be sure to use fresh and flavorful yogurt and almonds.

Secondly, be sure to measure your ingredients precisely. This recipe has specific ratios of ingredients that have been tested to work together harmoniously. Use a kitchen scale or measuring cups and spoons to ensure accuracy.

Another tip is to not over mix your batter. Once all the ingredients are incorporated into the mixture, stop mixing immediately. Over-mixing will result in tougher and denser harissa.

To prevent your harissa from sticking to the pan, generously butter the pan before pouring in the batter. Additionally, make sure not to open the oven door during baking as it can cause your harissa to deflate.

Lastly, while it may be tempting to enjoy your harissa as soon as it comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. This ensures that the syrup has time to fully soak into the cake, resulting in a moist and delicious dessert.

By following these tips, you can make a stunning Palestinian Harissa that will impress even the most discerning guests.


Now that you know how to make a delicious Palestinian Harissa dessert, you might have some questions about the recipe. Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions and their answers so that you can get started with confidence.

Is Basbousa the same as harissa?

The dessert we will be working on today goes by the name Basbousa in the Middle East, but don’t be surprised if you hear it called Hareesa elsewhere in the region. It’s essential to note that this dessert is entirely different from the North African red sauce with the same name.

Is harissa Middle Eastern?

A fiery and fragrant condiment known as harissa is a commonly used ingredient in the cuisine of North Africa and the Middle East.

What is harissa dessert made of?

One of the beloved sweet treats from the Middle East is the Namoura Cake, also referred to as Basbousa or Harissa. This delectable dessert is crafted using semolina flour as the main ingredient and finished off with a sweet and straightforward sugar syrup topping.

What does harissa sauce contain?

The components of harissa paste are straightforward and uncomplicated. Typically, the paste consists of red chilies, garlic, oil, an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, and an assortment of spices.

Bottom Line

With its origins deeply rooted in the Middle East and North Africa, Palestinian Harissa is a dessert that you can now easily make in the comfort of your own kitchen. The recipe may seem a bit daunting at first, but with a bit of patience and practice, you will be enjoying this rich and super moist treat in no time.

Whether you’re looking to impress your friends at a dinner party or simply seeking a dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further than the Palestinian Harissa recipe. By following these instructions and using fresh and high-quality ingredients, you can create a delectable Palestinian Harissa that will transport your taste buds straight to Palestine.

So what are you waiting for? Get into the kitchen, gather your ingredients, and start preparing this authentic and mouth-watering dessert today! Once you take that final bite of the sweet Harissa, you’ll know that all your efforts were worth it. Trust me – this is one dish that you won’t forget any time soon.

Palestinian Harissa

Palestinian Harissa Recipe

sweets from Palestinian kitchen
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Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Condiment/Sauce
Cuisine Palestinian
Calories 541 kcal


For the harissa

  • 3 cups semolina
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 tea spoon baking powder
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 table spoon tahini

For the syrup

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of


  • 1. For the preparation of syrup : in a pot on the fire boil water and sugar together and let it boil for 10 minutes and then add the lemon juice and let boil two minutes and put it a side to cool .
  • 2. For the preparation of harissa , in a bowl mix the butter,semolina and sugar , together until homogeneous .
  • 3. In another bowl , mix yogurt and baking powder together and leave 10 minutes until yoghurt is double sized.
  • 4. Add the yogurt mixture and baking powder to the mixture of semolina and mix by hand again until homogeneous components.
  • 5.brush the bottom and sides of a baking tray with tahini ,spread out the dough over a thickness of not more than a centimeter and a half and level the surface and then divide into squares.
  • 6.put almonds in the center of squares ,place inside the oven pre- heated to 250 ° C for 30 to 45 minutes until golden brown.
  • 7.Remove from oven and pour the syrup cut into serving dish
  • .

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 186gCalories: 541kcalCarbohydrates: 95.2gProtein: 7.3gFat: 15.6gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 33.2mgSodium: 132.4mgFiber: 2.3gSugar: 63.7g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Dessert, Middle Eastern, Palestinian
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