My Debut in Walima Cooking Club :Egyptian Special - Koshary and Basbousa(Semolina cake)

In Arlette's words-
"The Arabic word Walima (banquet) is derived from the root word Walam, which literally means to gather and assemble. The Arabs used it for a meal or feast where people were invited and gathered to eat and celebrate for days, either for new born babies, a traveler returning home or for weddings.Later the term became exclusive for banquet celebration."
(The Logo is from one of Lebanese famous Painter, Mustapha Faroukh’s “Still Life Album".)

Walima cooking club celebrates Middle Eastern food.Each month foodies(members of the club) around the world cook a specialty dish of the region.The July 2009, Challenge was choosen by Talented Chahira from Chahira's Cuisine.She choose 2 prominent dishes of Egyptian Cuisine,Koshary and Basbouussa.


Koshary is one of the popular street foods in Egypt,its savored like the Chole chaat in India and Burger in USA.The layers of pasta,rice and lentils are topped with spicy tomato sauce,chickpeas and the crispy fried onions.This is complete vegan meal,the flavors are simple and spicy yet unforgettably delicious.

There is little one can go wrong with the easy recipe.I like the spice from the chili and sweet crispy bits of onion and with lentils,rice and pasta all in one ,the meal was thoroughly fulfilling.

Koshary Recipe
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup rice (I used brown and wild rice blend)
1/2 pound whole grain pasta
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt

For the fried onions :
2 medium onions,sliced
2 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil

For Spicy tomato sauce(salsa)
2 cups tomato puree or 1 can(8 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 a medium onion,finely chopped.
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
1 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil

Cook lentils ,pasta and rice
Cook all the 3 separately in salted water.
Cook the rice with 2 cups of water and some salt until tender but not mushy.set aside.
Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente,drain and set aside.
Cook the lentil in 2cups of salted water until tender about 30 minutes in a covered skillet and 9-10 minutes in a pressure cooker on medium heat.drain any excess water.

Fry the Onions
Heat the oil in a large pan,add the onions and saute until nicely brown,stir occasionally.When done transfer on to a paper towel to strain excess oil.
Prepare the tomato sauce
In the same pan ,Saute onions until soft, then add garlic and fry to a pale brown. Add tomato puree,chili powder,cumin and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is cooked and becomes thick . Add vinegar ,pepper and salt, cook 2-3 more minutes .
To serve
Arrange a layer of cooked pasta,lentils and rice on each of the serving plates.Top with tomato sauce and garnish with fried onions and cooked chickpeas .Serve with a bowl full of Dakka on side.

Suggested Accompaniment - Dakka(Vinegar cumin garlic sauce)
Ingredients needed:
2 teaspoon cumin seeds ,coarsely ground
4 garlic cloves
1/2 a cup of vinegar
1/2 a cup of hot water
1 teaspoon of hot chili
salt and pepper

To make Dakka :
Take garlic cloves and hit them with the end of the knife, but don't break them up. Add into white vinegar and water mix. Add some cumin and coriander into the vinegar as well as salt and pepper and hot chili. Stir and let sit for an hour.Serve on side with Koshary.

Basbouussa(Semolina Cake)

Most celebrated dessert of Egypt,is also famous in other Arab countries.The following is Chahira's Egyptian Basbouussa with Semolina,coconut and yogurt.I made few changes in the sugar and fat quantities,my usual fiddling to make a dessert lower in fat and sugar(Hope you don't mind chahira).
I always spotted this dessert in the middle eastern stores,is almost as popular as baklava.The tantalizing dessert had nice and moist texture,I was pleased to be able to bake one fresh at home.

2 cups fine Semolina(sooji) or semolina flour
1 tablespoon baking powder.
1/2 cup dry coconut
3 tablespoon pure ghee(vegan substitute :Virgin pressed Coconut oil)
1 tablespoon Orange blossom water or rose water or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup fat free yogurt.(vegan substitute :Soy yogurt)
1/4 cup white or brown sugar(or use half agave nectar & half sugar)

For lite sugar syrup
1/2 cup white or brown sugar*(or use half agave nectar & half sugar)
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon lemon juice.
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water

Tahini and some butter to grease the baking tray.
1/2 cup whole or chopped nuts for garnish(I used almonds)

*for heavy syrup use equal quantity of water and sugar.

In a large bowl,mix the semolina, baking powder, coconut, sugar, ghee, yogurt and blossom water until smooth and well incorporated.
Grease the baking dish little bit of butter(or coconut oil) and tahini, you can use just Tahini.Pour your basbouusa dough and spread it evenly .Garnish it choicest dry fruits and nuts,insert them partially in to the mixture.Set the tray aside for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to the dish in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Prepare the syrup
While the basbousa bakes,prepare the syrup.Boil the sugar,blossom water and water in a small saucepan,until bubbly and in thread point stage.Pour the warm syrup over the warm basbousa.let the flavors soak in for an hour at least.Then slice in squares and serve.

Thank you Chahira for the delicious picks.And Thank you Arlette for making me a part of this exciting club.To join the creative team ,write to Arlette(


Rush said…
great..looking forward to seeing some Mediterranean specialties from you now.
Dori said…
Thanks for letting us know about the Walima cooking club... the food looks mouthwatering!
Ann said…
very interesting to learn about this recipe and it looks so mouth watering. Awesome pictures.
Parita said…
Koshary sounds delicious and healthy!
semolina cake too looks lovely!
shri said…
The semolina cake looks heavenly!
Anonymous said…
Wow,thats a great job..Walima ..the name itself is so beautiful..hey both the dishes looks so yummy and distinct...thanks for the opportunity to go through of luck !!
Deepthi Shankar said…
great dishes .. they look fabulous & mouthwatering
CurryLeaf said…
GREAT dishes,Yasmeen.Very new to me.So surprised these are vegetarian/vegan friendly.Never thght Egyptian could be like that.
Esp love the basboussa.The click is very pretty and mouthwatering.
mona said…
Yasmeen, jazakallahu khair for sharing the recipes. I had once had some Arab neighbours and they prepared the best Basbousa! Inshallah I will be trying your version this weekend.
Pooja said…
Wow fabulous dishes! Koshary looks great. Looks simple but must have tasted yummy. The semolina cake looks awesome too!
Chef Jeena said…
Fabulous recipes Yasmeen I really love Arabic food so I would quite happily sit and eat both of these dishes and enjoy every last crumb.

Great pics. :-)
Congratulations dear and those cake pieces are tiltilating to the tounge :)
Anonymous said…
You have a wonderful blog here.Keep up your good work.
Varsha Vipins said…
Great grt dishes Yasmeen..Kudos to you for taking time n pain to cook up n share such rare n scrummy dishes..:)loved the semolina cake with syrup..looks so tempting..:)
n btw..ur superb!!!..I was drooling at themm..:D
Jen said…
The dessert looks so moist and tempting.
Yasmeen, the look os that Basbousa is killing me. I was compelled to bookmark the recipe.
I love the name too. Keep going girl
Raks said…
Looks nice,and love the semolina cake,looks moist and soft!
Loved all the entries..entirely different taste....loved that cake especially
jayasree said…
Lovely dishes. Glad both are veg. I had bookmarked basbousa.. I think I try ur low fat version.
sangeeta said…
hey Yasmeen i am startled at your prolific many events you manage to participate an d such good recipes you make...
i follow Arlette's blog n had seen this cooking club happy that you are doing such diverse things...
Pari Vasisht said…
Wow yasmeen the cake looks amazing.Looking forward to more mediterranean dishes from u.
Ivy said…
Love all the recipes. Both the lentils and the basbousa are similar to some Cypriot recipes, probably having an influence from the Egyptian cuisine.
Yasemin said…
Awe...semolina is just the best! And LOVE the new blog header. Mashallah you are doing a great job habibty, I am inspired by the way you never run out of awesome recipes! Love you!
Anonymous said…
Very interesting - I've never tried anything Egyptian. The Koshary and the cake sound excellent! Delicious specialties!
sabah said…
Yasmeen, both dishes look so delicious, you are really very talented.
Jessica said…
Koshary sounds so simple to make..looks very pretty with the crispy onions.The cake is such a delicious end of the meal.
Kerstin said…
Yum, what unique dishes! THe koshary looks so good!
You know, one of my friends made (and gave me the recipe, too) for this semolina cake, but I never knew it was called basboussa.
I just love the nice soft and crumbly texture of the cake.
Shri said…
Yasmeen!An award is waiting for you to be picked up at my blog:)
Humaira said…
Hi,I have nominated u for the creativ blogger award...pls do visit my blog and accept it.
Purva Desai said…
Koshary looks tempting, I was dying to try the semolina cake, after seeing your moist and delicious cake I guess I should avoid the further delay and try my hands for this lovely cake
Lori said…
Very cool club! Egyptian cooking is definitely a new style for me. I have no doubt I would love the Koshary. It sounds so great!
Cynthia said…
Such an exciting club!
Love the semolina cake. It's very common in North African cuisine. I usually serve it with a cardamom date syrup. To die for.
lubnakarim06 said…
Oh wow....nice to know about Walima cooking club and it's focus on Mediterranean cooking......semolina cake wlooks delectable.....i got completely busy with Shaba-E-Barat could not post comment earlier....
One of my favorite desserts. I made it twice in the past two weeks and I'll make it again for another gathering this weekend. In Turkey, we do not use tahini to grease the pan, however an Arabic friend mentioned to me that this is how it's done in Arabic countries. It's a such a delicious dessert.
Arlette said…
Marhaba Yasmeen

Awesome food and amazing photos...
everything looks mouthwatering... forgive me my dear, I did comment on the Walima blog but didn't got the chance to visit your blog here. I am a vendor at two farmer's markets and thur,fri,sat are my crasiest days .
Thank you so much for participating in the challenge. I am honored to have a wonderful friend and talented cook, with a great blog full of healthy information which we all need.

Since we don't have yet a member from Iraq, I picked the August Challenge Recipes and post them in the Walima Cooking CLub. I will copy them to the Walima Public Club so who ever is interested can follow and cook with us...
what do you think ?

By the way did you change the name of the blog... this is why I was unable to open your blog with the right page....
Muneeba said…
Fabulous post. I fell in love with Koshary when I saw it on the Egypt episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations series. I'd love to try it out ... but am not sure what those brown lentils are? Is there another name for them that I would recognize?
Yasmeen said…
the brown lentils is the whole masoor dal with skin on ,you can use any whole lentil instead.
Sasha said…
Very tasty semolina cake with coconut and the fragrant orange blossom water.
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