Almost Turkish Recipes

Damascus Dessert (Şam Tatlısı)

This is a common dessert in Turkey, but I don't know why it is called "Damascus" dessert. My one guess is that sometimes instead of shredded coconut, it's decorated with crushed pistachios. And in Turkish pistachio is called either "Damascus nut" or "Antep nut" (a southeastern city in Turkey that borders Syria). The recipe is from my mom and is one of her favorites because it requires neither eggs nor oil. Since it's not very heavy you can eat more!

for the syrup
3 1/2 cup water
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

for the cake
1 cup semolina
1 cup bleached flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

-Mix sugar, water, and lemon juice in a pot and boil for 1-15 minutes. Turn it off and let it cool down.
-In a bowl mix all the ingredients for the cake. Pour them in a greased oven dish (We used a 13 1/2 X 10 1/2 one, but you can definitely use a smaller dish for a thicker cake).
-Bake it at 350-370F for 20-25 minutes until it gets brownish.
-Cut the cake in rectangles, squares, or diamonds.
-Pour the syrup that has cooled down on the hot cake. Let it soak the syrup in the cooling oven.
-You can sprinkle shredded coconut or pistachio, or put an almond on each piece.
-Serve it cold.


  1. That's so pretty. And I think the pistachios would be really nice too!

  2. My friend Fatma made this cake a lot in Edinburgh, but she called it a syrup cake:)

  3. Anonymous12:44 PM

    We make this in Egypt and call it basbousa

    1. Anonymous3:40 PM

      I agree it is a common desert from North África to the Levante area in the Middle East .
      The Otoman Empire extended through this countries and the Turkish cooking was spread and adopted.

  4. Thanks everyone!
    Anonymous: though it's widely made in Turkey, I knew it wasn't originally Turkish. But to be honest, I thought it was Syrian rather than Egyptian. Maybe we should call it Cairo dessert :)

  5. Anonymous9:35 PM

    This looks very similar to the lebanese basboosa. Looks great.

  6. Anonymous11:35 AM

    It looks really yummy!!! It's not one of easy desserts, but I'll try to cook it!

  7. Anonymous1:46 PM

    in lebanon its not called basboosa it called Namoura

  8. Nancy1:19 AM

    i can imagine it is called syrian dessert coz it may originate from syria but has been modified. it is a little different to basboosa (egypt) the turkish way is a little more like a cake is fluffy, whereas the basboosa is more dense and very sticky and is cut into diamond shapes with an almond placed in the centre of each piece.

  9. i just made this one.. i havent eaten it before so wasn't sure what to expect.. firstly i found I had far too much syrup for the cake.. and i thought it would be a bit different

  10. Anonymous3:34 AM

    Lovely, can eat all

  11. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Looks delicious. I make mine a little on the denser side and brush the bottom of my pan with a little tahini and cinnamon. I think everyone in the region has their own version of this sweet. In Palestine, it's also called namoura or hareesay. Whatever the name...we all agree it is delicious.