Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Basbousa and Karkadé #EattheWorld

It's hard to believe that January flew by so quickly. Here we are in February for the second 2021 installment of our #EattheWorld project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz. Here's her challenge. This month, we are sharing Sudanese recipes. Here's the #EattheWorld line-up for Sudan...

When I saw the destination, I started researching and immediately tried a recipe for Asida, a cooked wheat gruel that is particularly popular in Sudan, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria, Libya, Somalia, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Indonesia. Despite the date sauce below, melted butter and honey on top, the boys declared the Asida "not that good." Fine

Then I made Ful Sudani and Shai (Sudanese Peanut Macaroons and Cinnamon Tea) which was much better received. While we were eating those, D reminded me that one of his good friends is from Sudan and offered to email her for suggestions and recipes. Now why didn't I think of that?!?

She emailed back a list almost immediately of some of her favorites: Gourrassa (Flat Bread); Ful (Fava Bean Stew); Kirsa (Flat Bread); Karkade (Hibiscus Drink);  Bamia (Okra Stew); Tamia (Sudanese Falafel); and Basbousa (Cake). I also remembered that when her family brought lunch for the robotics team...way back when we were allowed to gather in real life...they brought Kofta.

So, I tried a Sudanese kofta recipe, but decided not to share it for this event because I've shared Lamb Kofta and Pork Kofta before and the process is not that different. I did serve the kofta with asida and it was preferred as a savory sidedish. Although, initally, Jake thought they were strange mashed potatoes.

If we weren't under a shelter-in-place order, I would have invited D's friend over to cook with me. She's been over a few times to cook and dine; they made Moqueca for an AP World History project and they made NalysnykyUkranian crêpes, another time. It would have been nice to learn from her! Alas, that was not to be. So, I picked two of her listed recipes: Basbousa and Karkade.


Basbousa is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet that is made with semolina flour and, then, sweetened with orange blossom water or rose water syrup. Note that rose water is a very polarizing ingredient, at least in this household. So, when I use it, I use it sparingly.

Ingredients makes two 9" cakes

  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon rose water 

  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon rose water (optional) 

  • pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • dried, unsweetened coconut, chopped


Butter two cake pans and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, combine all of the cake ingredients into a thick batter and spoon into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the center is set. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning the cake out onto the rack and cooling completely.

While the cake cools, make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil and swirl the pan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the lemon juice and rose water, if using, and allow the syrup to cool slightly

Slowly pour the syrup over the cooled cake in small batches so that the syrup absorbs completely before you pour the next round.


Garnish the top of the cake with the chopped pistachios and coconut. Serve immediately.


This is a hibiscus tisane made from boiling the petals of the flower. It is served both hot and cold though we tried it cold and all really enjoyed it.

Ingredients makes 8 cups

  • 3 cups dried organic hibiscus flowers
  • 8 cups water
  • 3/4  cup organic dark brown sugar, lightly packed
Variations (use one or more)
  • 1 sprig fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and halved


Pick through the dried hibiscus blossoms and make sure there isn't any debris in them - just like you do with dried beans before cooking. Set aside.

In a saucepan bring 8 cups of water to a boil. As soon as it boils, stir in the hibiscus blossoms and remove from the heat. Let steep for 15 minutes.

Strain the flowers out and return the liquid to the pot. Bring the tisane to a boil again and add in the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in any of the optional variations; we  tried the pure vanilla extract.

Let cool completely. Serve chilled.

That's a wrap for our #EattheWorld virtual trip to Sudan. I can't wait to see where Evelyne has us heading next. Stay tuned....


  1. Delicious combo of basbousa and karkade.

  2. Hibiscus flowers always makes me think of Senegal - my mom drank a lot of bissap which is probably about the same thing. Such a beautiful color!!

    1. Yes! I think there are many different versions out there. It is so pretty.

  3. What a fun virtual adventure you had to Sudan this month. Thanks for taking us with you.

  4. They both look delicious! My daughter loves the hibiscus tea. We all would love to finish the cake in a jiffy! Delicious!

  5. The cake looks delicious - I can imagine how moist it is with the syrup soaking it, and how flavourful. And with the karkade it must be so refreshing.

  6. You've been busy this month! I would enjoy any of these.