Fenugreek Siniyeh (Semolina Cake)

Rawhiyah Eltayeb

1 hour + overnight

10-in / 26-cm round pan

Fenugreek Siniyeh. Photo by Matan Choufan.

Contrary to popular belief, ‘siniyeh’ is not the name of a particular dish, but rather the Arabic word for a baking dish. Sweet fenugreek siniyeh is a rich semolina cake seasoned with fenugreek, nigella seeds, and citrus blossom water. “We prepare it on Fridays, special holidays or when guests are coming,” says cook Rawhiyah Eltayeb. “My mother and aunts taught me how to make it.”

Be sure to start this recipe a day before you plan to serve it.

Dessert | Palestinian Cooking | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons fenugreek seeds
  • 4-6 tablespoons raw tahini
  • 1.1 lb / 500 grams semolina
  • 1¼ cups olive oil
  • ½ cup roasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons nigella seeds
  • 1 cup / 120 grams flour
  • 2 teaspoons / about 10 grams active dry yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons / 5 grams baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • For the syrup:
  • 2½ cups / 500 grams sugar
  • 2 cups / 450 ml water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ tablespoon citrus blossom water
  • To serve:
  • ⅔ cup chopped pistachios or almonds

Preparation

  1. A day before baking: To remove their bitterness, soak the fenugreek seeds in 1 cup of water for 2 hours. Drain, rinse and soak in 1 cup of water for 2 more hours. Drain, rinse, and soak in 1 cup of water overnight
  2. The following day: Transfer the fenugreek seeds with the soaking liquid to a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cool. Drain the seeds and reserve the liquids.
  3. Prepare the sugar syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat. Add the lemon juice and citrus blossom water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F / 220°C. Brush the baking pan (siniyeh) with raw tahini (this is in place of greasing it with butter or oil).
  5. Mix the semolina and olive oil in a bowl until the semolina has absorbed all of the oil. Add the sesame seeds, nigella seeds, flour, yeast, baking powder, yogurt and fenugreek seeds. Gradually add the fenugreek cooking liquid while continuously mixing, just until combined.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking pan and smooth into an even, dense layer. Score diagonal cuts to form diamond shapes and place a pistachio or almond in the center of each diamond. Bake until the bottom of the pastry slightly reddens, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F / 180°C and bake for 20 minutes, until golden.
  7. Remove the siniyeh from the oven, ladle the cooled sugar syrup on top and let it soak for 30 minutes before serving.

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