A Well-Traveled Extra-Sweet Pastry turned
Low-Fat and Cholesterol-Free!
The Nammoura Semolina Pastry
It’s spongy, it’s sweet, and it has traveled extensively throughout the region, taking different versions on its way. Some extra-sweet, some with extra coconuts, some extra crunchy, and some extra soft, yet it is always that indulging sweet semolina and golden bright look that compel us to it.
Carrying the cajoling name of Nammoura in Lebanon, evoking a little female tiger for reasons unknown to me, it is the Shevani of the Armenians, the Harissa of the Syrians, the Ravani of the Turks, and the Basboussa of the Egyptians, and the Jordanians. It also exists in some cuisines of the Balkan.
Surely, this pastry must have been so widely loved to have established itself in so many different cuisines. It is speculated that the Nammoura recipe went around the region and beyond through the Ottoman conquest that lasted hundreds of years in most of these countries, including ours.
The origin though remains vague; lost in the centuries of time and trade.
One thing for sure, though, the Nammoura is no stranger to the ethnic category of our Lebanese pastries; be it in the making as in the ingredients and the style.
THE HEALTHY RECIPE
I love pastry without any guilt, yet, growing up in Lebanon, I wouldn’t eat the Nammoura. It was too sweet even to my well-confirmed sweet-tooth. That changed when I came about this recipe from a renown Lebanese nutritionist and chef, Monique Bassila Zaarour, who created a healthy version with 0 Cholesterol and 1 g fat (per portion), and less sweet.
A Nammoura with no cholesterol and barely 1 g fat is kind of a miracle per se, in my opinion. Yet, she did it, and it is even more delicious than the original extra-sweet one.
The Healthy Low-Fat Nammoura Pastry Recipe
- 1 cup Semolina
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 cup Plain Yogurt Low-fat
- 4 tbsps Orange-Blossom Water
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 2 tbsps Almonds halves, poached
- 1 dash Salt
For the Syrup
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 tsps Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 tbsps Orange-Blossom Water
- Baking Pan 20 cm x 30 cm
- Electrical hand mixer
Preheat your oven at 180°C (356°F).
In a bowl, mix the semolina with the sugar, the baking soda, and the salt.
Pour in the yogurt and the Orange-Blossom Water, and mix with an electrical hand mixer.
Gently sweep the pan with oil, and slowly pour the mixture. Use a spoon to spread it all well.
Garnish the surface with the Almonds, with a light pressure down, leaving spaces between them.
Place the pan in the oven and leave it to bake for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Syrup.
Place the sugar and water in a pan over medium heat, and stir continuously until it starts boiling.
Stir in gradually the lemon juice and Blossom Water, and set aside to cool down.
Finalizing the Nammoura
Remove the pan from the oven, and pour on the syrup at once all over the surface while it's hot in order for the syrup to be all well absorbed.
Set aside and allow it to cool at room temperature.
When well cooled, cut it into 24 equal pieces, and arrange them nicely in a serving plate.
You may cover and store as well.