Helba (Semolina + Fenugreek Cake)
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
"This sweet is a yeasted cake with a very special flavor, thanks to the fenugreek seeds. We like to serve small squares of the cake with a strong black coffee at the end of a big meal."
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Palestinian
Yield: 6 servings
For the Cake:
  • ½ kg fine semolina
  • 40g fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 50g unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ teaspoon dry yeast
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
For the Syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
To Serve:
  • Nigella or sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Boil the fenugreek seeds in water for 5 minutes. Let cool and strain, reserving the liquid.
  2. Mix the semolina, coconut flakes, sugar, yeast, and boiled fenugreek seeds together. Add the olive oil and mix well.
  3. Add some of the fenugreek cooking liquid and mix well with your hands. Continue to add liquid, a little bit at a time, until the dough is smooth but still very thick (you may not use all of the liquid).
  4. Let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
  5. Pre-heat the oven at medium heat.
  6. Use a little vegetable oil to grease a baking tray (big enough to fit the dough in a quite thin layer) and spread the dough evenly with your hands. Using a small knife score the dough to form diamonds.
  7. Bake until the cake is golden on top. While the cake bakes make the syrup.
For the Syrup:
  1. Mix the sugar with the water and boil for 5 minutes, until the sugar is fully dissolved. Cool.
To Serve:
  1. When the cake is done, pour the cold syrup over the hot cake. Sprinkle with nigella or sesame seeds, if using, and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Parve, Vegan, Vegetarian

The recipe can easily be doubled.
Recipe by Katherine Martinelli at http://www.katherinemartinelli.com/blog/2013/helba-semolina-fenugreek-cake-and-a-bethlehem-cooking-class/