Recipe courtesy of Nisreen, Kitchen Maestro
Nisreen is the food blogger behind Kitchen Maestro. Her page features traditional Middle Eastern & Palestinian dishes with tutorial videos and recipes. She plates and photographs her food beautifully, and incorporates a lovely array of floral and ingredients decor with the food, while also sharing a behind the scenes look at her food photography and styling techniques!
Nisreen’s Your Lebanon Feature Page
Today I will share the recipe of a Fenugreek cake called Helbeh. Fenugreek seeds, Helbeh (حلبة) in Arabic is an aromatic bittersweet spice, has quite a strong flavor. This little seed contains proteins, fiber and Vitamin C, niacin, potassium, iron and alkaloids. Among some of their benefits are: it increases milk production among nursing mothers, helps reduce symptoms of PMS, reduce cholesterol, increases the libido, reduces heartburn, you can loose weight by reducing the appetite, and cure skin inflammations.
In Palestine and Jordan,any new mother can expect to receive a tray of these helba cake! Indeed, all members of the family can enjoy this dessert. 🙂
This cake is easy to make, though there are a few steps, Helba seeds must first be boiled in water, Semolina and flour is then mixed together, and patted into a tray. The cake is allowed to rise while a simple sugar syrup is made.
After the cake is baked, the cooled syrup is poured over the hot cake and allowed to soak in completely.
Remember to better always make helbeh at least a day before you want to serve it, as the flavors need time to come together and give the best result.
servings, or more
- 3 cups fine semolina
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup Fenugreek seeds
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon anise powder
- almonds blanched and peeled, for garnish
- For syrup, place sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small pot over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- In a small pot, put 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 cup fenugreek seeds. Bring to a boil, and allow to boil until the water is reduced to around 1 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Drain the seeds, reserving the cooking water.
- Coat a 12 inch or 30cm baking tray with 1 tsp. of Tahini paste (Sesame paste) ,or you can use butter instead. Set aside.
- Combine the flour and semolina in a mixing bowl. Add oil. Using your fingers, rub the oil into the semolina and flour until completely incorporated.
- Add in fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, anise powder, baking powder, instant dry yeast, and salt. Then gradually add fenugreek water that you have reduced and cooled. Knead to combine. Don't over mix. If you don't have enough liquid make it up with water. Knead the dough until is completely smooth But don't over mix.
- Pat dough into the baking tray in an even layer. Cut diagonal shape.
- Place one almond in the center of each diamond. Cover the cake tin with a towel and set aside in a warm place for about 1 hour to rise.
- At the end of the resting time, preheat oven to 200C (400F) degrees. Bake for about 25 minutes. Turn on broiler, and broil for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.
- Once the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and immediately drizzle the syrup all over it.
- Let the cake cool completely before covering it well with foil. Serve hot or cold.