A man sold the necessary equipment; a small distiller cost 25DT which is roughly 10 pounds sterling.
For centuries aromas have been essential to Middle eastern food; the Caliphs' cooks in the kitchens of 9th century Baghdad, often finished off savoury dishes with a dash of rose water, an appealing mark of sophistication to titillate the senses.
Today, it is difficult to imagine some food without orange blossom essence; it adds a velvety aroma to cakes and confectioneries, carries away the stark bitterness of coffee and raises the banal milk pudding to ethereal heights. In savoury dishes, it highlights the taste of spices and neutralises the pungency of meats. But it should be used sparingly to add fragrance and subtle flavour.
Semolina and syrup cake
This syrupy sweet cake is part and parcel of Baklawa assortments. Delicious with Turkish coffee its sweetness is off set with the bitter taste of coffee.
400 g medium semolina
150 g caster sugar
125 g ground almonds
75 g shredded coconut
1 large tablespoon plain yogurt
125g butter, melted
200 ml milk
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon rosewater
For the syrup:
335 g caster sugar
200 ml water
Juice of one lemon
A dash each of rosewater and orange blossom water
Makes approximately 24 squares
- Melt the butter on low heat.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
- Mix the liquefied butter with the cold milk. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add milk, butter, orange flower water and rosewater. Mix well. Leave to rest for at least one hour, stirring the mixture from time to time. During this time the ingredients will combine well and the paste will thicken.
- While the paste is resting, make the syrup.
- Mix sugar and water and stir well to melt the sugar. Bring to a boil. Once it begins to bubble, add the juice of one lemon.
- Keep boiling for approximately 10 minutes or until the sugar thickens.
- Finally add a dash each of rosewater and orange blossom water. Leave to cool.
- Butter a rectangular baking dish and brush it with tahini.
- Add one tablespoon of plain yogurt to the semolina paste. Mix to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the buttered dish, and smooth the surface with the back of spoon.
- With a sharp knife draw lines on the paste to form small lozenges or squares.
- Place one whole almond in the centre of each of these squares.
- Bake the semolina cake for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven. The cake is ready when both the surface and the bottom of the cake are brown.
- Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. Pour over the cooled syrup.
- Leave to cool completely before cutting. Do not attempt at cutting it while it is still warm as it will crumble. Even better to wait overnight before cutting.