Basbousa bil Ishta

This is a variation of basbousa, a sugar-syrup sweetened semolina cake, that has a layer of ishta (clotted cream) in the middle. Ishta is Hebronese slang for “qishta” and the cream is a major ingredient in many Palestinian desserts. I first tried this version of basbousa bil ishta when I was in Amman, Jordan. My husband’s uncle’s wife prepared it and she is an excellent cook. Serve basbousa bil ishta with tea or Arabic coffee.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Nestle table cream
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Ishta ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nestle table cream


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Pour half the batter into a medium size baking dish and bake until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the ishta. In a saucepan over medium-highly heat, combine the ingredients and stir until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and pour the ishta evenly over the top.
  • Wait a few minutes, then add 1/4 cup water to the rest of the basbousa batter and pour it over the ishta layer.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Then broil it on high for 2-5 minutes until it turns a reddish/brown.
  • Pour cooled atar over the top of the hot cake, let it cool, then refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

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