Toasted semolina pudding with cheese (Mamounieh)

Asma, a Kurdish lady we love and admire, made this one fine morning  in Beirut. After one bite, I was enraptured.

Mamounieh is a breakfast dish and a specialty  from Aleppo.

It is semolina, toasted in clarified butter on the stove till its nutty flavor is released, then cooked for mere minutes in sweet water till creamy and porridge-like.  Traditionally garnished with cinnamon and caramelized pine nuts.

Asma made it by adding string cheese to it, which is traditional as well.

Visiting Alépine‘s blog, I saw that in Aleppo it is served with pita bread.  I like mine just plain, with cheese and cream on the side. The cream I use is found in all Middle-Eastern groceries; it comes from Denmark and is called Puck. A good substitute would be mascarpone or even sour cream.

Time to prepare: 15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

  • 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (50 g.), preferably clarified
  • 1/2 cup+1 teaspoon of fine semolina (100 g.)
  • 16 ounces of water (1 pint or 500ml.)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (110 g.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of mahlab (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water or rose water
  • Optional garnishes:
  • 1/4 cup of dried apricots (30 g.)
  • 1/4 cup of pistachios or pine nuts (30 g.)
  • 1 cup of white (melting) cheese (mozzarella or other)
  • A few dollops of Puck or Quark cheese (optional) or mascarpone or sour cream


  1. Get two saucepans ready. One will be used to make the syrup and the other (which should be bigger) to cook the pudding. Pour the sugar and water in one saucepan and bring to a simmer, while stirring. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat.
  2. Melt the butter in the other pot and when it is melted add the semolina. Stir the semolina with a wooden spoon until it gets toasted, or a light caramel color. (This will take a few minutes). Heat the syrup till the simmering point; pour the syrup gradually over the semolina while  stirring. Keep stirring the semolina until it thickens, which should take no more than 3 minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add the cheese and keep stirring to melt the cheese. Remove from the heat and pour into a serving platter or several small ramequins. Garnish with nuts and dried fruits if desired  and serve warm.

NOTE: The dried apricots can be plumped up during the day; simply pour some very hot water on the apricots in a small bowl and let them absorb the water and soften for a few hours; drain and cut them up for garnish.

The best cheese is either a string cheese or a mozzarella or any cheese that will melt nicely in contact with the heat and that is not too salty. I soak the string cheese in water a day ahead, changing the water every few hours, until the cheese loses all its salt. You can do the same with the mozzarella if it is too salty. (Or keep it salty if you prefer).

In this pudding, the cheese is optional and can be omitted.

Nada Saleh in her Splendors of the Levant, adds mahlab to her mamounieh; since I love mahlab, I did too.

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  1. Posted March 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Again Joumana, you find an amazingly interesting recipe that cries out – make me! eat me! enjoy life! What a celebration of textures and flavors.

  2. Posted March 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    i love this!! please send me some!!!

  3. Posted March 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    That is lovely! A pudding which must have an interesting flavor.



  4. Posted March 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I was put off Semolina at boarding school, they used to make a horrible job of cooking it!! Seeing this I am now going to try it again. Thanks Diane

  5. Posted March 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    The sound of the toasted semolina in this sounds delightful! What a wonderful breakfast this would make.

  6. Posted March 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    This is truly exceptional. My husband is a huge semolina pudding fan and I will have to make it for him!

  7. Posted March 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Wat an interesting pudding,simply delicious..

  8. Posted March 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    another winner…this looks and sounds so good and with the string cheese it really appeals to me even more….

  9. Posted March 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I love the flavour of toasted semolina, but I struggle to picture how this dish would taste, with the cheese or the nuts or the quark… I guess I’ll have to try it for myself to solve the riddle.

  10. Posted March 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I have never used semolina for anything but pasta. You continually expand my horizons, Joumana! All of these great flavors… it reminds me of a childhood favorite cream of wheat that I used to love. All those grownup flavors would take it to a higher plane. Lovely apricot color too!

  11. Posted March 13, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    We make this dessert as well and call it Semolina Halva (a couple of other Halvas in Greek desserts). It’s usually made with oilive oil but I had a version made with butter from a lady from Constantinople and it was decadent, delicious!

    I have a feeling as to how good yours tasted. ;)

  12. Posted March 13, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    We Greeks make this (=halva) too, but with olive oil instead of butter, and without any cheese. In fact, I made a batch on Monday! Yours looks great!

  13. Posted March 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Ok so why did I not come across this when I was in Aleppo? I’m a little annoyed now. I could easily have this for breakfast!

  14. Posted March 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I would love to try this kind of dessert! I think mascarpone would be super with it. Love the pistachios and apricots too. Mmmmm mmmmm

  15. Posted March 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I love semolina as we call ravaa and this has our name all over it. Soon…one weekend. Once gain Joumana what a fascinating recipe from your repertoire :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  16. Posted March 13, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    A very unique specialty, I do love the melting cheese here! Would love to try this!

  17. Posted March 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful! So comforting and soothing. Love the apricot and mahlab tips. Very nice of you to mention the cheese is optional. :-)

  18. Posted March 14, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Hi Joumana, What a great combination of flavors! This semolina pudding looks absolutely delicious. I will definitely have to give this a try :)

    Have a good day,


  19. Posted March 14, 2011 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Oh yum – we have Indian halwa called suji ka halwa in which the semolina in slowly roasted in ghee as well. This looks SO good specially as it has cheese. Everything cheese gets my attention :-)

  20. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    tres bonne recette, j’aime beaucoup, merci

  21. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Bonjour Joumana, encore une recette découverte étrange et venue d’ ailleurs…à essayer, bisous et bon lundi

  22. Posted March 14, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Though I’ve only tasted Indian versions, I adore the texture of semolina pudding! Love the nuts and the way you decorated the top too.

  23. Posted March 14, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Love all those ingredients you have used in pudding..what a great combination of flavors going in there..yummie..

  24. Posted March 14, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    This is exactly like the ‘Suji Halwa’ (a pakistani dessert) I make, minus the blossom water and mahlab! Never knew there was anything similar in middle-eastern cuisine!

  25. Posted March 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely blog. It’s always great to stumble upon blogs that have recipes for cuisines from all over the world. Thank you!

    I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe and your Tabouleh as well! :)

  26. Posted March 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    What an interested dish. So this is like a pudding? I love how you always give add some rose water to your dishes.

    It looks so creamy!

  27. Posted March 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m had this dessert before. I love the flavors and the added pine nuts. It’s very similar to Indian halwa. Plus, I can never say “no” to the cream I find at the Middle Eastern market. So good :-]

  28. Posted March 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    My mom made a similar pudding, but didn’t toast the semolina. I can’t wait to try your version.

  29. Posted March 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I have never taste it, but from what I see it looks like it tastes great! It looks wonderful in the tart plate.

  30. Posted March 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Glad I make goat cheese; this looks great.

  31. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    J’aime ça, encore une fois ! ;o)

  32. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Très jolie présentation ! Et c’est la dernière photo que je préfère, avec le fromage fondu hmmm.
    Ma mère met aussi de l’eau de fleur d’oranger, mais j’ai oublié de le préciser dans mon billet…

  33. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    This looks amazing.Cheese in a semolina pudding is new to me but I am sure it would be heavenly.Got to try your version soon.

  34. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Ces crèmes de semoules sont toujours délicieuses..
    Chez moi, c’est semoule grillée, beurre, miel et amandes.
    Rajouter du fromage et autres fruits secs me plait beaucoup.
    Bonne semaine et à très bientôt.

  35. Posted March 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    This is so similar to the semolina halwa I make. Alsways am amazed with the similarity in our cuisine. I do add some almond flour in mine, but it is not the traditional to do so in India. I love the nuts and dried fruits, but never could imagine using cheese on it! wow!

  36. Posted March 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I love this in all ways – with salty cheese – without. Pure enchantment. Love the added touches. Caramelized pine nuts? Oh my – have never done that. (yet.)

  37. Posted March 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, what an interesting pudding with apricot, pistachio and mozzarella cheese. Would love to try it. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead :-)

  38. Posted March 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    yumm, looks delicious and thanks for all the information :), have seen that cream in a middle eastern restaurent here, i thought it was cheese!!!. will definitely give a try

  39. Posted March 15, 2011 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    my hubby makes me a simlple semolina pudding. he calls it “simit” It’s not as fancy as yours. I need to have him make this for me since he’s the semolina master in our house – :) Thanks for another gorgeous recipe.

  40. Posted March 15, 2011 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    Wow, this gives another dimension to semolina halvas. I have never made any with cheese and have bookmarked it.

  41. Posted March 15, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    joumana – lots of blogs doing semolina halva… i made basbousa like i said earlier will post soon. i like the way you use water to cook and flavour with rose water. in india we cook the same thing in milk and flavour with cardamom and use nuts like cashew, almonds and raisins. i make a version with thick milk and semolina and kept on low flame for a really long time till the entire milk is absorbed and the whole mixture is pretty thick, then take bits and roll them into balls – my daughter loves this for b’fast and has it once a week, every week.

    never had semolina pudding with cheese/puck… should give it a try… since it comes recommended by you :)

  42. Posted March 15, 2011 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Yum! This sounds wonderful and like it would be perfect for breakfast. Or maybe a late night snack? Thanks for sharing.

  43. Posted March 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I am always very interested in this middle eastern style puddings. I’d so like to try this one. Sounds like some amazing flavours.
    *kisses* HH
    p.s. Hope you’ve entered my contest daaaaahling, there is a shiny Amazon gift card to be won with your name on it :D

  44. Posted March 16, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a rich dessert to me! Another great recipe, Joumana!

  45. Posted March 16, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Joumana, this looks and sounds fantastic…This could easily become a favorite breakfast for me, and love the idea of the soft melted cheese with the tasty flavors. Wonderful recipe!

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