Samali - A Delicious Traditional Greek Dessert

Samali - A Delicious Traditional Greek Dessert

Photo and text by Panos Diotis and Mirella Kaloglou

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Samali is a  traditional Greek cake made of semolina and mastic and is wonderfully drenched with lemon syrup. It's easy to make, it's delicious, full of aroma, and it's the perfect dessert for any occasion. You must definitely try it!

Little Cooking Tips Samali - A delicious traditional Greek dessert


For the samali (semolina cake)
- 300gr/10.5oz semolina, coarse
- 400gr/14oz Greek yogurt, full fat
- 1 cup sugar (preferably brown)
- 1.5 teaspoon (5gr/0.17oz) of Chios mastic, crushed into powder
- 180ml (3/4 cup) water
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter (for the baking pan)

For the syrup
- 400ml (1 and 2/3 cups) water
- 500gr/17.6oz sugar (preferably brown)
- 1 teaspoons of lemon zest
- 2 tablepoons of fresh lemon juice


Put all of the ingredients for the samali cake in a large bowl and whisk until combined. The result will be a bit watery.
Spread the melted butter in a medium-sized (20x24 cm/7.8x9.5 inches) baking pan and pour the samali mix. Put it in the oven and bake for 1 hour at 160 degrees Celsius (320 Fahrenheit) in the middle rack.

Before removing the cake (about 50 minutes into baking), start preparing the syrup:
Put the syrup ingredients in a small pot and put it on high heat while constantly stirring. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, and let the syrup simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. The result will be transparent if you use white sugar, or caramel color if you use brown.

Remove the cake from the oven, slice into pieces and while still in the pan slowly start to pour the syrup (using a ladle). It's important to do that while the cake is still hot from the oven, so the syrup can be absorbed by the cake. Use all the quantity of the syrup. When you have added all the syrup, if it looks like like it's more than it's needed, and some quantity remains on the surface, don't worry! The cake slowly will absorb ALL of the syrup in 20-30 minutes. Let it aside to cool before serving. Enjoy!



1. Any remaining cake after serving, should be put it in the fridge. The samali cake is best served cool.
2. For those of you who want to try something different, serve the samali cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Tthe combination is devine!!! Alternatively you can serve with some whipped cream.
3. As mentioned in the recipe, the process of adding the syrup must take place while both the cake and the syrup are still hot!


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