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“Even if honey be your cup,
Restrain your taste; don’t lick it all up.”
“ان كان حبيبك عسل, ما تلحسوش كله”

(An old and traditional Arabic saying)


It’s been a long time since the last post I had, but I must admit that I can’t go away for ever, my love for cooking and sharing the love exceeds any limits. Today I’m back with one of my family’s favorite winter sweets, Helbeh. The recipe had been on my Facebook page and I’m supposed to post it for a long time ago, but since it’s winter sweets, It will be perfect in these chilly days.

It’s a traditional Palestinian sweets, similar to many other Levant’ sweet cakes, a sweet spicy cake soaked in sugar syrup. Helba or Helbeh named in arabic for the seeds, Fenugreek, which is the star that gives the distinctive nutty taste and enticing smell that makes your kitchen smells welcoming warm and aromatic. This sweet cake is very healthy since using olive oil to make the dough which is very good for health and cholesterol. Besides Fenugreek, this cake contain Nigella seeds, sesame seeds, it also have fennel seeds, and anise seeds (both grounded).

Fenugreek, an aromatic bittersweet spice, has strong flavor. It’s a small seed, that is actually a legume that grows in India and in some places of the mediterranean. Mostly dry roasted and used in curry, and pickles. This little seed has proteins, fibre and Vitamin C, niacin, potassium, iron and alkaloids. It’s very nutritious and healthy; it increases milk production among nursing mothers, helps reduce symptoms of PMS, reduce cholesterol, increases the libido, reduces heartburn, you can lose weight by reducing the appetite, and cure skin inflammations.

Nigella seed looks like black sesame seed and has a faint cumin flavor. Nigella seeds are very healthy especially known for skin and hair. It also have a bitter taste, so less than 1 tablespoon is perfect for this dough recipe.

I took the recipe from my mother in law, she’s very talented and her sweets always yummy. Her way is to toast the dried seeds a little, but not to burn it, this will give the cake very tasty aroma then grind it, in this recipe I used all-purpose flour. Some recipes use semolina flour instead of all-purpose flour, others use both together. When using semolina flour alone, you can soak the Fenugreek in water then boil it and use it as whole in the dough without grinding it, some of the soaking water is used to make the dough too.

Always make the cake at least a day before you want to serve it, as the flavors need time to come together.


Fenugreek Olive Oil Cake – Helbeh

1 cup semolina or farina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black seeds
3 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoon sugar
dash of salt
3\4 cup olive oil
about 1 1\2 cup milk
1 tablespoon oil or tahini for the tray.

In a pan, toast the fenugreek seeds a little for 2-3 minutes on low heat, shake and stir frequently and try not to burn them. In a coffee blender, grind 1 tablespoon of anise seeds with the caraway and fennel seeds and the toasted fenugreek.
Add the ground spices and the yeast, sugar, and salt to flour and farina, mix together. Add the olive oil and mix it with dry ingredients. With your finger tips, rub the flour with the oil until it soaked.

helba 1

Warm the milk, add it to the dough and knead together, until you have a soft and smooth dough, let rest for 15 minutes.
Grease 12×17 inch sheet tray with oil or tahini, spread the dough evenly and smooth its surface. let rest in a warm place covered for 1 hour.

helbeh 2
Heat the oven at 400 f, bake for 15-20 minutes, bring it to the upper rack and let golden brown a little.
Once you get it out from the oven, soak it with the cold sugar syrup, let stand until cool.

helbeh 3

Enjoy it, and remember to left some for the next day, since it will become more delicious.

For the sugar syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 1\2 cups water
1\2 teaspoon lemon juice

In sauce pan, add sugar to water, bring to boil, let boil on low heat for 15 min, add the lemon juice at the end.
Let to cool.



2 كوب طحين
1كوب سميد
3 ملعقه كبيره حب حلبه
2 ملعقه كبيره ينسون حب
2 ملعقه كبيره سمسم
1ملعقه كبيره قزحه
1 ملعقه كبيره كراويه حب
1 ملعقه كبيره شومر حب
1ملعقه صغيره خميره
حليب سائل حوالي  1 1\2 كوب
3/4 كوب زيت زيتون
رشة ملح
3 ملعقه كبيره سكر


تحمص الحلبه بمقلاه على نار خفيفه قليلا مع الانتباه والتحريك لحتى لا تخترق ولمده دقائق فقط ثم تطحن بمكينة الفهوه مع الكراويه اوالشومر وملعقه من اليانسون الحب.
نضع جميع المقادير الناشفه ونخلط. ثم نضيف الزيت ونخلط وباطراف الاصابع نفرك المواد مع بعضها لحتى تتشرب الزيت.ثم نعجنها قليلا بالحليب مع اضافة الحليب بين الحين والاخر بكميات قليله حتى تتكون عجينه طريه.
نتركها ربع ساعه ترتاح ثم نفردها في الصينيه بعد دهنها بالطحينيه او الزيت, نقطعها حسب الرغبه الى مربعات. ونتركها ساعه تخمر.
نخبزها على 400 د حتى يحمر وجهها. نكون محضرين القطر ويكون بارد ونسقيها.
هذه الكميه يلزمها 2 كوب سكر مع 1 1\2 كوب ماء.
نضعها على النار حتى تغلي نخفف الحراره ونتركها ل 10 دقائق اخرى.
نضع بضع قطرات من عصير الليمون في اخر دقيقه.
نتركها تبرد تماما