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Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake

This Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Helen Goh‘s “Sweet” Cookbook. It is such a beautiful union of cardamom, rosewater, almond and pistachio. Serve up this exquisite cake at your next get-together as a wonderful finale to a meal.

Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake cut into slices

*This is an updated version of a post that was first published on May 7th, 2018.

This Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake simply exquisite. Very much like this Sri Lankan Love Cake, it is a coarse cake made with semolina. It, too, is packed full of flavor ~ so much flavor that each forkful simply delights our tastebuds. This cake is a delicious cake and can be enjoyed without any frosting or icing ~ But a big mug of milky tea or coffee is a must!

If you try this cake, I am hoping you will enjoy it as much as we do!

But first, a little history on how I was introduced to this cake…

In the summer of 2017, my daughter and I headed across the pond to London.

While we were there, we got to visit family, awe at some of London’s sights and sounds and check out the local food scene ~ which included a stop at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants.

I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi’s style of cooking and managed to taste just about every one of the savory dishes he had on his menu that day. 

By the way, if you focus on the 6 larger images in the collage below, you will see that all the savory and sweet dishes of the day are displayed openly so it’s easy to pick and choose how much or how little one would like.

Collage of sights in London

My daughter and I were so stuffed after our lunch. But, neither of us wanted to leave without trying any of the sweets so we filled up a togo box with a variety of Ottolenghi’s cakes, cookies and meringues.

We headed to Hyde park with our loot and managed to find a secluded spot overlooking the lake (4th row, left most picture in the collage above) and dug into our loot.

Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake

Y’all, when I got to the slice of pistachio rosewater semolina cake, my tastebuds were swooning!

This was one heck of a tasty cake! And, it had NO frosting!

Frosting is usually my jam – but this didn’t need any. None.

Each forkful was so luxurious, so flavor packed with hints of rosewater, pistachio, almond and lemon!

We regretted getting only one slice and having to share it! We went back to that Ottolenghi restaurant before we left London, but, they had sold out of their pistachio rosewater cake.

When my daughter and I got back home to Georgia, we found a recipe for that Pistachio Rosewater Semolina Cake and vowed to give it a try as soon as she had college sorted out and I had sold the house and moved to a condo (which feels like it was eons ago).

Picking Up A Slice of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake

Well, come New Years Eve night, we were hovering over that recipe in our new kitchen. That first time we tried this recipe out, (by the way, this recipe can be found in Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Helen Goh’s new cookbook: “Sweet”) I subbed in oat flour for semolina. I am thinking that that substitution lead to a cake that was just too sweet for me.

But, the second time I tried my hand at replicating Ottolenghi’s Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake, I followed the directions and ingredients almost exactly.

This time, I reduced the amount of sugar and also used cardamom powder instead of cardamom pods as the powder can be easily found among the spices at just about every local grocery store.

And, the resulting cake had our tastebuds swooning!

How to make this Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake:

Steps To Making Pistachio Rose Cake

1. Gather all your ingredients together.
The first time I made this, I found the directions and ingredient list a bit intimidating – but, having all the ingredients prepped, measured and ready to go, helped save time and my sanity.

2. Grind up the pistachios (along with the cardamom powder) to a flour like consistency.

3. Mix the Dry ingredients together.
Spoon the pistachio/cardamom powder into a bowl with the almond meals, semolina flour, baking powder, salt.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together until the electric beater leaves a “trail” through it. Then, add in the eggs one at a time, mixing between each egg. Make sure not not overbeat though.

5. FOLD in the mixed dry ingredients into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
Use a spatula and gently fold in the dry ingredients.

6. Add in lemon zest, rose water and vanilla extract.

7. Scrape the mixture (it won’t be too runny) into a greased and lined baking tray and bake.
In the last 10 minutes of the cake baking, make the rose water syrup.

8. When cake is taken out of the oven and is still warm, spoon the warm rosewater syrup over it.

9. Let Cool, glaze, and enjoy!

Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake with two slices on dessert plates with forks

So, of course, I decided to share this very slightly adapted version of Ottolenghi’s Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake (which has become one of my all time favorite cakes), here.

I cut down on the time required to make this by using store bought dried rose petals instead of making candy rose petals as suggested in the original recipe.

I also did not make the rose cream to go with this and added a very simple lemon rose cardamom glaze instead.

This is a spectacular cake to bake up and enjoy around the holidays, for New Years’ (like my daughter and I do) or even for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It also pairs beautifully with this Cashew Semolina Cake – which is also a cake that is so tasty it does not require any frosting!

A Slice of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake on a plate with a fork

I would love to know if you’ve make this recipe or any other recipe from this blog so please do rate the recipe and let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.
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Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake cut into slices

Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake

4.59 from 129 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Shashi
This Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake is such a beautiful union of cardamom, rosewater, almond and pistachio. Exquisite with a rose syrup drenching, this cake is meant to be lingered over and leisurely savored with a cup of tea or coffee for Mother’s Day or any of your get togethers with family and friends.


For the cake

  • 1 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature cubed, plus a little more for greasing cake pan with
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup 250 mL almond meal
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tbsp 225 mL fine semolina flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp 6 mL baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp 1 mL Himalayan salt
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rosewater not rose syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the rose syrup

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup rosewater
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • pinch of cardamom


For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  • Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan/or round cake pan with butter. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Place 1 cup pistachios and cardamom powder in a high speed blender/food processor and blitz until finely ground. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add ground almonds, semolina, baking powder and salt. Mix together and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, in another bowl. Slowly add eggs 1 at a time and continue to mix until smooth and fully incorporated.
  • Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, being careful not to over mix. Fold in lemon zest, lemon juice, rosewater and vanilla extract. Scrape batter into greased pan and level with spatula.
  • Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean but oily. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  • To serve, drizzle warm rose syrup all over cake. Drizzle cake with glaze. Chop remaining pistachios and sprinkle all over cake along with dried rose petals.
  • Cake can be refrigerated for upto a week. Before serving, simply warm up cake, or let stand at room temperature for a bit.

For the rose syrup:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, add all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Syrup should be slightly thinner than maple syrup and drizzled over cake when still warm.

For the glaze:

  • Add the lemon juice and rose water and cardamom to the powdered sugar and mix well.
  • Drizzle on cake when cooled.


Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 38.4g | Protein: 2.7g | Saturated Fat: 12.4g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 55mg | Fiber: 0.7g | Sugar: 36g
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Recipe Rating

  1. RR says:

    Hi there, can I freeze this cake and for how long? I’m planning to bake it and then frost it on the day of.

    Also, can I substitute semolina flour with the regular flour ?

    • Yes, you can freeze this cake. Wrap it in plastic wrap or plastic bag and freeze – it should be good for up to a month. Thaw by placing it on the counter to get to room temperature.
      I have not made this with regular flour. But, I will be sharing a recipe soon with it.
      Thanks so much!

  2. […] 22. Pistachio Rosewater Semolina Cake […]

  3. […] 6 ingredients and any garnish of your choice, I used rose petals (I had leftover after making this pistachio rose cake) and some shaved […]

  4. […] This easy Sautéed Asparagus Egg Salad would make a delicious side item at that brunch you might have planned for Mother’s Day this weekend – which could be followed up with a slice of this glorious Pistachio Rose Cake. […]

  5. Rita Mansukhani says:

    Hi Shashi this is a lovely recipe. But is there any replacement for egg. I would want eggless recipe of this cake.

  6. Linda Danialy says:

    Do yu use roasted or raw pistachios?

  7. […] I loved the combination of pistachios and cardamom in this pistachio rose cake, I added a smidge of cardamom to this pistachio nut milk. I also added in a splash of vanilla and […]

  8. […] likes to joke that I just want a slice of frosting and not cake. But, this cake, just like this Pistachio Rose Cake, is so incredibly tasty, it doesn’t need any frosting or […]

  9. Sheela Jayaraj says:

    I so want to try out this droolicious cake!

    I am a bit confused of the amount of butter stated-
    “ 1 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp, 325 mL unsalted room temperature butter, cubed”

    Is the amount of butter 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon? Kindly clarify as would love to make it for the upcoming Diwali.


    • Shashi says:

      Hello Sheela, So sorry for the late reply – it’s supposed to be “1 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp butter and a little more to grease the cake pan” so sorry for the confusion.

  10. […] recept från Zeina Mourtada, Tejal Rao, Shashi och ”Sweet” (Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh, […]

  11. […] to travel through Disney, the Pacific North West, California, New York, Italy, Abu Dhabi and London. And through most of our sojourns, we’ve managed to stick to this […]

  12. Charlie says:

    This is Dope.

  13. […] peas and greens stuffed buns to no bake white chocolate almond bites to a whole pistachio rose cake, adorn our coffee […]

  14. Anonymous says:
  15. Anonymous says:
  16. Sarah says:

    This cakes sounds divine – are there other substitute flours for making it gluten free such as corn flour or fine corn meal, increasing the almond flour, chick pea flour – I happen to dislike buckwheat flour – chestnut flour which might skew the flavor. Any ideas much appreciated. Thanks in advance. Best wishes, Sarah

    • Shashi says:

      Hi Sarah – I haven’t tried to make this Gluten Free (and now you have me wanting to do so) but, when I make other cakes and muffins, I’ve used a mix of GF flour ( I’m a fan of King Arthur’s Gluten Free Flour) and almond meal – usually at a 2:1 ratio. I hope this helps – I plan on making a GF version of this in the next couple of months or so…but if you beat me to it, please do let me know how it turns out.

  17. I’ve never made a semolina cake before Shashi, but I can imagine that those flavours of cardamom, rosewater, almond and pitachio and rose syrup mixed together make this an altogether amazing cake. Plus it looks so moist too! You’ve made a very clear set of “how to” photographs and steps. I like that so I’m pinning this for future. I know you had fun in London when I read your previous posts, but I didn’t know you had THIS much fun trying out this cake. 🙂

  18. Neha says:

    Excellent shots and awesome cake with real ingredients packed in! I am in love with the texture of this semolina cake and can’t wait to smell it in my kitchen!

  19. Gaila Perez says:

    Beautiful cake Shashi!

  20. […] pillowy texture of cake and the rich icing are a great base for delicate floral flavors.  This pistachio rose semolina cake takes things to a middle eastern direction again and combines roses with pistachios for a classic […]

  21. Nisha says:


    I love your recipes.

    I apologize for this last minute request. Planning to make this for my husband who is gluten intolerant. What can I use instead of semolina? Please let me know as soon as you can.

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday with your daughter.

    Thanks, Nisha.

    • Shashi says:

      Hi Nisha – thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so sorry for the late reply – Ive made this cake with gluten free flour instead of semolina before and while it comes out quite tasty, the texture isn’t as “airy” as when using semolina. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season, Happy New Year!

  22. Kruti khara says:

    I want to make this cake. What can be the substitute of the eggs in the cake?

  23. allie says:

    SHASHI – love this cake! Cake is my jam. This is so unusual and beautiful and I love all the great memories that went into it. Really spectacular. Thank you for sharing here. I love all the photos of your trip to London too. I would love to go to that Ottolenghi’s restaurant and then go hide at Hyde Park. Once the treats are gone, why then I would come out to play. 🙂 Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

  24. Gaila Perez says:

    Beautiful cake Shashi!

  25. I’ve never made a semolina cake before Shashi, but I can imagine that those flavours of cardamom, rosewater, almond and pitachio and rose syrup mixed together make this an altogether amazing cake. Plus it looks so moist too! You’ve made a very clear set of “how to” photographs and steps. I like that so I’m pinning this for future. I know you had fun in London when I read your previous posts, but I didn’t know you had THIS much fun trying out this cake. 🙂

  26. Neha says:

    Excellent shots and awesome cake with real ingredients packed in! I am in love with the texture of this semolina cake and can’t wait to smell it in my kitchen!

    • Al says:

      Way too much lemon, this came out with very little rose water taste as a result. I’d miss out the zest and half the lemon in the syrup.

  27. I am all about fun new cakes, and this sounds like a delicious option to try out! Although, like you, I might have been a bit perplexed about the lack of frosting…but I trust you here. Filling up a box of to-go goodies and then heading off to Hyde Park to nibble on ’em sounds like my kind of afternoon. I bet it was fun reliving those memories when you made this cake, huh? Glad you found a substitute that works so you can this one here in the States. That would be one heck of a commute to get another slice! Looks delicious, and I definitely want to try this one out sometime soon!

  28. Frosting is nice if I don’t have to eat them…prefer a real cake like this…absolutely heavenly with real quality ingredients. I need to get some pistachios to make this ASAP!