'Revani.' The Cake Of Many Names

Saturday June 29, 2013

By Elizabeth Taviloglu, Guide for Turkish Food

If you've travelled anywhere in the eastern Mediterranean, you've most likely sampled a local dessert of sweet, tender sponge cake made with semolina instead of flour that's been steeped in sticky syrup. This dessert is best known as 'revani' (reh-VAH-nee) in Turkey, Greece and Armenia.

Did you know that there are countless versions of this cake existing throughout eastern Mediterranean and Middle East? And all with slightly different ingredients and different names?

In Turkey, 'revani' is usually flavored with lemon or orange zest and sometimes rose water and garnished with ground pistachios and shredded coconut. But as you travel around this area of the world, while the basic recipe for 'revani' remains the same, the flavorings as well as the names change as you go along.

In northern African countries like Egypt and Morocco, this dessert is known as 'basbousa' or 'basboosa' where it's flavored with cinnamon and sometimes tumeric. In Libya, it's called 'safra' and dates are added to the batter.

In countries to the southeast of Turkey like Syria and Lebanon, it sometimes goes by the name of 'harisi,' 'sfouf,' and 'namoura' and is sometimes flavored with honey and grape molasses. Where ever you get the chance to taste this sweet, sticky dessert one thing is clear. You'll definitely ask for seconds .

'Revani' is great not only for dessert, but with coffee, too. Try this recipe for basic Turkish 'revani' and expirement with different flavorings, spices and garnishes until you find what works best for you.

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