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Cyprus cuisine with Marilena: shamali cake
Shamali Cake
Cyprus cuisine with Marilena
Evgeniya Theodorou
Author: Evgeniya Theodorou

Our dear friend Ms. Marilena Joannides has invited us to taste her specialty cake based on a popular recipe.

Everyone knows that Cypriots really love sweets and have many different desserts, which are usually generously soaked in syrup and made using spices. Shamali (σάμαλι in Greek) is no exception.

It is a type of pastry that is very popular both in Cyprus and Greece (where it is known as kalo prama, which literally means «good thing»). Shamali is sold at most supermarkets and bakeries and can be ordered at a restaurant. There are many ways to make shamali, but the true version is made with grainy, filo dough, a light hint of neroli and an almond-covered crust.

You should definitely try making it!


Shamali Cake

Recipe by Marilena Joannides

Shamali Cake


Cream of wheat (semolina) – 550 gr

Baking powder – 1 teaspoon

Mastikha* (ground up) – 1/4 teaspoon

Vegetable oil – 200 ml

Sugar – 200 gr

Goat or sheep milk yoghurt (unfiltered) – 250 gr

Almonds for decorating – 24 pieces

For the syrup:

Sugar – 400 gr

Water – 400 ml

Neroli flower water (made with bitter orange) – 2 teaspoons

Cooking method

First prepare the syrup: mix water and sugar and bring to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Stir for 5 minutes.

Let it cool, then add flower water and stir again.

Mix mastikha and a small amount of cream of wheat (semolina). Then add the rest of the cream of wheat and baking powder.

In a blender mix oil, sugar and yoghurt. Blend well. If you don't have a blender, then whisk by hand. Add the cream of wheat mixture and mix thoroughly.

Spread the dough over a baking sheet and cut into 24 pieces. Decorate each piece with an almond.

Bake for 60 minutes at 160 °C. Use the fanned oven setting and bake until golden brown.

Pour the syrup over your dessert while it's still hot and let it soak (this will take only a few minutes).


* Mastikha — is a food additive and a natural flavoring agent derived from Pistacia Lentiscus's tar. It is used in cooking as well as to make «Elma» gum, whose anti-bacterial properties are said to be very good for your gums and even intestinal health.

Recipe by Marilena Joannides.


Enjoy your dessert!

Written by Evgeniya Kondakova-Theodorou.