Samali (Σάμαλι)


Samali is a semolina cake flavoured with syrup and mastic (mastiha) and soaked with a sweet syrup

Σάμαλι. Greeks love sweet and sticky desserts. There is an entire class of desserts called Siropiasta, which loosely translates to syrupy or syrup-soaked. There are many ways to get your syrup on! You can enjoy traditional Greek pastries like galaktoboureko or baklava or lesser known cakes like portokalopita and revani.

What is samali?

Another lovely and not too popular syrup cake is samali (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable). This traditional Greek cake uses semolina instead of flour and Greek yogourt in lieu of eggs, fat, or other dairy. The flavour of mastic is traditional. Although you can omit the mastic, every effort should be made to find this uniquely flavoured plant resin, obtained from the mastic tree. Don’t worry, it’s not that difficult to find since you can order mastic here.


How to make samali

The lovely flavour of the mastic is not the only unique thing about this cake. Samali is a dessert that you assemble, and then let sit for a few hours before baking it. This is to allow the semolina to soak up any liquid from the yogourt and orange juice. When the cake then gets baked, you end up with a crispy and toasty texture. Just lovely!


Helpful hints

What type of semolina is used to make this syrup-soaked cake?

Although this recipe calls for coarse semolina, you can also use the finer semolina. The texture of your samali will be different, but it will work out just fine. We love to use the Clic brand of semolina, but you can definitely use what you prefer and have easily available.

Love samali and looking for some more siropiasta desserts? You’ve come to the right place!



Apple baklava

Watch us below make Greek revani with coconut!

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Samali (Σάμαλι)

A semolina cake flavoured with syrup and mastic (mastiha) and soaked with a sweet syrup
4.93 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 15 pieces
Calories: 227kcal
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 1 8 x 10 inch baking pan


For the cake

  • 2 cups coarse semolina
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ cups Greek yogourt, plain
  • 1 ⅓ cups superfine sugar see Recipe Note
  • 1/2 tsp ground masticha (mastic powder) see Recipe Note
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp grated orange rind
  • vegetable oil for lightly coating baking pan
  • slivered almonds for decorating cake

For the syrup

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • orange peel, white pith removed


For the syrup

  • Combine all of the syrup ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
    1 1/2 cup water, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, orange peel, white pith removed, 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

For the cake

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and mix until well combined. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a plastic spatula incorporate the rest of the ingredients and mix well until everything is well combined.
    2 cups coarse semolina, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 ¼ cups Greek yogourt, plain, 1 ⅓ cups superfine sugar, 1/2 tsp ground masticha (mastic powder), 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed, 1 tbsp grated orange rind
  • Lightly grease a 8 x 10 inch rectangular baking pan and pour in the batter ensuring even distribution.
    vegetable oil for lightly coating baking pan
  • Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 2 hours or until the cake appears dry (the liquid has been absorbed).
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a sharp knife to score your samali into your serving pieces. Top each piece with a slivered almond.
    slivered almonds
  • Bake, uncovered, in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and immediately pour on the cooled syrup, being sure to distribute it evenly.
  • Allow to rest for approximately 30 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!



You can purchase superfine sugar but it is not always easy to find.  Alternatively, place granulated white sugar in a blender and blend for a few seconds until your sugar is a very fine texture.
If you only find pieces of mastic (this is ideal) and need to grind it yourself, a mortar and pestle works very well.


Calories: 227kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 111mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 19IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Thanks for sharing!


  1. says:

    Love semolina!!! And i espeically love syrupy desserts!! I can’t wait to try this! I have lots of oranges in season, looking forward to using them in this dessert.

  2. enogastronomista says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I still remember the smell at my grandmother’s house in Greece❤

    1. miakouppa says:

      You’re so welcome!! We’re happy to be able to bring back some fond memories 🙂

  3. Nick @ says:

    Samali is a wonderfully simple cake to prepare that is also rich in flavor. The semolina and yogurt in this cake gives it a great texture, and the syrup is filled with flavor.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Yes, isn’t it a great cake!! Love everything about samali! 🙂

  4. Love your recipes–they are easy to read and user friendly. One comment, would it be possible to list the calories, fat, sugar, content for each recipe?

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Shirley, thanks so much for your message. We’re so glad you’re enjoying our recipes. This is something that we are really interested in doing; we do have to upgrade one of programs; and hopefully, we can get this up and running sooner then later 🙂

  5. Wow! Your Sambali recipe is really good and delicious. Some recipe releasers include ‘farina’, ‘flour’ and destroy Semolina cake.
    Thank you for the recipe.

    1. miakouppa says:

      You’re so welcome!! Glad you enjoyed our recipe 🙂 xox Helen & Billie

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