Usbu Al Zainab ~ Crunchy Cheese Fingers



It is the tenth of the month, so time for the Muslim Food Blogger Challenge! Last month we completed a successful one year of this challenge, and here we are now entering into our second year, Alhamdulillah…


We decided we must start this year sweet, and I had no other better option to choose than “Arabic Sweets”. The Arab world is filled with decadent, drool-worthy, tough-on-the-waistline options for sweets. Most of the desserts are very rich in every sense – either you have a lot of use of cream, loads of nuts, drizzles of sugar syrup, so on and so forth. But it is definitely an indulgence that you wouldn’t mind having and have trouble with stopping too! They are so tempting that saying a “no” after one bite is really tough. Even though I enjoy them on and off, I haven’t been really successful in making them at home as such. Here are some that I have made at home and really enjoyed them too…


Umm Ali – two ways here and here

Layali Lubnan

Aish Saraya

Halawat Timman

MamoulΒ – our very first MFB challenge

Basseema – one of the hits on the blog!

Muhallabia – two ways, the normal and the vegan, that too in chocolate!

Khailat Al-Nahl


I had a dud of trying to make kunafa once, which I mentioned on the blog as well. For this challenge as well, I had faced another dud… πŸ™




I have been wanting to make basbousa since long. Basbousa doesn’t need any introduction – this semolina cake softened with loads of sugar syrup flavored with rose water or orange blossom water is a worldwide favorite. As easy it may sound, I have been unlucky with making it. My first attempt turned out raw – I realized my error later. My pan size was small, since it was not mentioned in the recipe I had used. Somehow I managed to finish off that batch and then didn’t try again till this challenge was up. I tried it again over a weekend and that too when I was having guests and thought it turned out decent, it was still not perfect. I realised I hadn’t poured enough syrup to make it melt in the mouth, and I thought I had over-baked the basbousa as well. It didn’t stay much though, B took some for his friends and I bought some for my colleagues who liked it, but not good enough for me to appear on the blog. I was a bit dejected since I didn’t want to recipe test again at a time when I am trying my level best to be away from sweets. πŸ™


My plan B was to dig into my drafts and Alhamdulillah, I found this beauty I had made during Ramadan – please don’t count back the months! πŸ˜‰ Usbu Zainab literally means “the fingers of Zainab” and I have no clue why it is called so. I had discovered this on Shab’s page during the wee-days of my cooking frenzy and was one of my first tested and successful recipes made. While Azza was small, we used to have a help who would come home in the morning and be with the girls till I came back from work, as umma would keep going to India for her treatments during that time. She would come on Saturdays to help me out with household chores. She hinted that she used to make these quite frequently at her local sponsor’s house during her first job, but she had no idea what it was called. I did tell her I had made it once, and then that day we ended up making a batch for our tea time!


The beauty of this dessert is it’s simplicity. All you need is ready-made samosa sheets, sturdy cheese and sugar syrup! I have used Kiri square cream cheese here, but you can use the triangle ones as well, that don’t melt that easily in room temperature. A small piece of cheese is rolled up in the samosa sheet and fried till golden brown, with the heat causing the cheese to melt. As soon as it comes out of the pan and drained, it is drizzled with warm sugar syrup all over and enjoyed almost immediately. We can’t do that during Ramadan since we have to wait till Iftar time, hehe… though the rolls stayed crunchy right till the last one was devoured from the plate! The only little caution to be taken is while folding the cheese in – Keep the cheese at the left hand corner, fold the sides towards the cheese like a protection and then start rolling so that the cheese is shielded, or else it will ooze into the oil while frying and the spluttering is no fun! Without much blabbering, moving on to this simple recipe… and feeling so glad that I at least did the challenge, though my plans were derailed! πŸ˜€ Alhamdulillah…





5 from 1 vote

Usbu Al Zainab ~ Crunchy Cheese Fingers

Course Desserts
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 -8
Author Rafeeda


  • 30 samosa sheets
  • 10 square cream cheese cut into 3 pcs each
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour mixed with one tbsp water to make a slurry
  • Oil for deep frying
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp rose water


  • Prepare the flour slurry and set aside.
  • Take one samoosa sheet, keep one piece of cheese in the center at the beginning.
  • Slightly fold the top portion into the cheese, just to cover it and then roll the sheet like a cigar. Rub a little of the slurry at the edge and stick.
  • Repeat this process with all the sheets.
  • While preparing the rolls, heat water and sugar till the sugar is all dissolved and it looks syrupy. Add the rosewater and switch off. Keep the syrup warm.
  • Heat sufficient oil in a wide frying pan enough to cover the rolls. Fry in batches till golden brown. Drain onto a kitchen towel.
  • Spread the fried rolls on a plate and drizzle the sugar syrup all over it just before serving. Enjoy warm!


If you just roll the sheet after keeping the cheese without folding the top, the cheese will melt and ooze out while frying, causing the oil to splutter.
This is best enjoyed warm.


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Join the Conversation

  1. Thats one of irresistible middle eastern sweet snack!!!! One of my favorite one too! You reminded me to make it sooner πŸ˜„!
    Me too had one middle eastern dessert in draft, but because of ugly click I hesitated to post!! hope to participate in next challenge insha allah!!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Ugly clicks wouldn’t have matters… I am sure your ugly would still be good enough.. Thank you so much Nadira… πŸ™‚

  2. Crunchy yet creamy…these would be a hit at any party!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Angie…

  3. I never knew this dessert is such a simple one… this is like my sweet mini samosa… just that shape is different! πŸ™‚ I love to try this! InshaAllah.. About the Basbousa, I am sure you will nail it soon! And yes, I do remember you made this for iftar! πŸ˜›

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Hehe… I don’t want you to have such good memory… πŸ˜› InShaAllah, hoping to nail the Basbousa soon… Thank you so much Fami… πŸ™‚

  4. 5 stars
    I love Arabic sweets.. but have not tasted this yet. This sounds simple and easy. InshaAllah will try sometime πŸ™‚

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Femina… πŸ™‚

  5. Never heard about it but it is a drool worthy dessert…

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Amrita…

  6. I can feel the the crispness from the picture it self..even I have made these cheese stuffed samosa leaf but made that into samosa… pouring the sugar syrup is intresting

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Asheera…

  7. I love this uzbu al zainab!Simple and delicious ryt!Even i made it for a challenge and used same almost same plate for serving hehe!ua picture is tempting me to make it again!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Hehe… you have so many props, no? Thank you so much Shazia…

  8. Perfect quick treat! this looks so yum

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Veena…

  9. That looks so flavourful and yum… perfect for chai time

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Anupa…

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