Guest Recipe: Grandma Marinous’ Kumba Cake


Recipe and photo courtesy of author Sonia Tashjian

The following recipe for Kumba Cake comes from Sonia Tashjian’s grandmother. This cake is very flavorful due to its combination of spice and sweet, but tends to be rather dense in texture. It is also a great Lenten treat since it contains no dairy or eggs.

Grandma Marinous’ Kumba Cake


5 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

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2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground mahlab

1 cup olive oil

1 cup boiling water

1 cup chopped nuts (walnut, almond, pistachio, hazelnut)

1/2 cup raisins (if desired)
A coin, wrapped in foil

1/2 cup white sesame seeds for the top


If you desire, lightly roast the flour in a dry, non-stick skillet stirring often, until flour turns very lightly golden. Allow to cool. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and the spices in a large mixing bowl.

Add the oil and boiling water, stir until a thick dough is formed. Add the nuts and raisins.

Spread the dough in a large, non-stick baking pan. Put the wrapped coin in it and cover it with dough.

Dip your hands in water and smooth out the surface of the dough. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the surface to garnish.

Bake in a preheated at 350° F, about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

Readers can learn about Armenian cuisine and traditions at:

Sonia Tashjian was born in Ainjar, Lebanon, and currently lives and works in Armenia.

Though she is a poet and a philologist, for 10 years she has had a TV cooking program, presenting Armenian traditional cuisine. She works at Houshamadyan association’s website, TorontoHye Magazine of Canada, and Zham Magazine of Russia, writing a variety of articles and stories about Armenian cuisine, history, and culture. She has written four cookbooks.



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