Gers Ogaili (Middle Eastern Saffron and Cardamom Cake)

In the heart of Kuwait’s culinary heritage lies a hidden gem — Gers Ogaili or Qurs Aqaili. This traditional cake, flavored with saffron, cardamom, and covered with sesame seeds, has roots that extend over 300 years. Moreover, its name carries significance, with “Gers” translating to “disk,” possibly referring to the round pan in which it is baked, and “Ogaily/Aqaili” refers to “Agal or Igal” an Arab men’s head clothing accessory. It is a black ring shaped cord, used to keep a ghutrah (or keffiyeh) in place. That’s further emphasizing its cultural ties.

Gers Ogaili

It’s Origins

Some believed that Uqailat men, merchants from Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia, hundreds years ago, brought this culinary treasure from the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jorden). however, their travels to neighboring countries established a practice of bringing back various types of foods, among which was Qurs Aqeel or Gers Aqeel.

Qurs Aqeel spread widely in Najd ( region in central Saudi Arabia), meanwhile its fame extended until it reached Kuwait. In Kuwait, they infused their own flavor into it by incorporating saffron, cardamom, and sesame seeds.

The use of sesame seeds is common in Kuwaiti cuisine, contributing to the cultural authenticity of Gers Ogaili. It connects the cake to traditional flavors and culinary practices.

Gers Ogaili

Gers Ogaili isn’t just a cake; it’s a symbol of celebration and warmth. Traditionally enjoyed for Eid breakfasts and holidays, it pairs perfectly with hot milk tea ” Chai Karak”, creating a comforting start to the festive day. Moreover, in the winter months, this delightful cake finds its way to tables alongside coffee and tea, spreading a sense of coziness and tradition.

Ingredients Needed To Make Gers Ogaili

Gers Ogaili
  • Eggs: room temperature eggs, they add lightness and fluffiness to the cake.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar for sweetness
  • Oil: vegetables, corn, sunflower or any type you prefer, but olive oil is not preferred.
  • Milk: lukewarm milk
  • Vanilla paste: if paste not available, it can be substituted with vanilla extract or Vanilla bean.
  • Saffron: it serves as the primary flavor for this cake. Without it, the result would be a plain vanilla bundt cake, and the saffron also imparts a delightful yellow hue to the overall appearance.
  • Cardamom: this is also essential flavor, the optimal taste is achieved with freshly ground cardamom.
  • All-purpose flour: pre-sifted, Bleached or unbleached, but I prefer unbleached.
  • Baking powder: to help the cake rise and become light and fluffy.

Saffron Sauce:

  • Condensed Milk: using it as a base for the sauce so it can’t be replaced.
  • Tahini: the addition of tahini in the sauce gives a hint of a nutty and earthy element.
  • Saffron: to intensifies the saffron flavor in the cake.
  • Milk: to soak saffron threads in, also to control thickness of the sauce as desired.

For Cake Pan:

  • Tahini: for unique flavor and easy release. you can use butter and flour instead.
  • Unroasted sesame seeds: it add a delicious nutty flavor, and a delightful crunch. It create an attractive and rustic appearance on the cake’s surface.
Gers Ogaili

How To Make Gers Ogaili Step By Step

1. Pre Heating Oven:

  • preheat your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Preparing Saffron-Infused Milk:

  • Add saffron to the milk and set it aside to infuse. This step enhances the flavor and aroma of saffron in the cake.
Gers Ogaili

3. Whipping the Eggs:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, on low to medium speed, beat the eggs and vanilla for 3-5 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy. This aeration is crucial for a light and fluffy texture.
Gers Ogaili

4. Incorporating Sugar and Liquid Ingredients:

  • Add sugar gradually and beat for an additional 3 minutes until the mixture doubles in size and turns pale yellow.
  • Pour in the oil and saffron-infused milk, beating until the ingredients are well combined. This ensures a smooth and evenly flavored batter.
Gers Ogaili

5. Preparing Dry Ingredients:

  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, cardamom, and baking powder. Thoroughly mix these dry ingredients until an even distribution.
Gers Ogaili

6. Combining Wet and Dry Mixtures:

  • Incorporate the flour mixture into the egg mixture gradually, adding it in three patches while whisking continuously on low speed. Ensure that the flour disappears into the batter seamlessly. It’s essential to be gentle during this process to preserve the airiness of the batter, resulting in a light and fluffy Gers Ogaili cake.
Gers Ogaili

7. Preparing the Cake Pan:

  • Wipe the cake pan with tahini for easy release. Sprinkle unroasted sesame seeds on the tahini-coated pan, ensuring they cover the entire mold. This adds a delightful crunch to the cake’s exterior, also it help with cake release.
Gers Ogaili

8. Baking:

  • Pour the prepared batter into the cake pan.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center; it should come out clean.
Gers Ogaili

9. Cooling and Serving:

  • Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan. This prevents it from breaking or sticking to the pan.
Gers Ogaili

Saffron Sauce:

1. Preparing Saffron-Infused Milk:

  • Add saffron to the milk and set it aside to infuse.
Gers Ogaili

2. Mixing the Sauce:

  • In a separate bowl, combine condensed milk, tahini, and the saffron soaked in warm milk. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Gers Ogaili

3. Adjusting Consistency:

  • If the sauce is too thick, add a little extra milk to achieve the desired consistency. Adjust to your preference, whether you prefer a thicker or thinner sauce.

3. Drizzling Over the Cake:

  • Drizzle the saffron sauce generously over the Gers Ogaili before serving. This adds a luscious sweetness and complements the cake’s flavors.
Gers Ogaili

Tips and Notes

  • Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature for even mixing.
  • Use high-quality saffron for a more pronounced and aromatic flavor.
  • Grease the cake pan generously to prevent sticking.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing for the best texture.
  • Don’t use roasted sesame or it will be burned.
  • You can glaze the cake with icing instead of the saffron sauce.

Here’s some recipes you might want to check out

Gers Ogaili (Middle Eastern Saffron Cake)

Sarah Yaseen
Gers Ogaili has a special spot in Kuwaiti traditions, with its unique blend of flavors. It's a go-to for Eid and holidays, often enjoyed with a cup of hot tea.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine Kuwaiti, Middle Eastern
Servings 12 people


  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp baking powder

Saffron Sauce:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • A pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tablespoons of warm milk

For Cake Pan:

  • Tahini
  • Unroasted sesame seeds


  • Add saffron to the milk and set it aside to infuse.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and vanilla for 3-5 minutes until frothy.
  • Add sugar and beat for an additional 3 minutes until the mixture doubles in size and turns a pale yellow color. Add the oil and milk with saffron, then beat until well combined.
  • In another bowl, combine flour, cardamom, and baking powder. Mix them together until well combined.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, whisking until the flour disappears.
  • Wipe the cake pan with tahini and sprinkle unroasted sesame seeds until it covers the entire mold.
  • Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan.
  • Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely, then remove it from the pan.

To Prepare Saffron Sauce:

  • In a bowl, mix all sauce ingredients until well combined.
  • Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding a little extra milk if desired, thinning it to your preference.
  • Drizzle the saffron sauce over the Gers Ogaili before serving.
Keyword gers ogaili cake, Kuwaiti cuisine, middle eastern desserts, Middle eastern recipe
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Whisked Eastern Wonders

Hello! I’m Sarah, a stay-at-home mom with a deep love for Middle Eastern flavors, especially Iraqi cuisine. Between family life’s bustle, my kitchen is my sanctuary where I meld tradition with innovation. Join me here as I share quick, flavorful dishes and my passion for photography. Let’s savor together!