A creamy and aromatic Middle Eastern pudding…
Having lived in UAE for my whole life, I have a special liking towards Arabic food. At any time, I would prefer the Arabic mix grill over the masala dosa or tandoori chicken. Same is the case of sweets. I love their range of sweets, which is however very calorific as compared to our Indian sweets, as most of it are literally drenched in sweet syrup. That doesn’t mean that they do not have any simple desserts as such. In fact, I have to say that the pudding called Muhallabieh, which is basically a cream pudding, thickened with corn flour, is one of the easiest desserts to make. I used to order this each time we visited an Arabic restaurant, till I found the recipe in a magazine and was amazed at the ease of making it at home!
Updated with new pictures and refreshed recipe on April 8, 2022: This was initially published as a guest post on another blogger’s page. While having a discussion with another fellow blogger, she mentioned having a problem with a guest post she did for the same blogger around the same time. Thankfully, I had already updated the post on the blog, as I usually do, so my recipe was still in tact. Moreover, I thought, since the recipe came into my attention and I have been craving for it, why not make it? Ramadan is one of the best times to enjoy such light desserts during Iftar time or as post dinner treat. So there you go, a much deserved face lift for a favorite dessert of mine… 🙂
Muhallabia, just like many Arab desserts, are made in many countries, like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and even Turkey. The only difference is in the base pronunciation of the dessert. Initially the pudding was made with ground rice flour, but now most of the time, it is cooked with corn flour, since it makes the dessert creamier and leaves no after taste, like rice flour may do. Come Ramadan and you will find huge packs of Muhallabia ready mixes on sale. All you need are cupboard staples available at home and you are ready to go. Each time my brother would get tempted to pick them up, I would literally shush him from buying it and rather make it this way at home. 😀
The dessert is meant to be on the sweeter side, to balance the flavorings added. I love the mix of rose water and orange blossom water, as is used in so many Arab desserts like the Layali Lubnan and the Aish el Saraya. Oh, how can I forget about using it in Kunafa. However, it is not necessary to use both, so you can use whichever you have in your pantry, which is usually the rose water. Also, mastic gum is used to give the pudding a stringy texture. However, I have skipped it since I don’t have it with me. It is an expensive ingredient and I am sure I won’t be using it as much too. So if you do have mastic hiding in your pantry, then use a very small pc crushed while whisking all the ingredients together. I assure you, once you make this, it leaves you wanting more… for sure…
As usual, storing up the old click too… 🙂
Muhallabieh | Muhallabia ~ Middle Eastern Cream Pudding
- 500 ml milk
- 250 gm cream 2 x 125 gm packs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 tbsp corn flour
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 tsp orange blossom water optional but recommended
- Pistachios for garnish
- Mix the corn flour into 1/3 cup of milk to a thick paste, without lumps and set aside.
- In a thick bottomed saucepan or a non-stick pan, combine the remaining milk, cream and sugar and bring to the mixture to boil.
- As soon as you start seeing bubbles on the side, pour in the corn flour paste and continuously whisk till well incorporated and the mixture starts to thicken.
- Switch off. Add the rose water and orange blossom water and combine well.
- Pour into 6 serving bowls, allow to cool completely.
- Keep it in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours or till ready to serve.
- Serve chilled with pistachios garnished on the top.
If you like to try more variations, then I already have two more options on the blog – Vegan Chocolate Muhallabiah and Mango Muhallabiah, which I can’t wait to make again once mangoes start coming into the market… Hehe…