Mahalabia is a deliciously creamy and silky milk pudding from the Middle East that not only tastes incredible but it's also super easy to make with just a few pantry staple ingredients! It's truly an ancient dessert that has been enjoyed for centuries and is most commonly served during the holy month of Ramadan.
- WHAT IS MAHALABIA
- WHERE DID MAHALABIA ORIGINATE FROM?
- WHAT MAKES THIS MAHALABIA RECIPE SPECIAL?
- HOW TO SERVE MAHALABIA
- 🥘 INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR MAHALABIA
- 🔪 HOW TO MAKE MAHALABIA
- 💭 COOKING TIPS FOR MAHALABIA
- 📖 DELICIOUS VARIATIONS FOR MAHALABIA
- 🍲 MORE DESSERT RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
- 🌡️ HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER MAHALABIA
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Today, it's enjoyed all across the Middle East and is a beloved dessert in many countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iran, and even Turkey where it's called Muhallebi.
What's best about this decadent dessert is that you can flavor it however you like, with extracts or purees, and even garnish it with your favorite nuts and dried fruit for a truly personalized and delicious milk pudding! It's a complete crowd-pleaser that you'll love!
In this recipe, we'll be using a combination of milk and heavy cream to create a rich, creamy, and luxurious texture, while the addition of flour and cornstarch will give it a silky smooth consistency. Plus, the subtle vanilla flavor makes it a perfect dessert to enjoy after a hearty meal or as a sweet treat on its own.
Whether you're looking to impress your guests with a delicious dessert or simply want to indulge in a sweet treat, this mahalabia recipe is sure to hit the spot. So, let's get started and learn how to make this Ramadan favorite!
WHAT IS MAHALABIA
Mahalabia, also known as muhallebi, is a delicious sweet milk pudding dessert originating from the Middle East. It's made with milk, sugar, and a thickening agent like cornstarch, flour, or rice flour.
Using cornstarch. gives it a silky, smooth texture while using rice flour will give it a more grainy flavor, making it similar to the Indian rice pudding Kheer. We'll be making this mahalabia with vanilla, but it can also be flavored with rose water or orange blossom water.
You can serve your Mahalabia in individual glass bowls or a large trifle dish, and garnish it however you like using your favorite nuts and dried nuts. When served in individual glasses, it looks elegant and worthy of the perfect holiday dessert!
WHERE DID MAHALABIA ORIGINATE FROM?
Mahalabia (or muhallebi) was introduced to Arab cuisine in the late 7th century by a Persian cook. The cook served it to an Arab general named Al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra, who liked it so much he named it after himself!
By the 10th century, there were three main versions of this recipe: milk thickened with ground rice, milk with rice grains and chicken, and an egg custard without rice.
The earliest recorded recipe, however, comes from two Arab cookbooks in the 13th century. Both of these recipes were spiced pudding variations with mutton instead of chicken.
The version we know today can be traced back to 1530 to the Ottoman empire. This meatless version flavored with rose water is very similar to what we'll be making today.
An English cookbook from the 19th century actually referred to Mahalabia as 'Ramadan Cakes,' and rightly so, considering just how popular this dessert is during the month of Ramadan.
As you can see, mahalabia is a dish with a history as rich as its taste!
WHAT MAKES THIS MAHALABIA RECIPE SPECIAL?
Perfect texture: Most traditional mahalabia recipes only use milk. However, we'll be using heavy cream also, which makes it rich and creamy!
Incredible flavor: Milk, heavy cream, and butter make a delicious flavor combination. These ingredients and a little sugar give it a subtle richness and great depth of flavor.
Versatile: You can customize Mahalabia by garnishing it with the nuts of your choice or change up the flavor of the milk pudding itself by adding different extracts or rose water for a more authentic touch. Check out my variation section below for more ideas!
HOW TO SERVE MAHALABIA
Since Muhallebi is such a traditional dish, it is frequently served at social events, especially during the holy month of Ramadan for Iftar and Eid. It's super convenient for dinner parties because you don't need to do any last-minute preparation. After all, it is a chilled dessert.
You can add pistachios or a variety of nuts for a satisfying crunch. It's also delicious with a bit of cinnamon, some shredded coconut flakes, or raisins on top. You can get as creative as you want with this versatile dessert!
The most elegant method to serve it is in small individual dessert cups on a nice platter with your favorite tea or coffee. This milk pudding has the ability to add a touch of class to any dinner party!
🥘 INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR MAHALABIA
All you need is a few, simple ingredients to make this delicious Middle Eastern milk pudding at home! Let's take a look at some of the main ingredients:
You can scroll down to the recipe card for further details and instructions.
Milk: We will use a decent amount of milk in this recipe. It has a naturally creamy flavor with a smooth and silky texture that's perfect for our mahalabia and also forms the base of this milk pudding.
Heavy cream: Next, we need some heavy cream for this recipe. It has a much higher fat content than milk and, when mixed together, makes a rich, luxurious, and indulgent flavor.
Cornstarch: To get a perfect texture, we'll use cornstarch to give our Mahalabia that incredible silky texture that it's known and loved for.
Flour: My secret ingredient for this recipe is all-purpose flour! Not only will it enhance the silky texture of this tasty milk pudding, but it'll also allow it to last longer than 2 days when stored in the refrigerator!
Butter: Butter will give us a slightly nutty flavor and make this mahalabia delightfully creamy. It also adds its own richness, making this dessert even more indulgent!
🔪 HOW TO MAKE MAHALABIA
Making Mahalabia is easier than you can imagine. In just a few simple steps, you'll end up with the tastiest milk pudding you've ever had!
The full instructions are in the recipe card below, but let's look at the main steps to making this treat.
To start, take a small bowl and add the sugar, cornstarch, and 1 cup of milk. Mix well and keep aside for later.
Next, add the remaining milk, heavy cream, and flour in a saucepan with the heat off. Whisk these ingredients together until there are no lumps, then turn the heat to medium. Keep stirring until it thickens a little and starts to boil.
Stir the cornstarch mixture, then pour it over the flour and milk mixture in the saucepan. Keep whisking on medium-low heat until the pudding thickens.
Turn down the heat to low, then add the vanilla and butter, stirring until the butter melts. Continue stirring for 2 minutes after adding the butter.
Turn the heat off and pour the mahalabia into serving bowls or glasses. Garnish it with your favorite nuts or shredded coconut, or drizzle it with caramel sauce.
Your delicious Mahalabia (Muhallebi) is ready to be served!
💭 COOKING TIPS FOR MAHALABIA
Use unsalted butter: It’s best to use unsalted butter, but if you only have salted butter on hand, then I recommend adding a little more sugar to the mahalabia.
Use a heavy pot: When making this mahalabia recipe, use a heavy-bottomed pot if possible. This helps the pudding not burn or stick to the bottom and also helps ensure that the pudding cooks evenly.
Measure and stir: When making this recipe, it's important to follow the instructions closely and pay attention to detail. Make sure to measure all the ingredients carefully and stir them constantly while cooking. This way you'll get a creamy and smooth pudding without any lumps or burned bits.
Let it cool before serving: It's best to let mahalabia cool for a few minutes before serving so that it has time to set properly. If you serve it right away, it may be too runny.
📖 DELICIOUS VARIATIONS FOR MAHALABIA
Mahalabia is a delicious and versatile dessert that can be easily customized to your tastes! Here are some delicious variations you can try:
Rose water: For an authentic flavor, add rose water or orange blossom water to your mahalabia instead of vanilla extract. My family and I are not a fan of it, so I skipped that in this recipe, but feel free to add it if you'd like!
Nuts: Feel free to garnish it with any of your favorite chopped nuts, such as pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans, or a combination of them! You can even add some shredded coconut or edible rose petals on top.
Extracts: You can also flavor your mahalabia with different extracts to change up the flavor, such as almond extract or lemon extract.
Chocolate: Add a few tablespoons of cocoa powder to the pudding for an extra decadent treat and stir until combined. You can also top it with chocolate shavings for a truly indulgent experience!
Fruity: You can also add some fruit puree on top before serving, such as mango or strawberry puree. Alternatively, you can fold it into the pudding while cooking it!
🍲 MORE DESSERT RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
🌡️ HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER MAHALABIA
Let the Mahalabia cool to room temperature, then cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for 3 to 4 days.
Freezing Mahalabia isn't recommended as it will change the consistency considerably.
Mahalabia (Muhallebi) Middle Eastern Silky Milk Pudding
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- In a small bowl, add the sugar, cornstarch, and 1 cup of milk. Mix well and keep aside.
- While the heat is off, add 1 cup of milk, heavy cream, and flour In a saucepan and . Whisk until there are no lumps then turn on the heat to medium.
- Keep stirring the previous mixture until it thickens a little and boils.
- Stir the cornstarch mixture and then pour it over the flour and milk mixture. Keep whisking or stirring on medium low heat until the pudding thickens.
- Turn the heat to low, add the vanilla and butter and stir until the butter melts. Keep stirring for 2 minutes after adding the butter.
- Turn off the heat and pour the Mahalabia into serving bowls or glasses. Garnish with your favorite nuts, shredded coconuts, or drizzle with caramel sauce.
- You can add rose water instead of vanilla to the Mahalabia for the authentic flavor, however at home we prefer not to use it.
- I have used a combination of flour and cornstarch instead of just cornstarch to get a creamy texture and richer flavor that lasts for more than two days when refrigerating the mahalabia.
- It’s best to use unsalted butter but if you have salted butter then add a little more sugar to the mahalabia.
- Refrigerate the mahalabia when it cools completely and ensure covering it so its flavor dose not get altered by other food in the fridge.
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