Mahalabia. The classic Middle Eastern milk pudding with a beautiful vibrant upgrade. Layers of pretty rose jelly, luscious milk pudding and crushed pistachios create a stunner dessert for the ultimate feast.
I don’t know about you, but for me, reinventing a classic is the perfect way to let the imagination run free. Adding a splash of color, finding the easy version of a complicated dish, or just incorporating more elements to create a stunner – it’s all about having fun in the kitchen.
So, what is mahalabia? Simply put, Middle Eastern style milk pudding. It’s so popular across the Middle Eastern countries, you’ll find so many versions of this delicious pudding. And of course, it’s super easy-to-make, but oh-so delicious.
Think about an easy milk pudding combined with a vibrant rose jelly. Doesn’t this mahalabia look so pretty? I’m a huge fan of pretty desserts, I just want to embrace the welcoming joyful tone of vibrant colors.
Obviously, the main ingredient of mahalabia is milk. You can use either full fat or skim milk. But I highly recommend using full fat milk as it makes this pudding rich and decadent. Again, this is actually a lightly sweetened milk pudding. So, you’ll only need a little amount of sugar to add that light touch of sweetness.
For this pudding, I prefer granulated or caster sugar which easily gets incorporated into the pudding giving it a nice smooth texture. Even though this pudding only need very little sweetness, feel free to add more if you like. However, make sure it doesn’t overpower the aroma and flavor of rose water.
And yes, one of the main ingredients, rose water. Truth to be told, rose water is a pantry staple in my household. I literally love the nice aroma and flavor of fresh rose petals in biryanis and curries. A dash of rose water goes a long way. Just like the beautiful aroma of fresh rose, rose water makes everything taste incredible.
To make mahalabia, you’ll need to heat milk, cream, sugar and corn flour over medium flame for about 10 minutes until it reaches a thick consistency. The secret ingredient that helps with the consistency of this dessert is corn flour or cornstarch. Fresh cream also helps to make it rich and thick. At this stage, you must keep on stirring to get that smooth texture. Rose water is added at the end of the cooking process. And that’s it. Super simple mahalabia.
But wait! Since I wanted to take this simple pudding to the next level, I decided to create a rose water jelly layer. It certainly makes this dessert beautiful. Making jelly is super simple, you just need to dissolve gelatin powder in water, add your flavoring (in this case rose water), and let it set in the fridge.
I poured the prepared milk pudding on the jelly to create a layer effect. Does it look gorgeous? The crushed green pistachios gives another contrast of color making it more beautiful.
The consistency of the perfect mahalabia will resemble thick Greek yogurt. Without a doubt, this Middle Eastern dessert is a stunner.
Watch mahalabia recipe video below:
More Middle Eastern Recipes:
- 250 ml water
- 1 tbsp gelatin powder
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 5 ml rose water
- Few drops of red food coloring
- 4 cups cold milk
- ½ cup heavy (thickened) cream
- ¾ cup - 1 cup granulated (caster) sugar
- 2 and ½ tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 20 ml rose water
- Chopped pistachios, to garnish
- Pour cold water in a bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin powder. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Set aside. When the mixture starts to thicken, add boiling water. Stir to combine. Add rose water and a few drops of red food coloring to get pink color. Pour into serving glasses. Refrigerate 2-4 hours or until set.
- Place milk, cream, sugar and cornflour in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine. Keep stirring. Add rose water. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes or until it reaches thick consistency. Pour over the set jelly. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or until set.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds or rose petals. Serve chilled.
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