If you’re Middle Eastern, chances are you already have all the ingredients for mahalabia somewhere in your kitchen. That’s the charm of this dessert: it’s delicious, it’s incredibly easy to make, and as long as you have milk, you’re good to go. 

Mahalabia is a Middle Eastern version of a set custard, only custard is thickened with egg and flavoured with vanilla, and mahalabia it’s thickened with cornflour and flavoured with rose water and cardamom. Using milk instead of cream makes this a light, fresh end to any meal. Swap the milk with your favourite plant milk, and this dessert very easily becomes vegan. 

To serve, toasted, chopped pistachio nuts are traditional, but a sprinkling of cinnamon tastes great too. 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins (plus 3 hours to set)
Serves: 6 

1 litre (4 cups) whole milk
10 whole cardamom pods
2 tbsp rose water
80g caster sugar
80g cornflour

TO GARNISH (optional)
Toasted pistachios
Rose petals

1. Add 1L milk to a saucepan and gently heat. Break open 10 cardamom pods so that the seeds are spilling out, and add all (seeds and outer skins) to the milk. Simmer on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes so the cardamom flavour infuses into the milk. Once ready, use a sieve to pour milk into another pan, and disregard the cardamom seeds and shells. 

2. In a bowl, combine the caster sugar, cornflour and around 4 tablespoons of the infused milk until you have a smooth paste. Add this, and the 2 tbsp rose water into the saucepan with the milk and whisk until all is combined and smooth. On a medium heat, keep whisking until a custard-like consistency forms, then remove from the heat.  

3. Transfer into ramekins or bowls of your choice, and leave to set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

4. Toast some pistachio nuts for around 8 minutes in the oven or frying pan, to release their oils and flavour. Once the nuts are cooled, chop and scatted over the top of your set puddings. Alternatively, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and/or rose petals. 

5. Remove from the fridge at least 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, and enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *