Mahalabia is a super quick, super easy, Middle Eastern dessert made with milk, slightly sweetened and flavoured with rose or orange water.
Very much like Blanc Mange, it is extremely easy to make, takes only a few minutes, then placed in the fridge to cool. Consider it the Middle East’s answer to panna cotta, minus the gelatine, which is a bonus, really!
Mahalabia is found in many Middle Eastern countries, with each one claiming ownership (of course); but whatever its origin, suffice it to say, if you like milky puddings, you’re going to love this one!
Muhallabia, as mentioned, is essentially a milk dessert, however, you can “play around” with the dairy that you use in the recipe. For example, some people like to add a little cream to the milk for a richer taste but if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of evaporated milk, especially in my desserts.
Which means that our Mahalabia recipe gets the evaporated milk treatment too! I use a mixture of fresh whole milk and evaporated milk, for an indulgent, but surprisingly, still light dessert. I’ve made this with semi skimmed milk and semi skimmed evaporated milk with very good results too, if you don’t fancy all that fat!
Can you make Mahalabia with Condensed Milk?
Absolutely! But you need to reduce the amount of sugar, to compensate, or omit the sugar altogether. So, for our recipe here:
- 750 ml (3 cups) fresh whole (full fat) milk
- 250ml (1 cup) condensed milk instead of the evaporated milk
- No sugar
- ⇒ then follow the rest of the recipe
Muhallabia can also be made a day ahead, in fact, overnight chilling (covered) gives the best result.
How to serve Mahalabia
- Crushed pistachios and almonds are used as a light topping, as you can see from the pictures and provide a wonderful contrast in texture and temperature. Don’t fancy nuts? Leave them out.
- Crushed rose petals are another common topping but to me, these don’t really do anything in terms of flavour, they just provide a visual enhancement.
- Crushed hibiscus petals are tart and while not traditional, make a great flavour contrast.
- Remember I mentioned right at the start that we flavour it with either orange flower water or rose water? I always lean towards rose and if you have access to rose syrup, that makes a wonderful topping too, slightly diluted and drizzled over.
- If you can’t get rose syrup, think fresh berries, butterscotch, caramel (salted caramel would be good). Not traditional but always good!
- Chocolate is always good too! Whether you grate some chocolate onto the mahalebi, or spoon some chocolate ganache or chocolate sauce over it.
- And, how about some balsamic strawberries for a funky fusion garnish? The sharp, tangy and sweet balsamic strawberries go extremely well with the creamy muhallabia.
Balsamic Strawberries for our Mahalabia
- 12 strawberries, quartered
- 2 Tbsp balsamic strawberries
- 1 tsp white sugar
- dash of freshly ground black pepper
⇒ Mix everything up and leave to macerate for 30-60 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Can’t get rose water or orange flower water?
Don’t flavour it or go with half a tsp of vanilla paste/extract in this recipe.
More Mahalabia Recipes on LinsFood
I love playing with variations of traditional recipes. Below are 2 very different Mahalabia recipes on here.
♥ If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Shukran! ♥
And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor.
Mahalabia – a Middle Eastern Dessert
- 500 ml (2 cups) fresh whole milk
- 500 ml (2 cups) evaporated milk
- 150 g (5 oz) white sugar
- 5 Tbsp cornflour cornstarch in the US
- 1 Tbsp rose water or orange water
- finely crushed seeds of 4 cardamoms
- slithered/crushed pistachios or toasted almonds
- 2 Tbsp of rose syrup diluted in 2 Tbsp water optional
- Make a paste with the cornflour and about 3 Tbsp of the fresh milk.
- Combine this cornflour paste, both types of milk and the sugar in a heavy based saucepan or milk pan and stir to mix.
- Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring stirring it occasionally.
- After about 5 minutes, you’ll notice the milk mixture begin to thicken slowly.
- Lower the heat down slightly to medium-low and continue cooking and stirring for another 5 minutes until the mahalabia resembles thick custard. Now you need to be careful here as the milk can catch if your heat is not low enough, or if the pan doesn’t have a thick enough base. You don’t want burnt milk or bits in your mahalabia! Just in case, do not scrape the bottom of the pan as you are stirring.
- When the mahalabia is as thick as custard, take it off the heat and add the rose/orange water (whatever you’re using) and crushed cardamom seeds and stir.
- Pour into serving dishes/cups and place in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours. It will thicken when cold. If you are going to chill it overnight, cover the cups/dishes with cling film or saucers to prevent the Mahalabia from absorbing any smells but also to stop the surface from becoming dry.
- To serve, drizzle the rose syrup over it (if using) and sprinkle with nuts.