Mahalabia – a Middle Eastern Dessert

  • Author: Azlin Bloor
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 (Makes just over 1 litre/4 cups) 1x


Mahalabia is a super quick and easy, creamy, milk based dessert from the Middle East, popular during the month of Ramadan.



  • 500ml (2 cups) fresh whole milk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) evaporated milk
  • 150g (5oz) white sugar
  • 5 Tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 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)


  1. Make a paste with the cornflour and about 3 Tbsp of the fresh milk.
  2. Combine this cornflour paste, both types of milk and the sugar in a heavy based saucepan or milk pan and stir to mix.
  3. Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring stirring it occasionally.
  4. After about 5 minutes, you’ll notice the milk mixture begin to thicken slowly.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. To serve, drizzle the rose syrup over it (if using) and sprinkle with nuts.


Total time does not include chilling time.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


  • Serving Size: Makes 8-10 small wine glass servings

Keywords: easy dessert, dessert recipe, ramadan recipe, middle eastern food