Pandan Mahalabia (with Gula Melaka and Coconut)

Pandan mahalabia is a delicious, fragrant twist to the traditional Middle Eastern milk dessert. Topped with coconut shavings and rich, palm sugar (gula melaka).
green pudding with coconut and palm sugar in champagne glass

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Pandan mahalabia is a delicious, fragrant twist to the traditional Middle Eastern milk dessert.

Mahalabia is like panna cotta, just without the gelatine, the original version is flavoured with rose water or orange blossom water.

Today’s pandan mahalabia was a spur of the moment recipe. I was making the traditional mahalabia last week, when I happened to glance up and see the pandan leaves on the kitchen windowsill.

Cue lightbulb moment!

I thought why not. So I split the mahalabia into 2 pots and dropped a couple of pandan leaves into one. Just in case my kids weren’t keen, they’d still have the other one!

Remember I said spur of the moment? So not much thought went into it.

But I am already planning a vegan version with coconut milk, so stay tuned for that!

Pandan Mahalabia Recipe

But back to today’s pandan mahalabia. I considered adding the gula melaka (palm sugar) to the actual mix, but figured that it would muddy the waters. Literally.

Green + brown = yucky brown?

Topping the clean looking pandan mahalabia with the gula melaka and coconut would be a better idea, I thought.

And some pandan juice added to the hot mahalabia before setting, for added aroma, flavour and colour.

Result? It was awesome.

Coconut, pandan and gula melaka is such a classic South East Asian flavour, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with it!

pandan juice in small glass on brown background
fresh pandan juice

Pandan Mahalabia Ingredients

Pandan Leaves and Pandan Juice

Pandan, a type of screwpine, is an essential ingredient in Asian cooking. With its sweet, fragrant, grassy aroma, it is widely used in both savoury and sweet dishes. 

Pandan juice is obtained by chopping up some pandan leaves, adding water, and squeezing the dark green juice out.

Click here to read more.

Gula Melaka

Gula Melaka is a much darker type of palm sugar and is also quite often, a product of the coconut palm. Consequently, its flavour and scent is more concentrated than the Indian and Thai palm sugar variety.

Think molasses and caramel. Then multiply by 10!

Click here to read more.

How to make Pandan Mahalabia

  1. Mix the milk, cornflour, sugar and pandan leaves and bring to a simmer.
  2. Make pandan juice (5 minutes).
  3. Cook until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and add pandan juice, after losing the pandan leaves.
  5. Pour into glasses/bowls and chill.

Easy, right? Shall we go get our aprons on?

Are you a sweet person? Let me know with a comment below. And if you like the recipe, don’t forget that all important, 5-star rating!

Lin xx

My other 2 Mahalabia Recipes

More sweet recipes on the Desserts Page

green pudding with coconut and palm sugar in champagne glass

Pandan Mahalabia (with Gula Melaka and Coconut)

Pandan mahalabia is a delicious, fragrant twist to the traditional Middle Eastern milk dessert. Topped with coconut shavings and rich, palm sugar (gula melaka).
5 from 8 votes
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Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: desserts, eid, mahalabia, malaysian, ramadan
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 8 -10 (Makes just over 1 litre/4 cups)
Calories: 81kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 1 litre whole or semi skimmed milk
  • 120 g white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp cornflour cornstarch
  • 2 pandan leaves

Pandan Juice


  • Gula Melaka or jaggery, dark brown sugar, shaved or grated
  • desiccated coconut or fresh coconut shavings


  • Make a paste with the cornflour and about 3 Tbsp of the milk.
  • Combine this cornflour paste, milk and the sugar in a heavy based saucepan or milk pan and stir to mix.
  • Tie the 2 pandan leaves together, with a knot in the middle and drop it into the saucepan.
  • Bring to boil on medium heat, 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 stir in the pandan juice (see below).
  • Divide into serving glasses and bowls, leave at room for 10 minutes, then cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 3 hours.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle with the gula melaka shavings and coconut.

Pandan Juice

  • This can be done as soon as you place the milk on the hob. Or before if you are afraid of burning your mahalabia.
  • Cut up your pandan leaves into 5cm (2″) lengths and place them in a chopper with enough water to allow them to be ground. You’ll end up with a wet, fibrous pulp.
  • Take the blade out, pour in the rest of the water and mix.
  • Strain the pandan juice into a bowl or jug and add to the recipe.


Calories: 81kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
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9 thoughts on “Pandan Mahalabia (with Gula Melaka and Coconut)”

    1. Hi John, from a personal point of view, no, because I don’t like the combination of the two. However, it’s a matter of taste. Any reason why you’d want to mix the two? If you’re not a fan of coconut milk, then just use cow’s milk completely (and cream or evaporated milk), like in the original recipe:

  1. 5 stars
    Oh this is so cool too. I just came from your old mahalabia post. I tried pandan when I was holidaying in Indonesia, so really excited to try this too. Thanks for all these ideas!

  2. Farida Ahmed

    5 stars
    Oh wow, this is so lovely! I love both your mahalabia, having made them for family and friends often over the years. I’ve pencilled this in for tomorrow’s iftar. Thanks Azlin.

  3. Jaime o'neill

    5 stars
    looks delicious. just got to order some pandan leaves and i can make this. awesome recipe Azlin, thank you!

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