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 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.
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!
How to make Pandan Mahalabia
- Mix the milk, cornflour, sugar and pandan leaves and bring to a simmer.
- Make pandan juice (5 minutes).
- Cook until thickened.
- Remove from heat and add pandan juice, after losing the pandan leaves.
- 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!
My other 2 Mahalabia Recipes
More sweet recipes on the Desserts Page
Pandan Mahalabia (with Gula Melaka and Coconut)
- 1 litre whole or semi skimmed milk
- 120 g white sugar
- 6 Tbsp cornflour cornstarch
- 2 pandan leaves
- 3 pandan leaves
- 4 Tbsp water
- 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.
- 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.