Muhallebi/Mahalabia is a delicious milk pudding made in much of the Middle East …

Muhallebi/Mahalabia is a delicious milk pudding made in much of the Middle East and Turkey. It has a long history and the earliest recipes date to the 10th Century, though it was probably made for much longer than that. At its core, it’s made of four ingredients; milk, starch (rice flour/cornflour), sugar and rosewater/orange blossom water.

I’ve noticed while making Sheer Khurma that dates dissolve well in warm milk and as a result I’ve been using it rather than sugar when making milk based desserts/rabdi. I use block pitted dates and cut them into smaller pieces. Not only are dates relatively healthier than sugar, they also hasten the process of reducing the milk till it becomes more creamy.

Once I heated up the milk and began to reduce it, I added the dates as well as the starch. Rice flour is the more traditional but I’ve seen cornflour being more commonly used. As a result, I’ve used a mixture of cornstarch and rice flour (3 Tbsp of each for about a liter of milk). I’ve also added cardamom/elaichi powder and rosewater (about a teaspoon).

Once the milk was sufficiently reduced, I left it in the fridge to set. I’ve used chopped pistachios, almonds and coloured desiccated coconut as toppings. The best part is there are so many different ways to garnish it, so it’s an ideal dish to have fun trying our different combinations of toppings.

I’ve also added a couple of pomegranate seeds, though I later felt they weren’t needed as they gave it a slight tarty flavour to a sweet dish. Other than that, it was absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to make it again for Iftar.

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