Mahalabia is a creamy Middle Eastern dessert made with milk, sugar, and cornstarch. This dessert is served cold and commonly topped with nuts or fruit.
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean desserts just hit differently, you know? Whether it's sütlaç (Turkish rice pudding), revani (semolina cake) or bastani (Persian saffron ice cream), every dessert is always packed with a lot of flavor and mostly very easy to make. Mahalabia is another simple dessert that I'm going to share with you today. Follow along to see how to make this simple make ahead pudding!
Table Of Contents:
What Is Mahalabia?
Mahalabia, also known as muhallebi and mahalabiyeh is a classic Middle Eastern dessert that resembles a milk pudding. Legend has it that it was made the first time by a Persian cook from Sassanid Persia and was served to an Arab general.
This dessert comes in many forms and it's one of the most popular Turkish milk desserts (süt tatlıları). The flavors could change based on the region and traditions. The version we have here is flavored with a dash of vanilla.
It takes about 20 minutes to make muhallebi and you need to let it chill in the fridge before serving it. It's an easy Middle Eastern dessert recipe that you can make ahead of time.
What Is Mahalabia Made Of?
- Milk: The most important ingredient in this recipe is the milk. Whole milk and 2% work best, however it's possible to use skim or plant based milk such as almond milk or cashew milk.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar woks best for this recipe. I don't recommend substituting with stevia, brown sugar honey or maple syrup.
- Cornstarch and flour: These are used to thicken the pudding.. You can use gluten free flour or only cornstarch is preferred.
- Egg yolk: An optional addition but I find it makes the milk pudding creamier and richer.
- Butter: To smoothen the final texture. This is optional and you ca leave it out if preferred.
How To Make Mahalabia
- Place the milk, sugar, flour, cornstarch and egg in a sauce pan and mix well to combine.
- Place the saucepan over medium high heat and stir constantly until it stars to thicken.
- Lower the heat to medium and keep stirring. Cook for a few more minutes until the mixture reaches the consistency of pudding. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in the vanilla and butter. Divide the muhallebi between serving cups or bowls and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
Based on the region, mahalabia (muhallebi) can be made with different flavors. Some common additions are cardamom, orange blossom water, rosewater and mastic. You can find all these ingredients at a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shop as well as online.
How To Serve Mahalabia
This Middle Eastern milk pudding is always served chilled in individual cups. You can garnish it with chopped nuts such as walnuts or pistachios. Chopped fruit such as strawberries as well as raisins or dried apricot would add a nice color and flavor. Even though it's not traditional, some like to top muhallebi with chocolate sauce which is really delicious.
Store muhallebi in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can also simply cover the serving bowl or cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Mahalabia cannot be frozen since it would lose its creamy texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this dessert up to 2 days in advance. Make sure to cover the cups completely.
You need to make sure that the heat isn't too high otherwise the pudding will burn at the bottom of the pot. Manage the heat and stir constantly to prevent the pudding from burning.
More Dessert Recipes
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Mahalabia Middle Eastern Milk Pudding
- 4 cups Milk see notes
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Mix the milk, sugar, flour, cornstarch and egg yolk in a saucepan.
- Place the saucepan over medium high heat and stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Lower the heat to medium and keep stirring. Cook for 10 more minutes until the mixture gets the consistency of pudding.
- Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla extract and butter.
- Divide between small serving bowls or cups and refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.
- Garnish with fruit or nuts if desired.
- You can use any kind of milk including plants based milk (almond, oat, cashew, etc) to make mahalabia (muhallbei).
- Different countries add different flavors to this dessert. Some popular additions are rosewater, cardamom, orange blossom water and mastic.
- Make sure the heat is not too high otherwise the milk will burn at the bottom of the pot.