I absolutely love easy desserts, especially when my family gets that craving and I don't have anything prepared. Which is why Mahalabia is my number one go-to dessert. It's a delicious Middle Eastern milk pudding that comes together using just 4 ingredients and about 10 minutes.
It is super popular in many Arabic countries much like Baklawa and Znoud El Sit. It is also known as "Muhallebi" in Turkey. Served in small cups and garnished beautifully, Mahalabia is an ancient Middle Eastern dessert.
How to make Mahalabia (Muhallebi) using both corn starch or rice flour
This dessert is so easy to make, anyone can make it. You have two options; you can either make it using corn starch or rice flour, based on your preference. Corn starch will yield a smooth consistency, while rice flour will have a bit of texture and it's actually closer to the way Mahalabia was made by my grandmothers in Iraq (starting from rice!). I make them both ways but use corn starch more often simply because I always have it in my cupboard. Here's how it goes:
- You start by adding whole milk, corn starch OR rice flour, and sugar in a pot and whisking everything together until the corn starch/rice flour is dissolved
- Then you add the cream (which is optional) and whisk over medium heat continuously for about 10 minutes until the mixture has thickened to a pudding consistency
- You then add a bit of cardamom, orange blossom water or rose water per preference
- You pour it into serving cups (you can do one big dish as well), pop in the fridge to cool for at least a few hours, garnish with nuts when ready to serve and enjoy!
What does Mahalabia taste like?
Mahalabia (Muhallebi) is a sweet milk pudding that will take on whatever flavour you choose to add. Traditionally, we use ground cardamom and garnish it with a dusting of cinnamon. However you can also use rose water or orange blossom water. I tend to alternate between them for a bit of change. If you're not big on cardamom or floral notes, you can add a bit of vanilla extract, almond extract, any other flavouring. You can also skip it all together for just a sweet milk pudding.
The cream I add is completely optional but I find it gives it more of a decadent and luxurious texture, which is the way I want to make it for guests. I often also skip it and just use milk. If you want to get fancy as well, you can add a fruit puree on top, like mango or apricot.
How to serve Mahalabia
Muhallebi is a classic, so we serve it often at gatherings and dinner parties, especially during Ramadan and Eid. Because it's a chilled dessert, it is so convenient for dinner parties because you don't need to do any last minute prep. You can garnish it with pistachios or a combination of nuts for a great crunch. You can also use shredded coconut or raisins on top, or even sprinkle it with cinnamon. Get creative!
The most beautiful way to serve it is in small individual dessert cups, and bring it out on a beautiful tray with some tea or coffee. It will add elegance to your meal!
If you make this milk pudding, be sure to leave me a review and some feedback, I love hearing what you have to say!
For more easy dessert recipes, check out:
- Aish El Saraya - Middle Eastern Bread Pudding
- Chocolate Lazy Cake - No Bake
- Easy Nutella Cookies
- 3 Ingredient Toffee Squares
Mahalabia | 4 Ingredient Middle Eastern Milk Pudding
- 4 cups or 1 L whole milk
- 7 tablespoons corn starch OR 12 tablespoons rice flour
- ¾ - 1 cups sugar based on preference
- 1 cup whipping cream optional. If you don't want to add it, replace with 1 cup milk
- 1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom OR 1 tablespoon orange blossom water OR 1 tablespoon rose water
- Pistachio for garnish or any other nuts, shredded coconut, raisins
- In a pot, mix the whole milk, cream, sugar, and corn starch/rice flour and whisk well until dissolved
- Place pot on medium heat and whisk continuously for about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken
- Lower the heat to low and continue whisking for a few more minutes until thickened to a pudding consistency. Ensure you lower the heat and continue whisking so the milk does not catch the bottom of the pot and burn
- Remove from heat and add your flavouring of choice (cardamom, orange blossom water or rose water)
- Place in small dessert cups and refrigerate for 2-3 hours
- When ready to serve, garnish with nuts, coconut and/or raisins and enjoy