14 Apr 2014

Muhallabieh is a milk-based dessert I grew up eating in Saudi Arabia.    It is light with a consistency that is somewhere between yogurt and panna cotta.  When we left Saudi, I thought it was the end of my indulging on a number of my favorite Arab foods.  Fast forward to last week, when I found with great excitement a recipe for Muhallabieh from Yotam Ottalenghi’s Jerusalem Cookbook.  Yotam recommended making this recipe with a Bay Leaf Syrup, whereas I went more floral with the addition of rose oil.  It is a surprisingly easy recipe, one that took less than 20 minutes cooking time to finish.  I am thinking of making this again with vanilla bean and a touch of citrus, but either way I will definitely be garnishing this dessert again with pistachios and shaved dried coconut flakes.  It’s no wonder that Muhallabieh has become a ubiquitous Middle Eastern dessert; it is a wonderfully refreshing summer treat.


makes 3 servings


  • 6 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 1/2 tbsp superfine/ caster sugar
  • 3-5 drops of rose oil
  • a handful of chopped pistachios
  • a handful of shaved toasted coconut flakes
  • a sprinkling of edible rose petals (optional)


  1. Whisk cornstarch with 6 1/2 tbsp of milk to make a paste
  2. Pour remaining milk into a medium-sized pot, with milk and sugar
  3. Set over medium-high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved; Whisk in cornstarch mixture and allow to thicken until it resembles custard
  4. Take off from heat and whisk in drops of rose oil
  5. Pour mixture into small bowls and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent skin from forming; Allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving
  6. Prior to serving, top with pistachios, coconut flakes and if desired rose petals; Serve cold and enjoy!


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