Homestyle malabi, Middle Eastern milk pudding

by Sarah on November 9, 2011

malabi, milk pudding

Road side malabi is supposed to be served with brilliant red syrup. It’s as natural as candy corn and the way things have always been. Add a sprinkle of shredded coconut and a few ground peanuts and this rose scented milk pudding is the epitome of street food gourmet.

Malabi stands spring up at strategic locations during weekends, usually along the way to the beach or heavily traveled trailheads. A haphazard sign and a crooked umbrella is all the overhead that is needed. It might be the simplest version of milk pudding, but straight out of the vendor’s cooler, it is the perfect remedy for a hot summer’s day.

At home, it’s a different story.  Picnic and beach fare loss their charm. Malabi is upgraded to a more presentable level, one that isn’t served in flimsy plastic cups or decorated with a swirl of artificial color. This recipe uses a mixture of cream and milk, with a topping made of fresh plums. Strawberries and cherries can also be used instead of summer fruit, adding a seasonal twist to this creamy dessert.

Homestyle Milk Pudding

Milk pudding is known as malabi in Israel. In other Arab countries it is called muhallabia and is traditionally made with ground rice instead of corn starch.

2 cups milk

3/4 cup heavy cream (38% fat)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup corn starch

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter


1 tablespoon butter

2-3 ripe plums, stone removed and cut into small squares

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon rosewater

In a small pot combine all the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, milk and cream. Cook on low while constantly stirring so lumps do not form. The mixture will combine and thicken. Continue to cook until it is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and add the butter, mixing well. Pour into small bowls, cover with plastic wrap and chill.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small saucepan. When it is melted, add the plums, about three tablespoons of water and sugar. Cook on low heat until the fruit soften and the liquid begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add the rosewater. When the fruit mixture cools, spoon it on to the chilled malabi and serve.

For variation, add toasted pistachios or almonds.

More recipes and information about malabi:

Middle Eastern Puddings

Milk pudding with rice flour by Israeli Kitchen

Rice and apricot pudding by Taste of Beirut (muhallabiya amardeen)

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