Vegan Middle Eastern Style Muhallebi (Milk pudding with rose syrup)
This is my go-to dessert for when I’m craving something sweet, light and refreshing! This gluten-free Muhallebi is made with only a handful of ingredients and it’s incredibly easy to make!
WHAT IS MUHALLEBI?
Muhallebi, also known as Muhallepi, Malabi or Mahalabia is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert typically made with milk, sugar and thickened with cornstrach or rice flour. It’s an incredibly versatile pudding so you can serve it with any syrup or topping if your choice. If you’re looking for a light and refreshing dessert, then you’ll definitely enjoy this muhallebi recipe!
WHAT PLANT-BASED MILK SHOULD I USE?
I used a creamy pea milk for this recipe, but you can use any milk of your choice, though I would suggest using a mild and creamy plant-based milk such as cashew or soya milk.
This milk pudding is made in many different cuisines and has so many variations! You can flavour it with anything you desire, but the Middle Eastern version is usually flavoured with rose water, cardamom or orange blossom water. I've used pistachios, pomegranate seeds and dried rose petals as garnish, but you can top with other nuts such as almonds or walnuts or different berries and fruits. Muhallebi is a very popular dessert during the month of Ramadan because it's light and refreshing without being too sweet or overpowering.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE MUHALLEBI
Milk is the star ingredient in this recipe, so I would suggest using a creamy plant-based milk such as pea, soya or cashew milk. If you’d like the consistency of the Muhallebi to be a little thicker and creamier, you could also use coconut cream or any other plant-based cream.
Rice flour was used for the traditional recipe, but I find the rice flour tends to give the Muhallebi a slightly grainy texture, so I prefer to use corn-starch for thickening the pudding. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, make sure that the corn-starch you use has a gluten-free label as some corn-starch products are made in the same factory as nuts so there can be a risk of cross contamination.
I’ve used granulated sugar for this recipe, but if you’d like to create a sugar-free version you can substitute the sugar for a sweetener such as erythritol. Sweeteners tend to have a different level of sweetness when compared to sugar, and I find that erythritol isn’t as sweet, so you may need to add a little more of it according to your personal taste.
You can flavour it with anything you desire, but the Middle Eastern version is usually flavoured with rose water, cardamom or orange blossom water. The rose water gives the Muhallebi a lovely aroma and adds refreshing taste, but if you’re not a fan of rose water then you can omit this ingredient and it’ll still taste great. Alternatively, you can add other flavours such as vanilla extract or a pinch of cinnamon.
TOPPING AND GARNISH:
I’ve made a rose syrup to serve with this Muhallebi. Homemade rose syrup is quick and easy to make, but if you’d like to skip this step, you can use shop-bought rose syrup instead. As I mentioned before, not everyone is a fan of rose flavoured desserts, so you can use different syrups such as lemon syrup or elderflower syrup. I've used pistachios, pomegranate seeds and dried roses as garnishes, but you can top with other nuts such as almonds or walnuts or even berries and fruits.
INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED
For the Muhallebi:
750ml plant-based milk (3 cups)
75g cornstarch (10 tbsp)
100g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 tsp rose water
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
For the Rose Syrup:
100g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp rose water
4 tbsp rose petal jam
1 tbsp pomegranate juice (The pomegranate juice is used to add colour, but can be substituted with 1 tsp vegan red food colouring)
HOW TO MAKE THE MUHALLEBI
Add about 50ml of the milk to the corn-starch and stir until a smooth paste has formed. It’s important not to skip this step because if you add the corn-starch directly to the hot milk, lumps will form in the mixture. Add the remaining milk and sugar to a deep, non-stick pan and let it gently simmer on a low heat, for about 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the corn-starch paste to the pan and cook on a medium heat, for about 7 minutes, while whisking continuously until the Muhallebi starts to thicken to a consistency similar to custard. It’s important to whisk continuously at this point as the base will burn and lumps will form if you stop whisking.
Add the rosewater and cardamom powder to the Muhallebi and stir until well combined. Take the pan off the heat and spoon the mixture into decorative dessert glasses or ramekins. Place the Muhallebi in the fridge for around 2 hours or until they’ve completely set.
To make to rose syrup, add 100g caster, 2 tbsp water, 4 tbsp rose petal jam and 1 tbsp pomegranate juice to a small pot and let it simmer at a high heat, for around 2-3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool down for a few minutes before pouring on top of each Muhallebi.
Sprinkle crushed pistachios and pomegranate seeds on top of each Muhallebi and serve!
Muhallebi is best served on the day it’s made, but if you’re not serving it straight away, then store them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
If you prefer not to use pomegranate seeds or pistachios as garnish, you could use flaked almonds or crushed hazelnuts instead. These are just a few examples, but you can add any garnish of your choice.
If you’re not a fan of rose water, then you can omit this ingredient and the Muhallebi will still taste great. Alternatively, you can add other flavours such as vanilla extract or orange blossom water.