Mahalabia – Levantine Milk Pudding


Dreamy mahalabia, a creamy and aromatic pudding flavored with orange blossom, rose, pistachios, and honey. This was one of my favorite desserts as a child and it always brings back festive memories. Such as many Levantine sweets native to Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, this custard-like pudding is characterized by the combination of dairy and orange and rose extracts. The pistachios are another component of the recipe rather than simply a topping. And the final result is absolutely lush. I find that this is a great dessert to make ahead of a dinner party – and one sure to make an impression.


4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh cream (heavy whipping cream) or more milk
5 tablespoons cornstarch
Small pinch crushed mastic (Arabic gum)
1 tablespoon rose water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
honey, for topping
pistachios, chopped, for topping


Simmer 4 cups of milk and sugar in a large pot over medium-high heat and whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Bring to a simmer while keeping an eye on the heat. Mix together 1/2 cup cream and cornstarch to make a paste. Whisk the paste into the boiling milk mixture and reduce the heat. Stir in the crushed mastic and continue to whisk constantly over a medium-low heat until the pudding is thick and custard like in texture. Remove from the heat and stir in the rose water and orange blossom water.

Serve into small bowls. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours – the pudding will thicken as it chills. Top with pistachios and honey.

Other topping options:

Cinnamon, desiccated coconut, freshly squeezed orange juice, lemon juice, dried fruit, rose petal jam, apricot jam.




3 Comments Add yours

  1. Eha says:

    Variations on a theme . . . . love the recipe, love your so appropriate usage of the word ‘dreamy’ , love the suggestions of all the toppings to make this ‘your own’ . . . . 🙂 !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. larastillo says:

    In love with the descriptions! And wonderful to learn about any cultural tidbits related to a given recipe – thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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