Make your own creamy white malabi, the Middle Eastern Milk Pudding

Malabi with pistachios via les petites pestes

Rose-flavored sweetness and a light, creamy texture that keeps you dipping your spoon back in – in Israel this pudding is called malabi.

In Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, people call it muhallibieh. The Greeks eat it as well. And it’s only milk pudding, made in ten minutes. Sounds like a dessert for children, but all over the Middle East, you’ll see Malabi offered in restaurants and at dinner parties. In Tel Aviv and Jaffa you will now find shops called malabia, which serves a vegan or cream option for NIS 10 or about $2.50.

Recipes vary a little.  Some call for a combination of milk and cream. A vegan combination I like is half coconut milk, half water. Rice milk works very well too, but not, for some reason, soy milk.

Some people flavor their malabi with rosewater, some with orange flower water. Very old recipes call for mastic, a resin from a shrub belonging to the pistachio family.

One ancient recipe requires flavoring the pudding with two leaves of a bitter orange tree, or the flowers (click to read our almond blossom recipe).

Toppings vary too. You can top Malabi with chopped pine nuts and walnuts, or with chopped pistachios, like in the above photo. Some dust a little cinnamon over the top, or sprinkle shredded coconut and peanuts. A little syrup over everything – it can be silan – the Middle-Eastern date honey used to “sweeten” sweet potatoes –  or a home-made sugar syrup flavored with lemon, maple syrup, or chocolate syrup.


8 servings – can be halved

Malabi, it will be gone before you know it. Image by Karin Kloosterman, 2019 – Jaffa Malabia in the Jaffa Flea Market


4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch, diluted in 1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons rose water or orange flower water

4 oz. chopped nuts

Silan or other syrup


1. Put the milk and the sugar in a pan and bring the mixture to a boil.

2. Always stirring, add the cornstarch and water mixture.

3. Cook over medium heat till the pudding thickens – up to 5 minutes.

4. Add the rose water; stir.

5. Ladle into small bowls. Cool the pudding and then refrigerate it till cold.

5. Garnish the servings with chopped nuts and a swirl of syrup.

Bon appetit!

More Middle-Eastern recipes from Green Prophet:

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2 thoughts on “Make your own creamy white malabi, the Middle Eastern Milk Pudding”

  1. Miriam Kresh says:

    Yes, you can substitute 4-1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup rice flour, and 1/2 cup sugar. Dissolve the rice flour in a little of the milk, add it to the hot milk/sugar mixture, and continue as from step 3 in the recipe.

    The bright red sauce is usually that horrible “petel” syrup. Much tastier and healthier is silan date honey, plain honey, or maple syrup. Chocolate syrup too – not especially healthy, but you can’t argue with chocolate…

  2. I’ve seen a recipe that uses rice flour instead of corn starch which might be a dietary or healthy choice for some people. Either way, this desert is great for summer. I usually see it served with a bright red sauce, no doubt with artificial color.

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