Long gone seems to be the era when one talked about Syria for its culture, its folklore or its food. Partly because of that, and partly because I never really wondered about it before, my own knowledge of Syrian food actually is close to none, and although what I know of Middle-Eastern food encompasses the region more widely, but it only can be summed-up as follows: mezze, schwarma, kebabs, falafels, hummus, and honey-glazed deep-fried cakes. Not really the “light” kind of diet, I must say. So for this last world food challenge of the year, I was seeking for something healthier to try out and to write about, then I found out about this specialty dessert from Syria that is called Mouhalabieh.
I think the colors of this dessert really contrast with the darkness of the images we can see on TV about Syria. Where it seems to only be about bombs, misery and destruction of the cultural heritage, there actually might be something else for the rest of the world to see of this country. A little gem of a recipe for foodies to try out, for instance.
Ingredients are fairly simple to come by, and Mouhalabieh is as quick as easy to make at home. It only needs several ingredients such as milk, sugar, starch, orange blossom water, rose water (optional), and pistachios. If it looks splendid like that, it surely has to do with the purity of its composition, the choice of its colours, and the homogeneity of its white flan-like cream base.
The consistency of Mouhalabieh is kinda funny though. One could say it is between a flan and a sticky Asian dessert. Personally speaking, it reminded me of a dessert from Wallis and Futuna islands that I have tried a few months ago (you can read about it on my blog too, it is called Po’e).
I particularly liked the use of pistachios to top the cream/flan. Not only they give a nice crunchiness to the soft dessert, but they also add on a nice aroma that finishes off the Mouhalabieh pretty well. Even if here rose petals are for decoration purpose only, the presence of rose water is optional in the recipe for us Westerners, nevertheless it is commonly used in the Middle-East. As far as I am concerned, the orange blossom water is fine enough on its own. I must say I really enjoyed to eat Mouhalabieh for the first time today. First, but surely not last! Happy New Year everyone!!
- 50 cl of whole or semi-skimmed milk
- 40 grams of rice (or tapioca or corn) starch
- 70 grams of sugar
- 1 to 2 tbsp of orange blossom water
- unsalted pistachios
- a few dried rose petals (for decoration purpose only)
- Do not heat it yet but directly use a saucepan to start your preparation. Pour a small amount of milk in it, and mix with the starch until there’s no solids left.
- Add the rest of the milk along with sugar and only 1 tbsp of the orange blossom water.
- Some orange blossom waters are bitter than others, so taste the mixture before adding the last tbsp.
- Start heating the preparation on low, while constantly whipping it until it thickens up and turns creamy. This should take around 5 to 7 minutes.
- Pour the cream into small glass jars, and let cool down in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- When time comes to serve, chop unsalted pistachios and display over the cream with a few rose petals for decoration.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2017 All Rights Reserved.