Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding


Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding is a 4 ingredient Middle Eastern Milk Pudding is a popular Middle Eastern dessert that is made with just four simple ingredients: milk, sugar, cornstarch, and rose water. It is a smooth and creamy pudding that is often served chilled and topped with nuts, fruit, or a drizzle of honey. yellow

Also known as Muhallebi in Turkey, this milk pudding is not one that can be pinned down to only one country in the middle east. Most middle eastern countries make this, and it is one of the quickest and most delicious dessert recipes. I have tried a few recipes over time but in the end, I finally worked out a recipe that to me is just perfect.

Not Just A Pretty Face!

A bowl of creamy Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding with a sprinkle of green pistachios and pink rose petals on top.
Creamy and delicious

History of Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding

The name Muhallebi comes from the Arabic word “hallab,” which means milk. The dish was a popular dessert in the Ottoman Empire, where it was often served to guests in elaborate feasts. Muhallebi also became a staple dish in Arab and Turkish homes, with different variations depending on the region.

In its simplest form, Muhallebi is made with milk, sugar, and cornstarch, which are cooked together until thickened. The pudding is then flavored with rose water or orange blossom water, and sometimes garnished with chopped nuts or shredded coconut. Other variations include adding saffron, pistachios, or cardamom to the pudding for added flavor.

Muhallebi has also been adapted in other parts of the world, such as India and Iran, where it is known as phirni, and in Greece, where it is called moustalevria. In modern times, Muhallebi has become a popular dessert in many countries, with different variations and adaptations depending on local ingredients and traditions.

Today, Muhallebi is still enjoyed throughout the Middle East and North Africa, often served during special occasions and holidays. Its popularity has also spread to other parts of the world, where it is now a common dessert in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants.

Ultimate Flavours of Muhalabia

This milk pudding is so creamy and decadent, it’s so versatile, which means you can add any flavouring you fancy. My favourite is cardamom and rose water but orange blossom or vanilla extract will also go just fine if you don’t like rose water and cardamom. This dessert can also be made completely plain with just milk and cream or just milk. Though I do think that the cream just completes the recipe and it becomes so creamy and divine.

Its a top pick for me in warmer weather as Mahalabia has to be cooled in the fridge for a few hours and then garnished with any nuts, seeds, fruit puree and my absolute favourite is date syrup. It so refreshing, it’s delicious and creamy so it fulfils that dessert craving but it’s also light, cooling and refreshing.

You really must give it a try!

Several small serving dishes filled with chilled and creamy Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding.
Mahalabia is Simple but Decadent!

The variety of Middle Eastern Desserts

Middle Eastern desserts are known for their unique and delicious flavors, textures, and aromas. They often feature ingredients like honey, nuts, rose water, and spices such as cinnamon and cardamom. Baklava, a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweet syrup, is a popular Middle Eastern dessert that is loved around the world.

Another favorite is Kunafa, a sweet cheese pastry that is topped with syrup and pistachios. Halva, a dense and sweet confection made of sesame seeds, is also a popular dessert in the region. Mahalabia, a creamy milk pudding flavored with rose water, is a simple yet delicious dessert that is perfect for those who prefer a lighter sweet treat. Middle Eastern desserts are not only delicious, but they also represent the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the region.

Everything you need to make Mahalabia


  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Rose water OR Orange Blossom

Here’s how to make Mahalabia:

  1. In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and comes to a boil.
  3. Once the pudding has thickened, remove it from the heat and stir in the rose water.
  4. Pour the pudding into individual serving dishes and let it cool to room temperature.
  5. Once the pudding has cooled, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until it is chilled and set.
  6. Before serving, top the pudding with chopped nuts, fruit, or a drizzle of honey.

Enjoy your delicious and easy Mahalabia pudding!

Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding in a ice cream dish with a spoon, garnished with pistachios and rose petals

Frequently Asked Questions

Other Recipes to Try:

Muhallebi (Muhalabia) Middle Eastern Milk Pudding

Prep Time 15 mins Rest Time 2 hrs Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins



  1. In a medium pot hand whisk corn flour, milk, cream and sugar until fully combined. Place the pot on high heat and whisk repeatedly to ensure the milk doesn't burn at the bottom of the pot.
  2. Continue whisking until the consistency starts to change and it turns into pudding consistncy, this should take around 10 minutes. Turn the heat down and add the cardamom and rose water.
  3. Once fully combined and there's a pudding like consistency, turn off the heat. Transfer into bowls and once cooled down, place in fridge for 2-3 hours to chill.
  4. Garnish with anything you like to serve.

Did you make this recipe?

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Content Creator

I'm Nelly, the recipes I share here are inspired by the people, cultures and places beloved to me. Peanutswirls represents my love for food, cooking and hosting. I hope to share with you a taste of the Middle East influnced by my upbringing in the West.

I can't wait to see what we cook together.

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