Desserts · Libyan · North African

Ramadan Nights – Mhalabeeya

Ramadan in the summer calls for a refreshing dessert that is both light and cool. Here in Germany, our fasting days are 19 hours long. From 3am to 9:50pm. Honestly, I have no interest in food on these long summer days. All I really want is a tall glass of ice-cold water or iced tea. But here is where my Libyan DNA kicks in, I also think about mhalabeeya on these long, hot days and how it tastes like refreshing coolness. Most Middle Eastern households have mhalabeeya every night of Ramadan. Even though I love mhalabeeya and would happily eat it year-round, I only make it in Ramadan. In fact, I don’t know anyone who makes it outside of Ramadan.

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Mhalabeeya is a simple dessert that is made with milk, corn starch, sugar, orange blossom water and patience. That’s it. It is so easy to make. During Ramadan, I make mhalabeeya in the morning before I do any of my household chores or errands. After I put it in the refrigerator, I go about my day knowing I have a few bites of cool, refreshing deliciousness awaiting me. In the evening, I put together my iftar (aka dinner in Ramadan), break my fast, offer my prayers and make some tea. As the tea is steeping, I decide what my mhalabeeya topping will be! Sometimes, it is just a sprinkle of cinnamon. Other times, it is cinnamon with finely chopped pecans or a handful of raisins. Occasionally, it is with chopped/ground pistachio, which is actually the traditional topping. And on rare occasions, I leave my mhalabeeya unadorned and eat it plain. Pretty wild.

Ingredients (serves 4):
3 cups milk
4 tablespoons sugar
3 heaping tablespoons corn starch
1 cap of orange blossom water

Pour 2 1/2 cups of milk into a small pot on the stove over medium heat. Once the milk is warm, stir in the sugar and orange blossom water.

To the remaining 1/2 cup of cold milk, add the corn starch and mix with a small whisk or a spoon until the corn starch is dissolved. Slowly pour this into the warm milk on the stove while mixing continuously with a wooden spoon.

Reduce the heat to low and stir the mixture every 15-20 seconds as it thickens. You will know the mixture is ready when it coats and sticks to your wooden spoon.

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Pour the mixture into individual ramekins or small, serving dishes. I use some 10oz serving bowls with lids that I picked up at a Turkish grocery store in Dresden last year.

Place the mhalabeeya uncovered into the refrigerator and allow them to cool for at least 4-6 hours. The mhalabeeya will thicken and set as they cool. I usually cover them with lids or plastic wrap about 1-2 hours after I’ve placed them in the refrigerator. They can stay in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Any longer and I’ve noticed that the texture changes. Sprinkle with your topping of choice before serving. Today, I’ve sprinkled them with cinnamon and chopped pecans. I think I’ll top them with ground pistachio tomorrow! 🙂

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Mhalabeeya

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A refreshing, summer dessert and a traditional, Middle Eastern Ramadan treat.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 heaping tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cap orange blossom water
  • toppings of your choice: cinnamon, chopped pecans, raisins, ground pistachio, etc

Directions

  1. Pour 2 1/2 cups of milk into a small pot on the stove over medium heat. Once the milk is warm, stir in the sugar and orange blossom water.
  2. To the remaining 1/2 cup of cold milk, add the corn starch and mix with a small whisk or a spoon until the corn starch is dissolved. Slowly pour this into the warm milk on the stove while mixing continuously with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place the mhalabeeya uncovered into the refrigerator and allow them to cool for at least 4-6 hours. The mhalabeeya will thicken and set as they cool. You may cover them with lids or plastic wrap about 1-2 hours after placing them in the refrigerator. They can stay in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Any longer and  the texture changes. Sprinkle with your topping of choice before serving.

 

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4 thoughts on “Ramadan Nights – Mhalabeeya

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