This is a dessert for lovers of rose-water.

Plain, it is a lovely, cheap, everyday dessert for kids or, if dressed up with crystallised rose petals and/or crushed nuts, stands its own as a perfect finale to a Middle Eastern dinner party.

When I first started this blog, my friend, Colette, suggested I do a post on my rice pudding as she considered it my signature dish, but I somehow I never got around to it.

My love affair with this dessert started nearly 30 years ago.  Maus, another friend and I had dined in a Middle Eastern restaurant – I presume Lebanese but I can’t remember – and the proprietor asked if we wanted dessert.  By this time, Maus and I were full but our friend succumbed and the proprietor brought out a little dish of Muhallabia.  Suddenly, I wasn’t full anymore.  I started digging in to my friend’s dessert.  I loved it.

I found a recipe for it in Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Food and started making it.  I was on a mission to replicate the flavour and texture of that lovely dessert I’d sampled in the restaurant.  I made it quite a few times, adjusting the cornflour and rosewater to get the consistency and taste just as I remembered it.

This dish is usually served in a glass bowl and topped with chopped almonds or pistachios.  But I decided to be fancy and mould it.  If you want to try moulding it, you will need to oil your moulds in a neutral oil.  You may also need to add additional rice flour and/or cornflour so that it sets a little firmer and holds its shape.  Normally, these quantities will produce a dessert firm enough to mould but this time, I used a different rice flour and it was a bit loose.


  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • 60g rice flour
  • 1 litre of milk
  • 90g sugar
  • 3 tbs rosewater*
  • Chopped almonds, pistachio or crystallised rose petals to decorate.

*These are 15 mil tablespoons.


Traditionally, this dessert would have been made in a pot over the stove but I find it much easier to make it in the microwave.

  1. Mix the cornflower, rice flour and sugar in a microwave-proof bowl.
  2. Add enough milk to make a smooth paste.
  3. Slowly add the rest of the milk (a little at a time), stirring after each addition to ensure there are no lumps.  If you do end up with some lumps, give it a whizz or two with a stick blender.
  4. Once everything is combined, microwave on high for two minutes.
  5. Stir, and then microwave on high for a minute.  Stir again.  Continue microwaving and stirring until mixture comes to the boil and thickens.
  6. Microwave for an additional minute.
  7. Add the rosewater and stir.
  8. Pour into one large glass bowl or individual glass bowls.
  9. Place in refrigerator to cool.
  10. Serve cool, decorated with crystallised rose petals*  and/or almonds or pistachios.

* To crystallise rose petals, choose an old-fashioned perfumed pink rose. Pull the rose apart.  Using tweezers to hold the petals, dip individual petals in lightly beaten egg white and then into caster sugar.  Set aside to dry.


31 thoughts on “Muhallabia

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  4. As you’ve said your 2 favourite desserts are crème brulee and Muhallabia, and it is reminiscent of blancmange, I’ll love it. I also like rosewater. A great way to use up milk which I often have leftovers of from cooking other things 🙂

  5. ahh Muhallabia, the ultimate frugal dessert. I’ll pass on the rosewater but would happily eat it with orange blossom 🙂
    BTW, are you on facebook? This post is dedicated to you. Can you guess what it is? LOL

    • Lisa, I am still laughing, I can’t stop 🙂 They look, um … different, different but interesting, but not how I remember them in Lebanon 🙂 BTW I’m not on facebook. I knew you wouldn’t like the rosewater. You must be the only person in the world you doesn’t like rosewater.

      • LOL thought you’d get a laugh! So hubby’s aunty gave me her recipe but she said it would feed a small army. when I reduced the quantity of each ingredient, I don’t think I calculated it properly. Anyway, just know I’m working on it and you’ll get your barazek recipe, promise 😉

  6. Sounds lovely – rather like panna cotta? I wonder if it would also work with orange flower water?
    I’ve just bought rice flour for my Christmas shortbread so that is handy.

    • Hi Anne, Yes the texture is a little like panna cotta (which I also love) and yes, rose water and orange blossom water are totally interchangeable. Claudia gives orange blossom water as an alternative to rose water (same quantities) and even suggests a mixture of the two. I don’t like orange blossom water as it reminds me of 4711 but I know others do.

      • Made this yesterday – halved the recipe as there is only me and it made 3 nice little bowls.Was going to use orange flower water as that was what I had, but I found red rose water in my local supermarket and it made such a pretty pink pudding! Loved it.

        • Hi Ann, I am glad you liked it. I have never seen red rose water before. I always buy Cortas brand. What supermarket was it that you found the red rose water? I might try it.

          • I found it in IGA Duncraig – Benjamin brand. They had white as well. I usually go to Weigh and Pay in Woodvale for things like that (they have a great selection of goodies) but on this occasion I found what I wanted on my doorstep!

            • Thanks Ann. I will look out for it. Have you ever been to Kakulas Sister in Nollamara? I think you will love it. It is so much better than the Fremantle and Northbridge versions.

              • I know of Kakulas Sisters but have never been there – could easily pop in on my way back from golf (Mt Lawley) but somehow just seem to head for the freeway and home once I am in the car.

  7. Glenda, you are my kinda cook! I love exotic desserts and this is one I would like to try! Thank you for sharing xo

  8. That is a beautiful creation, especially love the rose petals. I don’t think I’ve ever tried anything with rose water before but I’m going to have to check that out. Is it found in specialty stores or a regular supermarket?

    • Hi Diane. I love rose water – imagine a sweet dessert smelling and tasting of roses. In Australia it is sold in Middle Eastern and even Asian shops. It is very easy to find. The most common brand is Cortas which is Lebanese. If you are using another brand you may want to start with less and taste it as the strength may be different.

  9. Oh, that’s very interesting. I was expecting to see whole rice in it – rice flour huh. I have a flour mill, and although I’ve never done it, it says it will make rice flour out of granular rice. (I’ve always been annoyed at the cost of rice flour in the Asian groceries – should be dirt cheap, but it’s not!

    I love rice pudding, but it’s always been one of those desserts that does not turn out well when made with artificial sugars – I just can’t get it to taste right. But I’m trying two new ones (Erythritol and Xylosweet) – they are of course as expensive as hell, but my taste buds are attuned to very low sweet taste, so I use much less than most folks. So, when they arrive, I’ll give your dessert a try with one of them, and let you know how it turns out.

    • Do doc, it is universally loved. I used to make it for Maus’ dad when he was ill. It reminded him of blancmange of which he had fond memories.

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