Rosewater and walnut jelly (Khabeessa)

January 19, 2010  •  Category:


Khabeessa was first brought to my attention by Leila, who left a comment asking if I knew about it; well, I did not. Just like moufattaka, it is a dessert that is specific to the Sunni communities in Beirut. Beirut, Ras Beirut to be exact (the part of the city that is on the west side, facing the mediterranean) was originally a town inhabited by a majority of sunnis and greek- orthodox families, with a sprinkling of greek- catholics, sephardic jews, druze and other confessions. Each community coexisted and had its own traditions. I never tasted khabeessa growing up, so I was eager to try it!

I got the recipe and instructions for it from Hajj Makari and Hashem, who also make it to order. Basta  (01) 643 423 and from the book Al-helwayate al-arabiya wal-gharbiya, Sima Shbaro.

It is  a jelly, thickened with wheat starch, flavored with rosewater  and mastic and  studded  with walnuts.

IF YOU LIKE LOUKOUM, YOU WILL LOVE IT!  Its  sweetness is offset by the crunch of the walnuts. It has an opalescent appearance and a diaphanous texture.

INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield 6 servings

  • 3/4 cup of wheat starch
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/4  teaspoon of ground mastic (optional) or miski (grind the pebbles with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
  • 250 g of walnuts, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • 1 Tablespoon of rose water


  1. Place the walnuts in a bowl and cover with water. Let them sit in the water for at least 30 minutes, then rub the skins off with your fingertips. Remove and pat dry on paper towels.
  2. Place the water and sugar and starch  in a heavy-bottomed pan  and stir continuously until the mixture boils.
  3. Cook and stir for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.
  4. Add the mastic previously ground with a pinch of sugar. Keep stirring for a few more  minutes.
  5. Add the chopped walnuts and the rose water and keep stirring until thickened even more.
  6. Pour into shallow serving bowls or a large serving dish if you wish to  cut in small squares. Cool in the refrigerator. When the khabeessa is cold it will be easy to cut in squares.


19 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rachana Kothari says:

    Interesting recipe! Looks great and the second click is simply wow!!!

  2. Rosa says:

    Interesting! That jelly sure sounds delicious!



  3. fimère says:

    une recette très originale qui mérite d’être essayée, vraiment elle à l’air succulente
    bonne soirée

  4. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    Had to hold myself from buying a bx of lokum during my lunch break today ….I knew I’d have it ALL before the day was over. Looks lovely

  5. oum mouncifrayan says:

    un dessert succulent!! grand bravo pour l’idée de la présentation en verrines!!! bisous et bonne nuit

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I’d love to make this one day! I love lokoum so I know that I’d love this. Thanks so much! 😀

  7. Dinners & Dreams says:

    Hi, Joumana! I love the taste of gum mastic in everything! This jelly is making me drool!

    I am giving away my cookbook. Let me know if you’d like to participate..



  8. spice says:

    Quite interesting…totally new to me…

  9. Ivy says:

    I know I would love this as all the ingredients are wonderful but I will have to look up what wheat starch is. I’ve never heard of this before or maybe we use another name for it.

  10. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    This jelly brings flavors and magic of Middle East! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. delices eyes says:

    Une recette très originale que j’aimerais goûter.
    Bonne journée

  12. Joanne says:

    This sounds incredibly interesting! I’ve never had such a dish before but I would certainly be willing to try it.

  13. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    Ivy, wheat starch in Greek is called amylon or niseste.

  14. Jeanne @ Cooksister! says:

    Although I’m not a huge jelly fan, I am fascinated by the flavours in this. And such lovely muted colours in your pics!

  15. Marysol says:

    J, I had never seen or heard of this lovely dessert before, but it’s never too late to fall in love, I guess.

  16. rajani@eatwritethink says:

    hi there… my first time here, you have a lovely blog i am glad i found you. i love middle eastern food, though i am a vegetarian! so i usually improvise – i know thats not authentic but what can a vegetarian do? this recipe looks great! a couple of questions: what is mastik? and this is the first time i am hearing of wheat starch? is this something commonly available in middle eastern shop, will it be available in dubai? is there a substitute>? (cornstarch?)

    • Joumana says:

      Hi Rajani
      I am sure you can find it in Dubai; it is called nasha in Arabic; in Asian stores they also sell a similar starch “kuzu root”. If you absolutely can’t find it, which I doubt, by all means try it with cornstarch! (by the way, the box I bought is made in Turkey, in Lebanon the starch is sold in bags like little white pellets)
      As for mastik, it is a flavoring that we use a lot in the middle-east, it comes from Greece nowadays, it is extracted from a resin of a certain bush; some people don’t like it (usually Westerners who are not used to it) because the flavor is very distinct. In Lebanon and other middle-eastern countries it is used to flavor milk ice-cream and lots of sweets. For this recipe it is not absolutely necessary, it just makes it more authentic! Mastic or miskeh as it is called in Arabic is offered at all middle-eastern shops, in a small pill box usually, it looks like little pebbles and when you pound a few pebbles with a bit of sugar it releases the fragrance. It should be ground before it is added to any liquid.

  17. rajani@eatwritethink says:

    thanks for information joumana… @wheatstarch… not sago pearls right??

  18. cmiranda says:

    Hi Joumana,
    Thanks for sharing this nice recipe.I have some mastic here and couldnt figure out what to do with it till now.

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