Milk pudding (Muhallabiyeh)

June 14, 2013  •  Category:

This pudding used to belong to the category: What your mother or grandmother will make at home. Now it is available in Beirut everywhere, in delis, at juice bars, coffee joints, even in supermarkets under a label. I guess there are less and less mothers and grandmothers at home making muhallabieh.

The rule of thumb for muhallabieh is for each cup of milk use 1 1/2 tablespoon of starch; since cows are scant in Lebanon most people make it with powdered milk. To make a really good muhallabieh, the cream needs to be gossamer, silky, smooth, delicate, in short, exquisite. 


  • 4 cups milk
  • 6 Tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1 Tbsp orange blossom water
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ground pistachios, to garnish

1. In a saucepan, over medium heat pour the milk and sugar (save 3/4 cup milk to dissolve the cornstarch in). Stir to dissolve the sugar; dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk; when the mixture starts to steam pour the cornstarch mixture and stir continuously until the pudding thickens; add the flavoring at the end; pour the pudding into individual cups and cool on the counter; refrigerate. Garnish with ground pistachios if desired.



36 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Orange blossom and pistachios! Love it!!

  2. Rosa says:

    A delightful dessert! That is a speciality I love.



  3. Lisa the Gourmet Wog says:

    Wow this really does take me back to my childhood! Thanks for posting

  4. Gabi says:

    Pure soul food. I could get addicted. Luckily one easily can prepare a single portion;-) just a shame I can’t get unsalted pistachios anywhere in town. Trying to desalt salted ones I can’t recommend.

    • Joumana says:

      @Gabi: I’d recommend finding a wholesale nut purveyor or online source. Also, you can soak the salted pistachios, peel them then roast them for a few minutes. Time-consuming, I know~ 🙂

  5. garlutti says:

    Delicioso ..un plato fantástico …saludos

  6. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    Tu ne pouvais me faire plus plaisir qu’avec cette recette-là !

  7. T.W. Barritt says:

    This sounds lovely – and the orange blossom and rose water must add such a nice, delicate flavor.

  8. Alicia (foodycat) says:

    Silky creamy puddings are just my cup of tea! Does this end up setting quite firmly, or with more of a pouring custard consistency?

    • Joumana says:

      @alicia: no it is more jiggly than firm; if you are a firm pudding fan, like firm enough to unmold, then add more starch, say 2 tablespoons per cup and see if you like it better. this is not meant to be unmolded that’s why it is not too firm.

  9. miriam says:

    should one use whole milk?

  10. JC says:

    This was so easy and delicious. It was better and simpler than any pudding I’ve ever made. I used almond milk, about half the sugar, and added some agave syrup. I had no pistachios so topped it with sliced almonds and fresh strawberries. I’ve already bought some whole milk to try it again. I think I’m going to cut back to about 2/3 of the cornstarch so it is more of a thick liquid rather than a gel. Thank you for the recipe.

  11. Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes says:

    Hi Joumana,

    I’m stopping by to get a closer look at your amazing milk pudding with the pistachio garnish. I’m inspired to make this because 1) I love pudding and 2) I’m wild about pistachios. I also love your blog! Thanks for sharing this beautiful dessert.


  12. miriam says:

    just made this..was fabulous,,,btw used the whole milk and so glad i did..creamy ,silky delicate just as you described.. only used the orange flower water as that is all i had on hand and didnt have the pistachios to top, which i know i must try as i love pistachios…. but are there any other tradtional toppings you can suggest?.. will be making again and again..thank you

    • Joumana says:

      @Miriam: Ground pistachios is such a traditional topping here in Lebanon for so many pastries! Really, the sky’s the limit with muhallabieh, you can make it without sugar and top it with your favorite jam; here the grandmothers used to serve it with dates in syrup or Seville orange peel in syrup../How about grated coconut? that is used a lot for another pudding called meghli, but it would go very well with muhallabieh. You can try making it with half coconut milk too, if you like. Another tradition is to top it with blanched almonds.

  13. Oui, Chef says:

    Love the pistachio garnish here, just like in the fanciest restaurants!

  14. Susan says:

    Beautiful, silky dessert, Joumana! The pistachios are the perfect topping.

  15. weavethousandflavors says:

    This lovely – the texture divine and what a treat for the younglings as well as the youg at heart. The texture, combination of rose water and orange blosson is just marevlous.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  16. Wizzy says:

    This just makes me want to grab my favourite blanket and snuggle all day in front the telly with a bowl of this. Yum!

  17. Paula Mello says:

    Joumana, is it possible to do this recipe without orange and rose water? They’re very expensive here in Brazil. What do you recommend?

    • Joumana says:

      @Paula Mello: Muhalabieh is versatile; in other words, you can use vanilla powder or in liquid; you can use any flavor you like to perfume your sweet foods.

  18. Alicia (foodycat) says:

    Jiggly sounds good! Thanks for the additional info.

  19. Jamie says:

    I love how homey, comfort food recipes made by our grandmothers becomes popular and finds its way to restaurant menus. I always find that so funny. This pudding looks and sounds so lovely, light and rich at the same time. Beautiful flavors!

  20. Ruby Tuesday Coupons says:

    Omg! I am really drolling right now, I am very anxious how delicious is it. I am very excited to try this at home. Thanks for the post. I will share this to my friends also.

  21. perla says:

    just made some mhallabieh , it tastes great ! thank you for this recipie . I guess i will be making mhallabieh over and over again . have a nice day

  22. Hasna says:

    Would this taste the same as “Riz bi Haleeb”, but without the rice? I know Riz bi Haleeb is more firm…is this a consistency of like, say, banana pudding?


    • Joumana says:

      @Hasna: The consistency depends on how much cornstarch (or rice flour) you add to the milk; here it is firm. Some people prefer it less firm, more like a thick cream; the rule of thumb is 1 1/2 tablespoon of starch per cup of liquid for a semi-firm texture. Experiment and go from there to see what you prefer/ it is always easier to use less than more, of course. If the starch is not sufficient you can keep adding, say one tablespoon at a time (diluted in water) until it is thick enough; keep in mind that it firms up as it cools.

    • Reem says:

      Can you add mastek?

  23. Josée says:

    Delightful! I made half a recipe with 1/2 cup of cream and 1 1/2 cup of milk, both local. I served with homemade candied nuts, chopped, and chopped candied orange peel. My Lebanese husband was on cloud nine! Thank you this recipe is a keeper.

  24. Derbehccke says:

    I’ve only ever had this where rice flour was used. I’ve never tried one with cornstarch. Is there a taste difference?


  25. Alan says:

    I do a vegan version using the coconut milk you can put into hot drinks. It’s delicious with the taste of the rosewater.

  26. Tamar says:

    One of my favorites when I’m looking for some quick comfort. Lovely recipe ! Thank you.

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