Muhallebi Two Ways

Muhallebi (sometimes called malabi or muhallabia) is a Middle Eastern milk pudding. Traditionally made with rice flour, most modern muhallebi recipes feature cornstarch to give the pudding its thickness. It is lightly sweetened, and beautifully delicate and fragrant as its main flavour comes just from the milk and the floral water you choose.

The base recipe for muhallebi typically features rose water and a rose syrup atop the creamy pudding, but you can use any syrup you’d like here. I’ve used homemade tangerine and orange blossom water and strawberry rose water syrups – but I’ve also made these with other fruits to reflect seasonal produce or holidays – like muhallebi topped with pomegranate syrup and seeds for Rosh Hashanah.


Middle Eastern Milk Pudding
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Resting Time2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time2 hours 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: dairy, dessert, malabi, milk, muhallabia, muhallebi, pudding
Servings: 8 servings
Author: The Elegant Economist


  • 2 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp rose water or orange blossom water
  • syrup (rose water is traditional)
  • pistachios, shredded coconut, dried rose petals for garnish (optional)


  • In a medium saucepan, combine 1 3/4 cups of the milk, the cream, and the sugar, combine with a whisk and then heat on medium-high.
  • In a separate bowl, combine cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, using a small whisk to combine (or your fingers). Ensure there are no clumps in the mixture or your muhallebi will be lumpy.
  • Once your milk and cream mixture comes to a boil, check your cornstarch mixture is smooth and add to the saucepan. Turn down the heat to low, and whisk until the mixture becomes the texture of custard (1-2 minutes maximum).
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in your rose or orange blossom water until just combined.
  • Pour the muhallebi into small ramekins or cups, or a bowl for family-style presentation. Allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, before placing in the refrigerator for two hours.
  • Once the muhallebi has cooled, top with the syrup of your choice and top with chopped pistachios, shredded coconut, dried rose petals, or your other favourite toppings.

Floral Fruit Syrup

This easy recipe can be used to top muhallebi or other desserts, mixed into teas or other beverages, or in cocktails.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Keyword: fruit syrup, simple syrup, syrup
Author: The Elegant Economist


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp fruit jam or preserves of your choice
  • 2 tsp floral water, such as rosewater or orange blossom water These can typically be found at your local Middle Eastern or Indian market, or online if you don't live near to one.


  • Combine water, sugar, and jam in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once all crystals of sugar are dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in your floral water.
  • Using a mesh strainer or cheesecloth, strain any bits or seeds from the jam out so that you're left with just the syrup.
  • Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes, then place in the refrigerator. It will keep for three months in the fridge.


This syrup is very versatile and can be used on desserts and in drinks.
Some combination ideas include: strawberries or raspberries with rosewater, apricot or orange with orange blossom water. You can also omit the floral water if you prefer and use only the fruit preserves. 
May 9, 2019



  1. Reply

    Nancy Levy

    March 31, 2022

    Can I substitute rice flour for the cornstarch for passover?

    • Reply


      April 5, 2022

      Yes, of course! The recipe shown above uses only cornstarch.


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