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Course Dessert
Place of origin Persia[1]
Region or state Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iraq
Serving temperature Cold
Main ingredients Rice flour, milk or almond milk, sugar
Cookbook: Muhallebi  Media: Muhallebi

Muhallebi also Muhallabia, Malabi, Mahallebi or Mahallepi (in Turkish, meaning custard, Greek: Μαχαλλεπί (Mahallepi)) is a creamy pudding, similar to blancmange. It is milk-based, thickened with rice flour or cornstarch and then topped with sweet syrup.[2]


Mahalabia garnished with chopped nuts

Legend has it that muhallebi was introduced into Arab cuisine in the late seventh century by a Persian cook who served it to an Arab general by the name of al-Muhallab bin Abi Sufra. He liked it so much, he named it after himself.[3]


Muhallebi comes in many variations. In Ottoman times, muhallebi was made with shredded chicken meat; this version is today called tavukgöğsü, from tavuk göğsü, meaning "chicken breast" in Turkish.[4] Sometimes muhallebi is topped with chopped pistachios or walnuts, and one version use water in place of milk (su muhallebisi). In Israel, the pudding, known as malabi, is sometimes made from almond milk so that it can be eaten after a meat meal in keeping with the laws of kashrut. This version is similar to the Turkish keşkül.

Flavorings such as vanilla, orange water and rosewater are also added.[5]

Culinary traditions[edit]

In some Sephardi homes, malabi is served to break the fast on Yom Kippur. It is also eaten at Turkish Jewish weddings to symbolize the sweet life that lies ahead. Sephardim serve it on the festival of Shavuot when it is customary to eat dairy food, but according to food historian Gil Marks, the real reason is that the holiday is known in this community as the "feast of roses," and malabi is traditionally topped with rosewater.[6]

Moroccan-style mahalabiya with orange flavoring
Turkish-style muhallebi with nuts and cinnamon


External links[edit]