Rice Pudding - Syrian Mahalabia for Shabbat. Photography: Dan Peretz | Styling: Amit Farber
Rice Pudding - Syrian Mahalabia for Shabbat. Photography: Dan Peretz | Styling: Amit Farber
Recipe

Mahalabia

Warm, sweet rice pudding topped with a glowing mound of dried fruit and nuts. In the summer you can replace it with chilled yogurt.

Rice pudding is very common in the Middle East. Among the Jews, it was used as a multi-purpose dessert for dairy meals, and the traditional sweet of Shavuot and Purim.

In Turkey and the Balkans it was called Sutlac. In Syria and Egypt, as in the rest of the Arab world, he was called Mahalabia (some will say it from the heart). Each community has its own traditional seasoning and way of serving.

Please note: the rice continues to thicken after cooking, so make sure it is swimming in plenty of sauce. Enjoy when the rice is still hot from cooking.

In the summer you can replace it with chilled yogurt.

Ingredients for Rice Pudding

For the dried fruit:

  • 2.11 oz (60 grams) fruit leather
  • 10.5 oz (300 grams) or 20 each dried apricots
  • 1 cup (100 grams) pistachio nuts unshelled, natural
  • 1 cup (100 grams) almonds natural, whole
  • 1 cup (200 grams) Sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1 ribbon grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons rosewater

For the rice:

  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (250 ml) cooking cream 15%
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2/3 cups round rice soaked in water for an hour and drained
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater

Instructions

Prepare the dried fruit:

  • 1. Chop the fruit leather into thin strips 4" (10 cm) long (it's easier to chop when the leather is rolled), transfer to a bowl and add the apricots, pistachios and almonds.

  • 2. In a small pot, bring the sugar, water, and ribbon of lemon peel to a boil. Cook for a minute and remove from heat. Add the rosewater and mix.

  • 3. Pour the hot mixture over the dried fruit and nuts and mix. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight to obtain the texture of thick compote.

Prepare the rice:

  • 4. In a medium saucepan add the milk, cream and water and then the sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add rice and cook on the verge of boiling and without a lid for about 15 minutes. While cooking, stir with a wooden spoon so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Taste: if the rice is still hard, cook a few more minutes; if the rice is too thick, you can add a little boiling water and mix. Add grated lemon peel and rose water, mix and turn off the heat.

Assemble the dish and serve:

  • 5. Place 3 tablespoons of the hot rice pudding in individual serving bowls, pile a heaping tablespoon of the cold dried fruit mixture and serve immediately.

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