Nectarine caramel Muhallabeya – Greg Malouf


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: Serves 8

Today, I share with you a Michelin-Starred chef Greg Malouf’s recipe, from his book “Suqar” which means sugar in arabic. 

It’s one of my favourites desserts and sweets books, the spirit of this book is about how to make a classic Middle Eastern desserts very modern with a European touch. I already shared with you “saffron – blood orange brûlée”, it was wonderful.

We can say that the Muhallabeya, mahalabia or mhalabeya is the equivalent of “panna cotta” in the Middle East (without gelatine). 

This dessert is intrinsically simple in terms of ingredients and technique. One of the reasons why it’s a very popular homemade dessert, it’s extremely easy to make, and takes only few minutes.

The recipe of the day :

This muhallabeya is creamy, light, silky and  delicious. It’s definitely what a perfect pudding should be like.

The milk is wonderfully flavoured with the citrus, the orange blossom, and the labne. All these flavours go perfectly together, and make this Muhallabeya one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

The basic ingredients to make this dessert are : milk, sugar, rice flour or cornstarch. Some people like to add a little of cream for a richer taste. Here to enrich the pudding mix chef Greg Malouf used a little labne, which adds a welcome tang. Once chilled, the Muhallabeya is served drizzled with rose or orange blossom syrup and some ground nuts like pistachios. In this recipe and like most of his recipes, chef Greg Malouf adds his modern touch, by serving the muhallabeya with an amazing nectarine & orange – caramel. For me that’s the perfect way to take this basic pudding milk to another level and make it an original dessert. 

You may think that this dessert is too sweet, but it’s not, it’s balanced out perfectly. It’s really the perfect way to finish a meal. You can serve it in individual glasses, as you can use a sharing plate. I loved the idea and found it really nice for a mezza dinner or party .

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Nectarine caramel Muhallabeya - Greg Malouf

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes
  • Serves: Serves 8

In this recipe we will use the mastic grains, which come from the resinous gum of the mastic tree. Traditionally used in milk puddings to add a subtle pine flavour, they are available online and from Middle Eastern grocers.

And we will use the labne check “ Tricks & Tips” for more information about it.

Please note that this dessert needs to chill 4-6 hours preferably overnight.

Ingredients :

Muhallabeya :

  • 4 small mastic grains
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 40 g cornstarch
  • 1 L full fat milk
  • Long strip of peel from 1/2 lemon
  • Long strip of peel from 1/2 orange
  • 30 ml orange blossom water
  • 200 g labne
  • Edible flowers to garnish, (optional)

Nectarine - caramel :

  • 4 nectarines skin on ( 500g)
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 80 ml water
  • Juice of 1 orange (100ml)

Method :

  • 1)

    To make the nectarine caramel, first blanch the nectarines in a saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Refresh in cold water and, when cool enough to handle, use a very sharp knife to peel way the skins. Cut them in half, remove the pits and chop the flesh roughly.

    Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, strirring from time to time, until the sugar has dissolved.

    Once the liquid is clear, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer briskly for about 8 minutes to make a deep chestnut caramel.

    Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped nectarines to the caramel, taking care in case it sputters, then return to the heat and bring to a simmer.

    Add the orange juice and bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool a little before transferring to a food processor and whizzing to a purée. If you want a very smooth finish, push the mix through a sieve ( I really advice you to do it). Chill until required.


  • 2)

    Grind the mastic with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in a mortar, the mix with the cornstarch and remaining sugar in a small bowl. Stir in a few tablespoons of milk to make a paste (2 or 3 Tbsp).

    Put the rest of the milk in a large heavy – based saucepan set over a low heat. Whisk in the mastic paste until smooth, then add the citrus peels and bring to the boil, whisking all the time.

    As it comes to the boil, the mixture will thicken. Lower the heat and simmer for 4 -5 minutes to cook out the cornstarch, still whisking continuously to make sure It doesn’t catch and burn ( the cream should have the same consistency as a béchamel sauce). Remove the pan from the heat, then strain int a bowl and cool in a sink of iced water, whisking so that it becomes light and fluffy. Once it has cooled to blood temperature, stir in the orange blossom water, then fold int the labne.

  • 3)

    Spoon the Muhallabeya into 8 pretty serving glasses or like I did a sharing plate. Carefully spoon on a layer of chilled nectarine caramel, then refrigerate until chilled ( better if you keep it overnight In the fridge). Garnish with edible flowers, if you like, or some fruits.


    Enjoy !!

Tricks & Tips :

Labne : from “Suqar” cookbook

This is a wildly popular, delectably creamy strained yoghurt product – like a tangy, soft cheese spread- that’s found all across the Middle East.

It’s made by hanging yoghurt in a bag until the whey drains away. In Middle East countries, you can easily buy it, but its sooo easy to make it at home. For 500g , spoon 1kg natural yoghurt into a clean muslin (cheesecloth) square or tea towel. Tie the four corners of cloth together to form a hanging bag and suspend it from a wooden spoon over a deep down ( we often hang it from the kitchen tap, as long as the weather isn’t too warm). Allow it to drain for 6-72 hours, the longer the time, the firmer the result. Bear in mind that thicker Greek-style yoghurts have already been strained, so they will take less time to firm up. If you like, swirl in various flavourings before you strain it : vanilla, honey, saffron…..


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