middle eastern pudding

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Orange Cardamom Malabi with Drunken Figs

Thursday, September 28th, 2017


If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know just how much I love to cook with the seasons. When fruits and vegetables are at their peak, they tend to taste much better and cost much less. It also helps with menu planning because you can scale down the ingredients that you want to incorporate into your menu.

Late summer/Early fall would have to be my favorite of all the seasons, mostly because of the figs. You still get to enjoy the late summer harvest of corn and tomatoes, but you also get to go apple picking with your family, and enjoy the early signs of pomegranates and pumpkins. I love incorporating all the warm autumn flavors of nutmeg and cloves into my food – it’s like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, especially under the Sukkah, where you get to enjoy that evening chill without having to bundle up.

Sukkot is a great time to experiment with warm spices and seasonal produce and one of the ways I do that is to poach fruits in spiced wine. Poached pears are a classic, but I’ve also done cherries, cranberriesapricots, and of course, just plain old mulled wine, which is one of my favorite drinks of all time. Adding warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, along with orange zest and peppercorns, gives the wine a deep, rich flavor, not to mention that the smell is intoxicating.

Speaking of wines, I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, but recently, we’ve started getting more into it. It’s really fun to try new wines and note the characteristics of the different grapes and how they are aged. We’re even looking into getting a wine cooler, which are surprisingly more affordable than you might think. P.C. Richard & Son has a great selection here, and it looks like they are running a birthday sale so it’s a great time to take advantage.

I was reading up on why wine fridges are important over on The Kitchn, and it looks like storing my wine collection in my hot kitchen cabinet is a bad idea. So I’m thinking this seriously affordable free standing cooler might be a nice Sukkot gift for the hubby this year! And I wouldn’t complain at all if he decided to buy me something in turn from this collection of outdoor furniture to spruce up my Sukkah, especially this low-cost fire pit (can you imagine drinking mulled wine around that?!).

Now if you’re not familiar with this dessert, malabi is a Middle Eastern rosewater pudding that’s traditionally served with pomegranate syrup. The pudding is always finished with some chopped pistachios, and shredded coconut and it’s a decadent, yet light, dessert that’s the perfect finish to a holiday meal.


I’m a huge fan of malabi’s cousin, sachlav, which is basically the unset version of malabi – a pudding that you drink hot instead of cold. Malabi is great to make in advance, because it holds well in the refrigerator. The flavor of the orange and cardamom is so refreshing, and it can be served on it’s own, with some pomegranate seeds, pistachios and shredded coconut, or you can go all out and make the drunken figs for a gorgeous dish that’s worthy of your Sukkah.


I love figs in all shapes and sizes – every variety – raw, cooked or jammed. This beautiful crimson version is poached in red wine with warm spices, and the wine is then reduced into a luscious syrup. The drunken figs can be served over pound cake, ice cream or yogurt, along with a drizzle of the red wine syrup. Whether you choose to serve it with the malabi, or over another dessert, your guests will be wowed!

Wishing you and yours a Chag Sameach!

This post is sponsored by P.C. Richard & Son. All opinions are my own. 

Related Recipes:

sachlav rosewater pudding
mulled wine
halva and ricotta stuffed figs
cherries in red wine syrup

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Sachlav Rose Water Pudding

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Sachlav (also pronounced sahlab, salep, or saloop) is a popular warm winter drink in the Middle East. Even though I spent an entire year living in Israel, this light rose water pudding made it past me somehow and my first taste of it was actually in a restaurant in Brooklyn, named Bissale. I was reminiscing about my Bissale experiences in this recent post, and the fragrant rose water drink just came back to me.

I thought a rose water scented pudding would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, when Jews commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is told that Mount Sinai was covered in roses at the time the Torah was received, so many communities have a custom to decorate their homes and synagogues (as well as Torah scrolls) with roses. Persian Jews even refer to this holiday as the Feast of the Roses and in some Sephardic synagogues, it is customary to sprinkle rose water on the congregants.

Rose water, which is made by steeping and distilling fresh rose petals in water, is featured in many Sephardic desserts and pastries. It can be purchased at most Middle Eastern and specialty food stores.

Sachlav was traditionally made with ground orchid tubers called sahlab. The tubers of the orchid were dried and ground up to create a fragrant powder that thickens the milk into a pudding. Nowadays, cornstarch, which is cheaper and easier to find, is used to thicken the drink. Sachlav is usually finished with a touch of orange blossom or rose water, but some prefer to forgo the fragrant waters and garnish it with coconut, cinnamon and/or nuts and raisins.

Sachlav is usually served in the winter, like a Middle Eastern hot chocolate. Personally, I have a weakness for hot pudding (I always eat chocolate pudding boiling hot, right out of the pot) so I’m good eating it all year long. If you prefer a cold pudding, you can set the sachlav in the fridge, and serve it up like traditional malabi.

So what’s malabi? It’s a cold rose-water-scented milk pudding, that is pretty similar to sachlav, except it’s usually garnished with raspberry syrup and pistachios. If you’d like to turn this recipe into malabi, simply pour into serving glasses, let cool and then refrigerate until set. You might want to garnish it with my strawberry rhubarb compote for a seasonal garnish that would compliment the rose water really well.

1 year ago: pesto & goat cheese crostini
2 years ago: sundried tomato olive tapenade

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