Mahalabia, also named Muhallebi, is a creamy dessert (pudding) made with sugar, rice flour, mixed with milk, semolina or starch from the Middle East. Traditionally, it is garnished with nuts and rose petals on the top. However, many chefs use different toppings to create their versions. While the dessert is called Mahalabia in Egypt, the Turkey and Iraqi variant is called Muhallebi, the Syrian and Lebanese variant is named Mahalayeh, and the Israeli variant is anointed Malabi.

History Of Mahalabia

It is believed that Muhallebi was introduced in Arab cuisine in the late 7th century by a Persian cook Sassanid Persia, who served it to Arab general Al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra. He relished it and decided to name the dessert after his name. In the 19th century, an English cookbook that showcased the recipe for muhallebi called it ‘Ramazan cakes’. The recipe calls for boiling milk with rice flour and sugar until the mixture reduces. This rose and jasmine flavoured pudding was garnished with powdered sugar before serving. So, this Valentine's Day, try your hands on this irresistible creamy strawberry recipe.

Strawberry Mahalabia by Chef Malay Rana, Executive Chef, Howard Johnson By Wyndham Kolkata


  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp strawberry essence
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • Salt a pinch garnishing:
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped pistachios
  • Fresh strawberry and strawberry syrup
  • Dried rose petals (optional)
  • Mint leaves


  1. Combine ½ cup cold milk and rice flour and whisk till smooth
  2. In a medium saucepan, add the remaining milk and cream and start to boil along with the strawberry essence
  3. When the milk is boiling, keep gas to medium heat and slowly add the flour mixture
  4. Once the rice flour mixture is simmering, add a sugar whisk constantly until the mixture thickens
  5. Turn the flame to low while whisking until the mixture reaches a pudding consistency. Add cornflour to further thicken for setting in the mould
  6. Once the pudding thickens, remove the pot from the heat and pour it into small dessert bowls
  7. Refrigerate the bowls for a couple of hours until the pudding is set well
  8. Before serving, garnish the Mahalabia with crushed pistachios, sliced fresh strawberry, mint leaves and strawberry syrup