A creamy Middle Eastern pudding.
By Leah Koenig
Malabi--the creamy, milk-based pudding perfumed with rose water--is one of the most popular desserts across the Middle East. In Israel, the sweet treat has become a beloved and ubiquitously available street food and is increasingly offered in upscale restaurants.
According to Janna Gur's The New Book of Israeli Food (Shocken, 2007), the recipe originally hails from Turkey. (The dessert is alternatively called sutlach from the Turkish word sut, which means milk.) In some Sephardic homes malabi is traditionally served to break the fast on Yom Kippur. It is also an offering at Turkish Jewish weddings, to symbolize the couple's sweet life ahead, and during Shavuot--and not simply because it is milk-based. "Rose water...is a popular flavoring on Shavuot among Sephardim, who call the holiday 'the Feast of Roses,'" writes chef and historian Rabbi Gil Marks in The World of Jewish Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 1999).
In a medium bowl, mix one cup of milk with the cornstarch, rose water, and vanilla until the cornstarch dissolves; set aside. Bring remaining milk and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat, pour in the dissolved cornstarch mixture and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken.
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