Mahalebi Cyprus Dessert

Cyprus Milk Mahalepi
Mahalepi Milk Pudding

Mahalebi, also known as Muhalabiya, is a traditional Middle Eastern milk pudding that has found a beloved place in Cypriot cuisine. This delicate and creamy dessert is simple to prepare yet incredibly satisfying, making it a popular choice for both everyday meals and festive occasions.

Milk Pudding From Cyprus
Ingredients and Preparation

The primary ingredients for mahalebi are milk, sugar, and a thickening agent, typically corn-starch or rice flour. The milk is gently heated with sugar until it reaches a simmer, then the thickening agent, dissolved in a small amount of water, is added. This mixture is cooked until it thickens to a smooth, pudding-like consistency. Often, the dessert is flavoured with rose water or

orange blossom water, giving it a fragrant and exotic aroma that is characteristic of many Middle Eastern sweets.

Once thickened, the mahalebi is poured into serving dishes and left to cool. It is typically served chilled, allowing the flavours to meld and the texture to firm up into a creamy, silky pudding.

Serving Suggestions

Mahalebi is traditionally garnished with a variety of toppings that add both texture and flavour. Popular choices include chopped nuts such as pistachios or almonds, which provide a delightful crunch. A sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg can add a warm, spicy note, while a drizzle of honey or a spoonful of 

Milk Mahalepi

fruit syrup can enhance the pudding’s natural sweetness. In Cyprus, it’s common to see mahalebi served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a few drops of rose water.

Cultural Significance

This dessert holds a special place in Cypriot cuisine, reflecting the island’s historical and cultural connections with the broader Middle Eastern region. It is often enjoyed during celebrations and religious festivals, symbolizing hospitality and the joy of sharing food with loved ones.


Mahalebi is more than just a dessert; it’s a cultural bridge that connects Cyprus with the rich culinary traditions of the Middle East. Its simple ingredients and straightforward preparation belie its delicious taste and the comforting, familiar pleasure it brings to those who enjoy it. Whether served plain or adorned with an array of toppings, mahalebi remains a timeless favourite, cherished by generations.

Recipe of milk mahalepi

4 cups (1 litter) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) corn-starch
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
1-2 teaspoons rose water or orange blossom water (optional)
Chopped pistachios or almonds for garnish (optional)
Ground cinnamon for garnish (optional)
Fruit syrup or honey for garnish (optional)


1. Prepare the Thickening Agent:
2. In a small bowl, dissolve the corn-starch in cold water. Stir until you get a smooth mixture with no lumps.

Heat the Milk:

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, pour in the milk and add the sugar.
2. Heat the milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the milk is hot but not boiling.

Thicken the Milk:

1. Once the milk is hot, reduce the heat to low.
2. Gradually pour in the corn-starch mixture while continuously stirring the milk. This step is crucial to avoid lumps.
3. Continue to stir the mixture over low heat until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. This usually takes about 5-10 minutes.
4. If you are using rose water or orange blossom water, add it now and stir to combine.

Set the Pudding:

1. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
2. Pour the thickened mixture into individual serving dishes or a large serving bowl.
3. Allow it to cool at room temperature for a while, then transfer the dishes to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or until fully set.


1. Before serving, garnish with your choice of chopped nuts, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, and a drizzle of fruit syrup or honey if desired.
2. Serve chilled and enjoy this creamy, aromatic dessert.


1. Stir continuously while heating the milk and after adding the corn-starch mixture to prevent sticking and ensure a smooth texture.
2. Adjust the amount of rose water or orange blossom water to your taste preference; a little goes a long way.
3. Experiment with different toppings like shredded coconut or fresh berries to add variety to the dessert.
4. Milk mahalepi is a delightful, simple dessert that’s sure to impress with its creamy texture and subtle, aromatic flavours. Enjoy!

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