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Recipe Development: Rose Malabi

This beautiful set custard is a Middle Eastern classic - simple, refined and (in this recipe) vegan! Eyal uses a mixture of coconut cream, sugar and cornstarch to create this sweet commonly found in eateries and restaurants across the region. Often topped with a luminous red sauce but Eyal’s recipe instead calls for an easy strawberry compote, elevated with rose water. The dessert is then topped with candied pistachios, encapsulating the flavours and aromas of the Middle East.

Development Stages

Key Components:

The Custard - Malabi (”muhallabiyya”) is traditionally a dessert with roots in Persia and the wider Middle East which is essentially a custard made from milk and cream flavoured with rose water. This floral note is the secret weapon in Malabi as it flavours the dish with an unmistakable Middle eastern note without overpowering it. For his recipe, Eyal has opted to go plant based, using coconut cream and cornstarch, sweetened with sugar. This coconut base makes the dessert a lot lighter, and is perfect as a sweet at the end of an Israeli feast!

Fruit sauce - while the most common topping for shop bought Malabi is a bright red syrup thickened into an almost jelly like consistency, Eyal will instead show you how to make a quick and easy compote using strawberries, spiced with star anise and cloves. Because the custard has a mild creamy flavour, it pairs well with fruit that has a good balance of tangy sweetness.

Topping - Both the custard and fruit sauce are quite soft components to the dish, so to add some variation in texture Eyal uses crushed pistachios sprinkled on top. Cooked gently in some demerara sugar, the nuts take on an almost caramelised exterior which gives a great mouthfeel to the dessert.


  1. Vegan custard making - learn how to make a set custard with all vegan ingredients
  2. Compote - understand the process of releasing the natural sugars in fruit to create a thick sauce
  3. Candying - explore the technique of melting sugars until they caramelise, and using it to coat different ingredients

Make It Your Own:

  • Custard - Eyal’s recipe calls for you to use coconut cream and cornstarch, however you can just as easily use milk and cream, and set your custard with other thickening agents such as eggs or aqua fava. The addition of rose water can also be swapped out for other aromatic ingredients such as vanilla extract or orange blossom water.
  • Shaping - the Malabi in this recipe are served in glasses, but you can just as easily serve the Malabi in any receptacle. Eyal even suggests that for an event you could  try a large sharing tray of Malabi where people can serve themselves with a ladle! Due to the chilling process in the fridge, the Malabi will set in whatever shaped vessel you like - so get creative!
  • Fruit Sauce - Eyal encourages you to think seasonal with your Malabi, so depending on what time in the year you make the dish, why not use what is available! In winter, why not try apples, pears or pomegranate? Or apricots and kiwis in Spring? Or you can avoid fruit altogether and try the likes of caramel, chai or a vanilla-cinnamon combination.
  • Toppings - the topping is really down to personal preference, but a little bit of crunch goes a long way in this dish. You can stick to candied seeds and nuts, like cashews or peanuts, or go for some shredded coconut, but if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try incorporating another middle eastern delicacy - Kataifi pastry (or shredded phyllo) is a great accompaniment to the dessert with its crispy shards!

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I think food is at its best when it’s fresh, simple...unpretentious. The most important thing? Ingredients - I am obsessed with quality.