Welcome, Ramadan! The month of fasting has started a few days ago. But to be honest, only during day time, it is the month of fasting. After sunset, however, one can observe that Ramadan is often turned into the month of excessive eating. With growing hunger, the activities in the kitchen increase proportionally to reach their peak shortly before sunset.
I can understand it since I have fallen into the ‘hunger trap’ often enough. Will it be enough? Is there enough variety on the table? Just one more Pizza, one more drink, some more biscuits….And the result? Hours and hours in the kitchen and food that remains almost untouched on the table. Most of us have the idea that Ramadan simply includes a richly laid Iftar table, and you also want to try the specialties that are only prepared during Ramadan (why actually?).
Nevertheless, I think that this tradition contradicts the principles of Ramadan. I understand Ramadan as the month devotion, of praying, and of spiritual and physical purification. So this year I decided NOT to turn the blessed month of Ramadan into the month of kitchen and gluttony.
After a long day of fasting, we need to eat. But believe me, a soup (e.g. my vegetable soup, vegan harira, red lentil soup) , some dates, and a salty snack (e.g. vegan briouats, coca de trampó, leek quiche) or just a boiled egg is enough. Try to eat healthy food that supplies your body with the necessary nutrients, stay away from deep-fried delicacies.
Today I will share with you a recipe for a quick dessert that satisfies the hunger for sweet things without being too unhealthy. Mahalabia with toasted nuts.
Mahalabia is an oriental milk pudding flavored either with orange blossom water either with rose water. The pudding can be eaten pure but often it is decorated with chopped nuts and raisins. There are versions with rice and variants with corn starch.
With my mahalabia recipe, you can make a light and creamy milk pudding based on corn starch. It’s not too sweet and really easy and quick to make. Instead of decorating the mahalabia with nuts, I top it with a generous layer of chopped and lightly sugared walnuts and almonds. For me, nuts are really important especially during Ramadan, as they are a great source for healthy calories and they provide us with energy for fasting.
You can fill the mahalabia into small bowls. I, however, prefer to triple the recipe and to fill it into a glass casserole. So I have mahalabia for about 3 days and I can store it easily in the fridge.
The mahalabia is not only good for Iftar but it is also a nice alternative for sugary industrial yogurt products at Suhoor (the meal before you start fasting).
Ingredients for about 4 portions:
for the mahalabia:
- 500 ml of milk
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water
for the sugared nuts:
- 50g whole almonds
- 50g whole walnuts
- 35 g sugar
- a pinch of cinnamon
- Put the corn starch, the sugar, and the orange blossom water into a small bowl and add some of the milk. Then stir the mixture well, until it is smooth and all lumps have disappeared.
- Next, put the remaining milk into a pot and bring and heat it until it starts to boil.
- When the milk is boiling, add the corn starch mixture and stir the mahalabia vigorously for some seconds, then turn off the heat. It should have the consistency of a slightly creamy soup.
- Fill the mahalabia immediately into small bowls or a glass casserole (in this case you should double or even triple the amount of the ingredients). Let it cool at room temperature. You can cover it with a cotton kitchen cloth to protect it from insects (flies, ants, bees…). It’s not good to use cling film because of the steam.
- While the mahalabia is cooling down, toast the nuts in a small pot without oil until fragrant.
- Next, put the nuts on a plate and clean the pot. Then, add water, sugar, and cinnamon and bring everything to boil.
- Let the mixture cook until you can see a lot of large bubbles on the surface. Now, add the toasted nuts and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. The nuts are ready, when they are dry and lightly covered with sugar. Immediately turn off the heat and put the nuts on a plate to let them cool a little. Stir the nuts in this step regularly as they can burn easily.
- When the nuts are cool, put them into a chopper and chop them roughly. If you don’t have a machine, you can also chop them with a large and sharp knife but it’s a little exhausting.
- Finally, top the cool mahalabia with the chopped nuts, cover it optionally with cling film, and store it in the fridge. It tastes best when it is well chilled!
When there is some hard caramelized sugar in your pot, don’t worry! Fill the pot with water and let it rest. The sugar will dissolve and you can clean the pot easily!