This is a popular Middle Eastern dessert and every country you go to you will find a different version. Muhallabiya is a very simple yet satisfying custard like dessert. The coolness and light taste of flavors is delightful after any meal.

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup ground rice
4-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1-1/2 tablespoon rose water
3 tablespoons clear honey
1/3 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped

1. Mix the cornstarch and ground rice with 1/2 cup cold milk, making sure to break all lumps. In a large non-stick pan, bring 4 cups of milk to boil. Add cornstarch mixture, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Keep heat on low, stirring constantly, until you feel a light resistance. Continue to cook 15-20 minutes, or until cream thickens.

2. Be careful to not scrape bottom of pan, so mixture does not have burnt taste. Stir in orange blossom water and 1 tablespoon of rose water, cook for a few minutes. Let the cream cool, place in serving bowl then chill in refrigerator with top covered with plastic wrap, the longer you chill the better it taste.

3. When the pudding is cold, prepare honey syrup in a small pan by bringing honey and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Stir well and add remaining 1/2 tablespoon of rose water. Let cool, and then pour over chilled cream. Allow to sit a few minutes then sprinkle almonds and pistachios over the top.

Yields: 6 servings

Adapted from Arabesque

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