Mhalbi in Tunisia, or mulhalbia in Morocco, is a sweet, custardlike dessert popular throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Moroccans and Algerians use orange flower water or rose water to flavour this dessert, while Tunisians add a fragrant liquid distilled from rose geraniums. In Morocco, the custard is often served in a communal dish set in the center of the table and garnished with ground almonds and cinnamon. In Tunisia, it is usually served in individual parfait glasses and topped with pine nuts or crushed pistachios.

1/3 cup cornstarch
3 cups milk
cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons orange flower, rose, or rose geranium water
cup almonds, toasted pine nuts, or pistachio nuts, ground
2 cups fresh raspberries (optional)
In a small bowl, dilute the cornstarch with cup of the milk. Set aside. In a heavy, medium saucepan, bring the remaining 2 cups milk, sugar, and cinnamon stick to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture. Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the orange flower, rose, or rose geranium water. pour into 5 individual ramekins or parfait glasses. Let cool.
Sprinkle with the nuts and garnish with fresh raspberries, if using. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 5.

area : Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia

course : dessert

source : North Africa : The Vegetarian Table / Kitty Morse