By Miranda Frum
Every Israeli is familiar with malabi, a delicious dessert which is just as essential to Middle Eastern cuisine as hummus or falafel. Malabi is a milk pudding, flavored with vanilla and rosewater, and sprinkled with crushed up peanuts and/or coconut flakes. During Israel’s hot summer, malabi is the ultimate, refreshing dessert — and we’ve managed to source one of the best versions, from Tel Aviv’s La Shuk restaurant in Dizengoff Square.
La Shuk opened its doors six years ago with a mission to bring the traditional foods of Jaffa and the Palestinian territories into central Tel Aviv. Try their mousachan, a Palestinian holiday dish. Think of chicken confit cooked for seven hours with pine nuts, tomato, onion, and yogurt, served on a laffa (thick spongy bread). Or, for red meat enthusiasts, there’s La Shuk’s sinye dish: lamb baked with tahini and eggplant.
But, what La Shuk really does best is their version of malabi: not too sweet, with just enough peanuts (and in their case, pistachios) to add the perfect crunch to the otherwise creamy custard. All of La Shuk’s ingredients are local (of course), and the ambiance of the restaurant is exciting and fresh –a place where neighbors can eat a delicious meal and enjoy a refreshing glass of rose from an impressively curated wine list.
Malabi makes for a romantic dessert for your significant other this Tu B’Av.
Serves 4 to 6.
2 cup heavy cream
2 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
5 tbs corn starch mixed in 1/4 cup water
2 tbs rosewater
Toasted chopped pistachio nuts, coconut flakes, and extra rosewater for serving.
Mix the cream, milk, and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. Slowly add the corn starch mixture into the boiling milk, stirring constantly until thickened, approximately 5 minutes.
Meanwhile place a metal bowl large enough to hold the milk mixture inside another pot large enough to contain it, and fill halfway up the bowl’s sides with ice water. Pour in the milk mixture and stir it every 3 minutes until it is completely cold. Mix in the rosewater and transfer to the serving bowls. (Editor’s note: You can also distribute into serving bowls, let cool, and then refrigerate.)
When ready to serve, garnish with the nuts, coconut flakes, and a drizzle of rosewater.
Miranda Frum is a fashion model and journalist, who also serves as FT&V’s style advisor. Photo courtesy of La Shuk.