The way it looks, the way it smells, the way it tastes, this recipe embodies the real Lebanese dessert. Namely, Lebanese use a lot of roses in their sweets – rose water, rose petals, syrup and jam. Pistachios are also very common, either ground in their pies, cakes or baklavas, in cookies, or ice cream, or only as a sprinkle over creams and yogurt.
Combination of pink and pistachio green on the plate is one of my favorite food color combinations, and on this white and milk background it is even prettier. Dessert has a pudding structure, it is sweet and aromatic, with a nutty and sour hint from pistachios and lemons. Divine! This is the thing I ate when I first tried Lebanese cuisine, and believe me, it will knock your socks off!
Original recipe is from the Salma Hage’s cookbook „The Lebanese Kitchen“, and I only slightly adapted it (my changes are in the brackets). You will need 5 minutes to prepare it, and then around 15 minutes to cook it. The hardest part is waiting for it to chill so you could enjoy it. Therefore, I suggest making it night before and tomorrow you will have a desert waiting to be eaten after lunch or dinner.
MILK CREAM/PUDDING WITH ROSES, PISTACHIOS AND LEMON SYRUP (gluten-free)
– serves 4 –
3 tablespoons corn starch (I used aru aru in the same amount)
16 oz milk (I used cow’s milk, but if you are vegan, use rice or oat milk, they are most neutral in taste)
1 tablespoon rose water
2 tablespoons sugar (I used only 1 and that was enough if you do not want it to be too sweet)
1 handful of pistachios, roughly chopped
4 teaspoons rose jam or jello to serve (I used only rose petals, because I made a lemon syrup like a lemon jello)
for the lemon syrup (I made a jelly)
1 1/3 cup (300g) sugar (and 1tablespoons of aru aru or gelatin if you want it thicker)
1 lemon leaf (you can omit)
1 slice of lemon (unpeeled), 2-3mm thick
juice from 1/2 lemon
5 oz water
1. In a small bowl combine the thickening agent with some water or milk.
2. Heat the milk in a deep pan then add sugar. Before it comes to boil, take it off heat and stir in the thickening „paste“ slowly, and cook it all for 5 minutes on a low heat (If using some other thickener than aru, cook it an extra 4-5 minutes). In the end, add rose water and stir it through. Although the cream won’t be thick, do not worry, it will become thicker while chilling.
3. Prepare 4 bowls or glass dishes for serving, then sip the cooked cream in them equally. Let it cool for about an hour on the room temperature then transfer it to the fridge and let sit for at least 2 hours.
4. Make the lemon syrup (or jello, if you prefer).
5. Wash your lemon, cut it in half, then squeeze the juice from one half, and use the other half to cut off one slice of lemon (save the rest).
6. Pour water in the pan, add sugar and lemon slice. Let it simmer until all sugar dissolves and it becomes little thicker and stickier. It will last for some 15-20 minutes. Then add lemon juice and continue cooking for another few minutes. Take off the stove, pour it in the jar and let it cool. If you want to make a jello (as I did), add a tablespoon of aru aru or gelatin in the beginning, with the sugar)
7. Roughly chop pistachios, and prepare rose petals, if using.
8. When the cream is cold, serve it with your syrup (jello), sprinkle with pistachios and rose petals, and enjoy!
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