A deliciously smooth & creamy Israeli pudding, this vegan Malabi is made with coconut and almond milks, flavoured with rosewater, and topped with luscious pomegranate syrup.
At the end of last year we took a foodie tour of the Levinsky market in Tel Aviv. One of the highlights for me was the delicious vegan malabi we tried. Malabi is traditionally a dairy dessert, but this one was made with coconut milk and was creamy, sweet and delicious. I promised myself I would attempt to recreate it when we got home.
Time for Dairy Desserts
Shavuot is approaching, and dairy desserts are the order of the day. My mind returned to the delicately scented, smooth, vegan malabi pudding, crowned with sweet syrup and pomegranate seeds. I decided at once that this was the perfect dessert for the festival – all the loveliness of a milky pudding with none of the actual milk!
(You may be wondering why I’m so keen to have a dairy-free dessert. My insides don’t always appreciate large quantities of dairy products, even if my mouth does! Plus, we have a vegan guest for Shavuot, so….)
Malabi is very popular in Israel and often pops up on dessert buffets, cafe menus etc. It was introduced to the country by the Ottomans, and shares some features with the Turkish pudding muhallebi whose roots lie in early Persian cuisine. It has the same culinary ancestors as the more familiar (and altogether blander) blancmange, which is also a milky pudding thickened with cornflour.
In Israel, malabi is usually flavoured with rosewater and topped with bright pink raspberry or pomegranate syrup. Similar dishes also exist in Cyprus, Greece, and across the Middle East, but are usually served with a rose syrup, and often for breakfast rather than dessert. I find it fascinating how a relatively simple dish can evolve and change as it is adapted by different communities!
A balance of sweetness
I used a mixture of coconut and almond milks in this recipe, with just a touch of sugar – I didn’t want the custard to be too sweet as it gets drenched in syrup before eating. The malabi is simple to prepare, and after wondering how I was going to make a pomegranate syrup I had a brainwave – grenadine! I bought Teisseire sirop de grenadine from Sainsbury’s (in the fruit squash section) but there are several other brands listed as kosher by KLBD.
If you’re feeling keen, you can make your own syrup by boiling up pomegranate juice and sugar. Use an equal volume of each, and simmer until you get a syrupy consistency. It should keep in the fridge for a week or two. It probably won’t be as vibrantly pink as grenadine though.
I was really pleased how this vegan malabi turned out. Even DH – not a big eater of desserts – said my malabi was “perfect“. I wasn’t sure how my daughter Kipper would react to the floral rosewater flavour, but she loved it too. Although she’s a massive pomegranate fan, so perhaps that’s what swung it.
For reasons best known to myself, I decided to film myself making this vegan malabi. This is only the second recipe video I’ve ever made and it’s about 1000% better than my first attempt! The full recipe and instructions are below. (No, that isn’t me playing the piano, sadly.)
(To share this video on Facebook, use this link: https://www.facebook.com/familyfriendsfoodblog/videos/781512502010769/)
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- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3½ tbsp cornflour (corn starch)
- 200 ml almond milk (scant 1 cup)
- 1½ tsp rose water or to taste
- 400 ml tin coconut milk (13½-14 oz. can)
- 60-100 ml grenadine (approx. ¼-½ cup)
- 1 pomegranate - seeds only!
- Whisk together the sugar, cornflour and 50ml (approx 3 tbsp) of the almond milk in a large jug. Mix in the rose water and set aside.
- Place the remaining 150ml almond milk and the coconut milk in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until almost boiling.
- Slowly pour the hot liquid into the cornflour mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat.
- Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the liquid thickens slightly.
- Pour into serving dishes and allow to cool before covering with plastic wrap and transferring to the fridge to chill.
- When ready to serve, pour about a tablespoon of grenadine over each pudding, and top with pomegranate seeds.
If you need more vegan Shavuot dessert inspiration, how about this vegan panna cotta with roasted rhubarb?
Not vegan? Try some inside-out cheesecake cookies, these delicious mini berry cheesecakes, yummy cheesecake popcorn, or this fabulous cheese blintz crepe cake.
And if you need savoury dishes too, here are 40+ make ahead recipes for easy Spring and Summer entertaining.
Or take a look at my Shavuot board on Pinterest for all manner of delicious delights!