Sunday, July 29, 2012

Muhallabiya | مهلبية

Is there anything better than a dessert that calls for just 4 ingredients? I think the simpler any recipe is, the better. I've never been a fan of over-complicated recipes which call for ingredients that you've never heard of that come from some point on Earth. The best desserts are the ones that focus on 2-3 ingredients and have maximum flavor!

I grew up eating desserts that weren't fussy like Muhallabiya and rice pudding - in Arabic: Riz b haleeb | رز بحليب - and always loved the pudding-like texture. In fact, it's the reason why my favorite dessert is chocolate pudding! But anyway, I wanted to sort of recreate a small part of my childhood by trying to make Muhallabiya on my own. So you can imagine the joy I felt when my mother told me what Muhallabiya consists of: milk, sugar, corn flour and whatever topping you desire which, in this case, was pistachios for me. Just a few steps and you get a lovely milk pudding which isn't too sweet nor is it too heavy.
Thanks to bad lighting during iftar time (sunset), photo quality wasn't so great. Sorry!
I can only imagine the different combinations that people come up with to add into this dessert or to top it off with; the variations are endless!

Muhallabiya - My mother's recipe
makes 4 large bowls

1 liter full fat milk, cold
3 tablespoons corn flour*
1/2 cup sugar (100 g) - you can add more or less sugar, it's a matter of personal taste
A generous handful of peeled, unsalted pistachio; chopped

  • In a separate glass, mix in 1/2 cup of milk with the 3 tablespoons of corn flour. Set aside.
  • In a large pot on medium heat, pour the rest of the milk in and whisk in the sugar.
  • When the milk starts to heat up, add the corn flour & milk mix into the pot. Continue whisking.
  • Once the mixture starts coming to a boil, the consistency of the milk should start to get thicker.
    * If you feel that it hasn't thickened even after it's been boiling for about a minute, go ahead and mix in another tablespoon of corn flour in 1/4 cup of milk and plop that right in. Repeat again if the same happens, but that is unlikely :)
  • Continue whisking until you reach a pudding-like texture (it should coat the back of a spoon quite well). Be careful not to boil too much as it can curdle!
  • Remove the pot from the heat and, using a fine sieve, filter the Muhallabiya into a large bowl. This is to leave out any bits of burnt milk from the bottom of the pot (which is inevitable).
  • Scoop the Muhallabiya into desired serving bowls. Cover with a sheet of cling wrap, allowing the cling wrap to touch the surface of the Muhallabiya, so as not to create a skin.
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours (or until it's cold enough to your liking).
  • When ready to serve, peel off cling wrap and decorate with pistachios
  • Enjoy!

Ramadan Mubarak & Happy Baking!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Ever get those days when you're too lazy to roll out of bed? And so you just stay in there for the next hour either reading a book or contemplating the meaning of life and your purpose in it? And then suddenly you get that sweet tooth calling out to you, pleading that you satisfy it with a nectarous breakfast? Yeah, I get those mornings more often than I'd like to admit. Sometimes I feel a tad more creative and flip through my cook books to find something different, but easy, to make.

This is where the churros come in...

The first time I ever tried churros was when I had my first Taste of Dubai experience. I fell in love with what I'd like to call a Spanish doughnut; they had a crispy shell and were so light and airy inside. Little did I know, they are really simple to make! Apart from the chocolate dipping sauce that comes along with this recipe, the churros themselves have 7 ingredients that you need. And the best part is that all these ingredients can be found in any kitchen where lots of cooking is being done. Yay for convenience! And another yay for laziness!

The sound of the light crackling & popping of the oil when deep frying the churros is like music to my ears. (I promise I don't deep fry as much as the previous statement makes me sound like I do..) It reminds me so much of my childhood: when my mom used to make chicken nuggets and french fries for me and my brother on a lazy day in. Deep-frying seems to be synonymous with being a couch potato, huh? Ah well, everyone deserves a break from time to time. But yes, the churros. Once they touch the hot oil, they almost immediately poof up into little pillows and float on the surface. Just be careful not to burn yourself with oil popping everywhere and you're set.

The perfect lazy sweet snack for the ultimate lazy day in.

P.S. Am I a glutton for thinking these would be absolutely delicious with dulce de leche? WOW! Need to make some more to try that out.

Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce adapted from Nigella Lawson's Kitchen

For the churros:

50g caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1x15ml tablespoon olive oil
250ml freshly boiled water
approx. 500ml corn or vegetable oil, for deep frying

- Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a wide, shallow dish: this is for shaking the cooked churros in to coat them later.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl then beat in the olive oil and the boiled water.
- Keep mixing until you have a warm, sticky dough.
- Leave it to rest for about 10 minutes.
- Heat up the oil in a small saucepan, the oil should come up about a third of the way up the sides of the pan. It should be about 170°C. 
- Load up a piping bag with a large star-shaped tip and fill it with the churros dough.
- Squeeze short lengths (4-5cm) of dough into the hot oil, snipping them off with a pair of scissors as you go.
- Cook about 4-5 at a time and, once they turn a rich golden brown, fish them out of the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula or with tongs onto a baking sheet lined with some kitchen roll.
- To keep the cooked churros warm while you fry the remaining dough, transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet and hold in a low heat oven.
- Once you're done cooking all the churros, allow them to rest for a few minutes.
- While they're still warm, toss them in the sugar and cinnamon mixture and shake them about till they all get a good covering.

For the chocolate dipping sauce:

100g good-quality dark chocolate
25g chocolate milk
1x15ml tablespoon golden syrup
150ml double cream

- Melt all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat.Once the chocolate starts to melt, stir everything together and take it off the heat.
- Leave it in a warm place.
- Serve in individual pots/bowls.
- Enjoy!

Happy Baking!