This is Layali Lubnan, which translates to Nights of Lebanon. It is a delicious pudding of sorts, made with semolina and milk, but allowed to thicken to a slice-able consistency.
The traditional flavoring is mastic (mistka – gum arabic), but I looked high and low in my kitchen and my little jar of mastic seems to have run away. I really wanted to make this dessert, so I made it with orange blossom water and vanilla, and it is very good this way, too.
You can use different toppings, according to preference : nuts, raisins, cut dried fruit, cinnamon. I used pistachios that I pulsed a few times in the food processor.
Also, about the toppings, you can use a chilled freshly whipped cream. I went the easy way, and got a can of thickened nestle cream. I had to get my kids to karate, then to pick my husband up to get home right in time to eat, so canned was just my speed, but if you have the time to whip cream, by all means, do so. It would be worth it
This is a small recipe, making enough to fill a 9″ pie plate, which is more than enough for my little family. You can double this recipe, if needed.
Note – you will notice that there is very little sugar in the actual dessert. I relied on the sweetness of the syrup, so that each person could drizzle as little or as much as they desired.
2 cups whole milk
½ cup semolina (coarse)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (or 1/4 teaspoon ground mastic or 1-2 small mastic balls)
1 teaspoon vanilla (or rose water)
1 cup whipped cream or 1 can nestle table cream
¼ cup pistachios, chopped or ground
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
Pour milk and sugar into a medium pot. Stir. Heat on high just till bubbles form around edges of milk. Add semolina slowly, stirring constantly.
Let cool 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make syrup: Place sugar, water, orange blossom water, and lemon juice in a small pot. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Serve cold, cut into individual pieces, with syrup drizzled on top.