Layali Lubnan or Lebanese Nights is a popular middle eastern milk pudding with semolina flavoured with mastic or orange blossom and rose water. A simple and easy dessert to make for any occasion.
I am not sure if it has been evident with my food trials, so let me state the fact - I love Lebanese cuisine.
What is Layali Lubnan?
Layali Lubnan or Lebanese Nights pudding as the name suggests is a popular Lebanese dessert. A semolina based Arabic milk pudding of the Middle East. Lebanese Nights is an aromatic dessert that is simple and yet delectable and has a rich taste coming from subtle hints of Mastic or Arabic Gum, orange blossom water and rose water. In some regions, it also goes by the name, Madlouah.
This Arabic dessert recipe is layered with semolina on the bottom, topped with cream and then decorated with some pistachios and drizzled with atter, the middle eastern's aromatic sugar syrup.
The variations that I have come across on the web range from adding an egg to the pudding base, using whipped cream to top the pudding, using Ashta or Kashta (clotted cream) to top the pudding or mixing the Ashta with table cream to top the pudding. But the three flavours of mastic, orange blossom and rose water seemed to be highly recommended.
Add the garnish and syrup only when serving
After my first attempt that I shared on IG, I made a big batch for a dinner party at Z's home. I mixed the syrup with cream to top the pudding so that I can avoid carrying an additional container. I also added the ground pistachio much earlier which got wet in the cream and it looked gross. Though she said it tasted yummy, I was heartbroken it didn't look anywhere near how I wanted it. Lessons learnt. Do not try shortcuts on an already simple recipe!
Lebanon flag colours
No one seems to know why this dessert is called the Lebanese Nights but the most accepted reason is that this dessert celebrates the colours of the Lebanese flag. So the white Arabic pudding, green pistachios and for the red, traditionally they use the orange blossom petal jam or rose petal jam (Now, this will be my next hunt) I didn't have to think much for a sub when we have our rubies in plenty! 😛 Pomegranate!
This time I chose to make them in individual servings to curb our intake. As it stays good in the fridge, I can have these over at least two to three days. We shared one bowl of Layali Lubnan for a late-night dessert. It was silky smooth and creamy soft.
The next day, I couldn't resist the temptation and reached for the small bowl for my lunch. The third bowl? We were having some silly cold shoulders ramp walk, so I just gulped down without offering him. Not guilty but felt sorry for him. ;-P
This version I am sharing today is eggless and I have used the Cream that we get in small tins here. I wanted to make my own Ashta but did not have enough milk at that time. This pudding is also the base cream filling for my kunafa recipe.
Layali Lubnan recipe demands a few minutes of undivided attention while making the pudding base and the sugar syrup. A little distraction and you have high chances to ruin the dish. But this is the easiest make-ahead dessert!
How to make layali lubnan?
- Prepare the semolina pudding and let it cool and refrigerate.
- Prepare the Lebanese sugar syrup aka aromatic atter and let it cool.
- Top the pudding with cream or ashta. I used nestle ashta cream for this version.
- Garnish and drizzle with sugar syrup before serving!
Personally, I would have preferred to have it all sweet instead of me having to add the syrup. But the pouring of syrup itself gives a very middle east vibe! 🙂
If you want to know how it feels to eat this, Layali Lubnan leaves a velvety feel with the richness of the clotted cream or table cream that is creamy and silky, complimenting the Arabic semolina pudding. The subtle hints of mastic gum, orange blossom water and rose water capture the Middle Eastern desserts aroma. Let's not forget the nuttiness of pistachios and the sweetness of the aromatic syrup, all in one mouthwatering bite.Famidha Ashraf
Lebanese Nights Pudding is definitely a perfect dessert to serve at dinner parties!
Layali Lubnan | Lebanese Nights | Semolina Pudding
For the pudding base
- 1½ cup full-fat milk
- ¼ cup fine semolina
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 to 2 mastic tears crushed (optional)
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- 1 teaspoon rose water
For the aromatic syrup or atter
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 crushed cardamom
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of rose water or orange blossom water
For the topping
- ½ can of cream or ashta Nestle, Puck. Almarai, etc*
- pistachios you can use chopped or ground
- rose petal jam optional
- Pomegranate arils for the colour pop! optional
Prepare the Pudding base
- Keep the pudding tray or the individual bowls ready to be used on the counter.
- Crush the mastic tear with the back of a spoon.
- Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed deep saucepan over medium heat until it is just warm to the touch.
- Slowly stir in the rest of the pudding base ingredients while continuing to stir until the mixture reaches the boiling point.
- Continue to stir on low to medium flame and add more rosewater or orange blossom water if required.
- Ensure no lumps are formed and so keep stirring until the mixture thickens slightly. It will thicken as it gets cold, so don't cook for too long. Just thick enough that it coats the back of the spoon.
- Pour the pudding base mixture into the tray or divide equally into each of the bowls
- Let it cool on the counter and then move them into the fridge.
Prepare the aromatic syrup
- Add the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil on high heat and let it boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the lemon juice, cardamom and rose or orange blossom water.
- Let it boil for another 5 to 7 minutes and then switch off.
- Transfer the syrup to the serving bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- Serve separately along with the pudding.
Top with cream
- Check if the pudding is totally cooled and spread the cream evenly.
- Cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours
Garnish before serving (add this close to serving time)
- Place the slivered or ground pistachios creatively.
- Place some pomegranate arils or if you are lucky to have some petal jams, then that goes perfectly with this pudding.
- Serve along with the syrup bowl.
- Pour as much syrup as you want over the pudding. Enjoy.