We are ending our Ramadan series on a sweet note with our dessert madlouqa, or as many in the Levant pronounce it, madloua’a. In Ramadan, we generally have dessert almost every night, or at least some fresh fruit, and for lots of people, this is the highlight of their Ramadan meals. I love to have cold desserts, especially in warmer weather, because I find them less heavy and cooling.
Madlouqa is made in different ways across the Levant, with some making it with a semolina base and others with a knafeh dough base. Today I’ll be showing you how to make it with semolina, which is how my family enjoys it. The word madlouqa comes from dalaqa, which means to pour something, and this refers to how we pour the two layers over each other. The two layers of this dessert are the semolina base, consisting of toasted semolina and sugar syrup, and the milk pudding topping.
For your semolina base, it is traditionally toasted with ghee, but I prefer butter. However, feel free to use what you prefer. It is important that you constantly move the semolina around the pan so that everything gets browned evenly and nothing gets burned. Once it is time to add your sugar syrup, make sure to reduce the heat, because it will start to bubble vigorously. I added a cup and a quarter of water to my mixture, but you may need to add a little more water depending on how much water your semolina absorbs, so just make sure the semolina mixture is wet enough, but not soupy. You’re looking for a porridge-like texture.
As for the milk layer, it is important to mix your ingredients together before putting them on the heat and make sure the flour and cornflour are dissolved to avoid lumps. After putting in your ishta, make sure to whisk it quickly so it is incorporated, and that the pudding regains its thickness before taking it off the heat. A trick I like to do to avoid the milk forming a layer on top is to press my cling film directly on the milk after pouring it into the tray.
One of the best parts about cold desserts, especially in Ramadan or when you have dinner guests, is that they are something you can make ahead of time and put in the fridge until you are ready to serve, meaning you have one less thing to worry about on the day. Also, the longer this sits in the fridge, the better it sets, so it is actually the better choice.
Once you are ready to serve, garnish with crushed pistachios and a small drizzle of cold syrup and enjoy! I love the contrast of the nutty toasted semolina with creamy milk, and I hope you do too!
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange blossom water (optional)
1 ½ tbsp butter
1 ½ cups coarse semolina
1 cup sugar syrup
1 ¼ cup water
1 ½ cups full fat milk
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp sugar + 6 pieces mastic crushed together (mastic is optional)
1 can ishta (170 g)
2 tsp orange blossom water
Pistachios to garnish
- To make the sugar syrup, add the sugar and water to a pot and turn on medium to high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for 3-4 minutes, then add the lemon juice. Leave another 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add in orange blossom water if using. Set aside to cool. This will make more than you may need, so store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.
- To make the base, melt the butter in a pan and add the semolina. Stir constantly on medium-high heat, making sure that all of the semolina browns. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat and add in the sugar syrup and water. You will need to be careful, as the mixture will bubble vigorously at first. Make sure to mix well and that all parts are wet with water and syrup. Cook until the water is absorbed and the mixture thickens.
- Pour into a serving tray or dish and spread evenly. Set aside while you make the milk pudding.
- To make the milk pudding layer, place the milk, flour, cornflour, and sugar (with mastic if using) in a pot and whisk well until the flour and cornflour are dissolved.
- Turn on the heat to medium and whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
- Add in the ishta and whisk quickly to make sure it is incorporated without any lumps.
- Once the mixture has thickened, add the orange blossom water, mix for a minute then remove from heat.
- Pour over the semolina base and spread evenly. Press cling film directly over the milk layer to avoid a skin forming and once warm, not too hot, place in the fridge for 4 hours minimum and up to a day before serving.
- Once you are ready to serve, garnish with pistachios, cut into squares, drizzle each serving with some syrup and enjoy!