In Sydney, the usual spot to satisfy your sweet tooth is the nearest gelato or cake shop. For some unknown reason, Arabic restaurants have not hit peak popularity on Sydney’s dessert scene. Though the dessert options are fairly unique, they are unbelievably delicious and deserve recognition.
We’ll be diving headfirst into the world of Arabic desserts. You’ll learn about their beautiful flavors, interesting concepts, and unique histories. Don’t expect to find baklava or rice pudding on this list, we’re highlighting the lesser-known beauties of the Arabic dessert world.
Knafe with cheese
Knafe is a dessert made from either fine semolina or a noodle-like pastry. It is soaked in a sweet, sugar-based syrup and layered with a piece of soft, white cheese, and then topped with crushed pistachios and cream. It can be flavored with traditional Arabic flavors like orange blossom and rose water which is poured on the pastry during its final minutes of cooking. The dessert is incredibly decadent and sweet. The melted cheese perfectly compliments the crisp pastry making for a dessert that is both complexes in flavor and texture.
Being one of the Arabic cuisine’s most unique desserts, it’s certainly one to put on your must-try list.
Mastic ice-cream or booza
Arabic mastic ice-cream is a uniquely textured ice-cream. Named after its key ingredient, Mastic spice (plant resin), booza is the Arabic name for the ice-cream. Similar in texture to mozzarella cheese, it is traditionally made with milk, cream sugar, sahlab orchid root powder, and of course, mastic. Booza is made by pounding and stretching the base with wooden sticks in a freezer drum rather than the conventional method of churning. Combined with the addition of mastic, this produces a stretchy and chewy type of ice-cream. It is usually flavored with pistachio paste or orange flower water. On its own, it has a subtle floral flavor.
The next time you’re in the mood for gelato, opt for mastic ice-cream instead. Its floral aroma is incredibly charming and you’ll never be bored with its one-of-a-kind texture.
Mhlabiye is the Arabic version of panna cotta, minus the gelatine. It’s orange blossom and rose water infused milk pudding that’s topped with crushed pistachios and served cold. Rice flour, instead of gelatine, is used to thicken the pudding, however, thickening agents vary from country to country. The dessert was allegedly introduced to Arabic cuisine by a Persian cook who served it to an Arab general, Al-Muhallab ibn Abi Sufra. The general liked the dessert so much that he named it after himself, hence Muhallebi, the Arabic name for the milk pudding.
The unique thickening and infusion of the milk pudding make this dessert experience of its own. The next time you feel a hankering for panna cotta, visit your nearby Arabic restaurant and indulge in the flavors of the Middle-East.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, step outside the box. Visit one of the best Arabic restaurants in Sydney – Zahli Modern Middle Eastern. Serving only the best Arabic food drawing from culture, tradition, and the history of Lebanon.