Layali Lubnan ليالي لبنان

Layali Lubnan, which translates to “Lebanese Nights,” is a delicious dessert famous in Levantine countries like Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. It is semolina pudding topped with thick cream, garnished with crushed pistachios, and served with syrup. This famous Arabic dessert is rich with a complex taste of Arabia coming from mastic, orange blossom water, and rose water.

Layali Lubnan is of perfectly balanced sweetness. The pudding itself is mildly sweet and usually served with syrup. As such, the overall sweetness can be adjusted according to one’s taste by adding the desired amount of syrup. It is also a very suitable dessert for diabetic people, as they can simply enjoy this sweetness without adding the syrup. For the cream layer, some variations of the recipe call for whipping the cream with some confectioner’s sugar. Other variations, which I find more balanced, simply require thick cream without any additions.

Layali Lubnan is usually served in a tray and then cut into smaller individual square-shaped servings, but it may also be served in small bowls or cups.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (96 g) semolina
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon ground mastic
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 1 cup (240 g) heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) coarsely ground pistachio

Syrup:

  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 11/2 cup (240 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rose water

Instructions:

  1. In a pan, pour the milk onto the starch and stir until the starch is melted. Then add the semolina, mastic, and orange blossom water.
  2. Place the mixture on low heat and stir until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into an 8 inch square tray.
  4. Allow it to cool and further thicken before spreading the cream on the surface. Then sprinkle the pistachio on top.
  5. Place tray of Layali Lubnan in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  6. To prepare the syrup, mix the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Stir the mixture well and bring to a boil. Add rose water for flavoring and allow the syrup to simmer and thicken then remove from heat and allow to cool before use.
  7. Cut Layali Lubnan into 6 squares and serve. Pour syrup on top to taste (optional).

Hints:

  • Rose water may be used with or instead of orange blossom water, or can be left out altogether.
  • 3/4 cup of sugar may be added to the pudding mixture for extra sweetness.
  • You can flavor the syrup with anything you prefer, such as orange blossom water, cardamom, cinnamon, or anise. Any extra syrup may be stored refrigerated for use with other types of dessert.
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