Almond Milk Malabi 

Ice from Paradise 

As a sol­dier on the Egypt­ian fron­tier in the Sinai Penin­su­la, I had the priv­i­lege to view the remains of a Greek tem­ple locat­ed amidst salt marsh­es. The pud­ding described in this recipe is an opaque white and indeed resem­bles the salt marsh­es. Those marsh­es or mud gave the City of Pelu­si­um, or The City of Mud, its ancient name, and con­se­quent­ly this dessert’s orig­i­nal name, balouza, the Ara­bic pro­nun­ci­a­tion of Pelusium. 

I was always intrigued by the way the ancient world is por­trayed in hid­den gems in our cur­rent, every­day life. The tell-tale signs remain in the names of places, foods, and of every­day objects, but for most peo­ple the ori­gin is long for­got­ten. Balouza is a per­fect example. 

This dessert was adapt­ed from a balouza recipe by Clau­dia Roden. Balouza (aka Pelu­si­um, the City of Mud) was an ancient Greek city on the east­ern bank of the Nile, where linen (linum Pelu­si­acum) was the prin­ci­pal prod­uct. The word blouse is derived from the Ara­bic pro­nun­ci­a­tion of the Pelu­sian shirt. 

It is also men­tioned in the Mish­na that the high priest wore pilusin — the best linen. One day I heard a shout in the din­ing room of the restau­rant, Yaacht behasht! An Amer­i­can of Per­sian descent was call­ing out the Per­sian name in tears. She said it brought back the mem­o­ry of her grand­moth­er who used to pre­pare this dessert. In Per­sian, it is called ice from par­adise. 

Serves 6 

For the pudding: 

12 cup / 60 g cornstarch 

3 cups / 750 ml almond milk (store bought or see recipe, page 222

12 cup / 120 g sugar 

3 drops rose water 

6 tbsp / 90 ml water 

For the syrup: 

2/3 cup / 140 ml water 

3/4 cup / 140 g sugar 

3/4 cup dried hibis­cus flow­ers, can be replaced with straw­ber­ry coulis 

To make the pudding: 

Com­bine the corn­starch with 6 3/4 tbsp / 100 ml of the almond milk and stir to a smooth paste. Pour the remain­ing almond milk into a medi­um saucepan and add the sug­ar, rose water, and water. Sim­mer on low heat and whisk to dis­solve the sug­ar. Add the corn­starch mix­ture to the saucepan while stir­ring con­stant­ly, and bring to a boil. The mix­ture should thick­en to a point that when a spoon is dipped, the pud­ding coat clings on. Remove from heat and pour into dessert cups. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

To make the syrup: 

Place the water, sug­ar, and hibis­cus flow­ers in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil while stir­ring to dis­solve the sug­ar. Reduce heat and cook for about 5 min­utes. Chill and pass through a sieve. To serve, driz­zle the syrup on top of the pudding.

Pho­to by Or Doga

Moshe Bas­son is an inter­na­tion­al­ly-renowned Mas­ter Chef spe­cial­iz­ing in Mod­ern Israeli-Bib­li­cal cui­sine. Bas­son is the founder of The Euca­lyp­tus restau­rant in Jerusalem and an Israeli food his­to­ri­an. Uti­liz­ing his school­ing in agri­cul­ture and pas­sion for study­ing ancient script, Bas­son has incor­po­rat­ed into the restaurant’s kosher menu many dish­es that are based on foods eat­en for many cen­turies in this region.