Mahalabiya is a rose-scented milk pudding that I got to know and taste during an unforgettable family trip: a day and a half snatched from work to give the children their first encounter with the magical city of Venice.

Undoubtedly, the enchantment of the place and the joy of spending a few hours of serenity with loved ones on a beautiful sunny day made the culinary experience even tastier. But lunch at the gluten free restaurant Cucina Mediterranea Frary’s in Venice was a real surprise.

The unexpected ingredient in the preparation is rosewater, which we do not normally use in traditional cooking, so much so that the olfactory experience of this pudding is very strong: one has the impression of having a perfume to wear on the table rather than a dish to taste! This is because we are used to finding rosewater in cosmetics, but actually in the Italian culinary tradition we have many recipes in which orange blossom wateris used, such as the very famous Neapolitan ‘Pastiera’.

As soon as I got back, I immediately wanted to try to reproduce this typical North African dessert and, thanks to the help of a Tunisian friend, I created my own version of rose-scented milk pudding, my Mahalabiya, which my fellow travellers promoted with flying colours!

If you want to enjoy a lactose-free pudding with no added sugar instead, try my Peach pudding with coconut and mint with no added sugar.

Mahalabiya, rose-scented milk pudding

31.13g carbohydrates per 100g of pudding without decorations


  • 400g milk
  • 100g sugar
  • 60g wholemeal rice flour*
  • 6g rosewater*
  • grated coconut*, cinnamon powder*, slivered almonds*, raisins, pistachios

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and gradually add the sugar and rice flour, stirring with a whisk so that no lumps form. Finally, add the rose water and put the pan on the heat.
  2. While continuing to stir, bring the cream to the boil. When it starts to thicken, remove it from the heat and pour it immediately into small single-portion glasses.
  3. Let cool and place in the refrigerator.
  4. When serving, sprinkle the surface with a pinch of grated coconut, a little cinnamon, a few almond slivers, a pinch of chopped pistachios and some raisins.


Version with gluten of Mahalabiya, rose-scented milk pudding

The recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.