If there’s one thing true in life, it’s that there is always room for dessert.
Even after a full meal, we all somehow manage to leave just a little space for dessert, and when it comes to Middle Eastern desserts specifically, you’ll likely discover you have quite a lot of room left for something sweet.
There are numerous popular dishes throughout the Middle East, but these five desserts are truly worth saving room for.
Mahalabia is a classic Middle Eastern dessert. It is a milk-based sweet pudding similar to panna cotta that comes in many flavours. Still, you’ll most often find it flavoured with rose water and other traditional Levantine favourites such as orange blossom and cardamom.
The Mahalabia is topped with a sprinkling of toasted nuts and other treats such as coconut, pomegranate sauce, and raisins to balance the sweet and smooth milky base.
Feteer is a moreish dessert consisting of layer upon layer of sweet pastry dough and plenty of butter or ghee in between.
It’s a highly versatile dessert with layers loaded with sweet or savoury fillings such as coconut, chocolate, cheese, or even meats. Sweet feteers are also often soaked in honey and topped with jam, which is why it’s such a popular treat.
Traditionally, feteer is served for celebrations such as holidays and weddings.
Knafeh, sometimes also known as Kunafeh, is a dessert that ticks all the boxes. It’s the Middle Eastern answer to a cheesecake, and it’s both crunchy and creamy, sweet and rich.
The crust is made with a spun, noodle-like pastry filled with soft white cheese. At Alma’s, we load our Knafeh with gorgeous squeaky halloumi, but you might also find this dish made with nabulsi cheese.
Knafeh is served warm and drizzled with a rich syrup – often orange blossom and rose water – and topped with roasted nuts.
Zainab fingers are a classic Middle Eastern dessert, and you’ll find them in any Arab region.
These ‘fingers’ are made from flour and semolina, stuffed with cream cheese or a similar filling, and packed with flavour, all before deep frying them for a delicious crunchy finish.
The recipe can also include cardamom, saffron, lemon juice, and other traditional flavours. They can be tricky to prepare, so they are often saved for special occasions.
And for those who love nothing more than to finish a meal with ice cream, bastani is a delicious Persian dish that is the Middle East’s version of everyone favourite frozen treat.
Bastani is typically a little more like sorbet than ice cream as it is made from eggs, sugar, milk, and various flavours such as rosewater, saffron, and vanilla. It often also contains nuts such as pistachio for that satisfying crunch.
If you have a sweet tooth, you are in for a treat when you start exploring traditional Middle Eastern desserts.
Begin your discovery here at Alma’s with some of our favourite desserts.
Make a booking online today and prepare to discover not just extra room for your dessert stomach but your new favourite sweet treat.