Umm Ali, Date Cakes, and Mouhalabiye with Pistachios

A book extra for Duty, Desire and the Desert King

This delicious recipe figures into the story...

Umm Ali

  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts etc.)
  • 1/8 sultanas and or chopped dry apricot
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh whipping cream
  1. Bake the puff pastry in a hot oven till done.
  2. When it’s cooled, cut into big pieces and crush in a large bowl.
  3. Chop the nuts and mix with the puff pastry.
  4. Add the sultanas and (or) apricots.
  5. Boil the water and add the powdered milk and sugar to it.
  6. Pour hot milk over the puff pastry. Let it soak for a few minutes.
  7. Whip fresh cream and decorate the top.
  8. Grill in a pre-heated oven for just 30 seconds to brown slightly.


Date Cakes

  • 1 1/3 cups snipped and pitted dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts
  1. Grease and lightly flour a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.
  2. Combine dates and boiling water; cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. In a large mixer bowl, beat shortening for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add sugar and vanilla and beat till fluffy.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each.
  7. Add dry ingredients and cooled un-drained date mixture, beating after each addition.
  8. Stir in nuts.
  9. Spread in pan.
  10. Bake at 350* for 30 to 35 minutes. If desired, serve with whipped cream.


Mouhalabiye with Pistachios

  • 8 cups milk
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water
  • 1/2 cup crushed pistachios
  1. Bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat.
  2. Dissolve the rice flour in 1 1/2 cup of cold water, and then add this to the hot milk, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
  3. Place the mixture back on the heat and keep stirring until it begins to thicken.
  4. Add sugar and keep stirring until the rice looks cooked. (To test, put a small spoon full on a cold plate. If it retains the shape as it cools, it’s cooked.)
  5. Add rose water and orange blossom water and stir for another 2 minutes.
  6. Pour into a shallow dish and decorate with crushed pistachios. Serve cold.