Semolina Pudding

5 from 5 votes

"Layali Lubnan," a Lebanese semolina pudding, is a deliciously creamy and fragrant dessert with a crunchy pistachio topping.

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Semolina pudding, also known as layali lubnan, is an irresistible Middle Eastern dessert from Lebanon. This creamy and sweet pudding is made from semolina, milk, sugar, and a touch of orange blossom water. Topped with ashta, crushed pistachios, and simple syrup, it offers a delightful crunch and nutty flavor. Perfect for both celebrations and casual gatherings, this dessert will impress your guests and leave them wanting more.

A piece of pudding with chopped pistachios on a plate with simple syrup being poured over from a small clear pitcher.
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You can really take this Lebanese semolina pudding over the top by drizzling on simple syrup.  This easy addition not only adds an extra layer of sweetness but also intensifies the delicious flavors of the dessert. With just a handful of ingredients and some classic topping additions, you’ll love how flavorful and creamy semolina pudding is.

Why you’ll love semolina pudding with ashta

  • Made with just 4 simple ingredients. With just a handful of ingredients, semolina pudding is an easy and fuss-free dessert that can be made in a single pot. As the milk and semolina cook together, they thicken into a smooth and creamy pudding-like consistency. The addition of sugar provides sweetness, while the orange blossom water infuses the dessert with a delightful floral aroma that is both refreshing and exotic.
  • A delicious version of a classic Lebanese Night’s dessert. Lebanese Nights is a luxurious dessert that originates from Lebanon and is commonly served during special occasions like Ramadan. It’s made with layers of semolina pudding, ashta cream, and a topping of crisp phyllo dough soaked in sugar syrup, and topped with crushed pistachios. Layali Lubnan, on the other hand, is a version that omits the syrup-soaked phyllo shreds and is garnished with crushed pistachios alone.
  • Easy to customize. Semolina pudding, or Layali Lubnan, is highly adaptable and can be easily customized to suit individual preferences. For instance, you can adjust the sweetness level of the pudding or swap the crushed pistachios for other nuts like almonds or walnuts. You can also use rose water instead of orange blossom water.

Ingredients to make this traditional semolina pudding

  • Milk: Whole milk is best because it is higher and fat resulting in a richer pudding. You can try it with lower-fat milk, but it may alter the flavor.
  • Semolina: Fine semolina is preferred in semolina pudding for its smooth texture and quick cooking time. Coarser semolina can result in a gritty texture and take longer to cook.
  • Sugar: Cane sugar is the preferred choice in this recipe, but any type of granulated sugar can be used.
  • Orange blossom water: A common Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredient that adds a distinct floral aroma and flavor. You could also use rose water. 

Toppings

  • Ashta: As my ashta recipe yields a large quantity, it’s ideal for using as a topping in various recipes. Since it requires some time to prepare, it’s recommended to start making the ashta ahead of time if you plan to make it from scratch.
  • Pistachios: Crushed pistachios add a nutty crunch but also a beautiful green appearance. You can buy them already crushed or pop whole-shelled pistachios in a food processor and pulse them a few times until crumbly.
  • Simple syrup: Semolina pudding isn’t overly sweet, so a drizzle of simple syrup on top allows you to adjust the sweetness how you like. You can even add a little extra orange blossom water to it for a more aromatic addition to match the pudding’s flavor.

How to make this easy Lebanese semolina pudding

Making semolina pudding is relatively easy, and it only requires a few ingredients and simple steps. In this dessert, semolina is cooked in milk until it thickens and becomes creamy, then it’s sweetened with sugar and flavored with spices or extracts of your choice.

Semolina pudding layer

  1. Whisk together the semolina and sugar in a pot and continue to stir frequently while heating. The mixture should be fully dissolved and creamy.
  2. After removing the pot from the heat, stir in the orange blossom water.
2 image collage making pudding in a pot: 1- whisking together milk, semolina, and sugar, 2- Orange blossom water being poured into creamy mixture.

Layering and topping pudding

  1. Transfer the semolina pudding to a dish and use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread the mixture to an even layer.
  2. Press a plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and allow it to come to room temperature.
  3. Remove the plastic wrap from the semolina pudding, and spoon the ashta on top of the pudding.
  4. Sprinkle the top with an even layer of pistachios before covering and transferring it to the fridge to cool and set.
4 image collage of preparing recipe in a baking dish: 1- mixture poured into dish, 2- plastic wrap over it and pressed down on the surface, ashta spread on top, 4- finely chopped nuts spread over top.

Tips for making the best Layali Lubnan

  • Whisk constantly. First, start by adding the semolina to cold milk and stir continuously to prevent lumps from forming. Continue whisking throughout the cooking process until the semolina is fully dissolved and the pudding is no longer grainy.
  • Cook slowly. To avoid scorching and provide the best flavor, it’s important to cook the semolina pudding over low heat and avoid boiling the milk.
  • Add the floral water before setting. Orange blossom water is a highly aromatic ingredient that can easily evaporate when exposed to high heat. Adding it after the pudding has been removed from heat ensures that its subtle flavor is not lost during the cooking process.
  • Cover with plastic wrap. While the pudding is cooling, place plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming on top. Then, you can remove it to the top with the ashta when ready. If you’re not adding the cream, leave the plastic on until ready to serve.
  • Chill before serving. Chill the pudding for at least two hours before serving to firm it up, as it will still be soft even after cooling to room temperature. This will help the pudding hold its shape and make it easier to cut into squares. It’s also so much tastier when cool.
  • Switch the nuts: Instead of crushed pistachios, you can use chopped almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts. You can also add raisins or other dried fruits for extra texture and flavor.
  • Add spices: You can add a pinch of ground cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg to the semolina pudding for a warm and aromatic flavor.
  • Swap the aromatics. Rose water is a substitute for orange blossom water, and rose petals can be added for decoration. If you can’t find either of these floral essences, you could also use a small amount of vanilla or almond extract. 
  • Make it dairy free. For a dairy-free semolina pudding, you can substitute whole milk with a combination of fatty plant milk and light plant milk. For example, using a 2 to 1 ratio of almond milk and full-fat coconut milk can provide the fat and liquid needed to achieve a similar consistency. Although the flavor and texture may differ slightly, you can still expect a deliciously creamy and satisfying semolina pudding.
  • Toppings: Instead of the ashta, you can use whipped cream or ricotta. You can also top semolina pudding with fresh fruits or chocolate shavings. Be creative and experiment with different toppings to suit your taste preference.
Semolina Pudding with ashta in baking dish garnished with finely chopped pistachios.

How to store semolina pudding with ashta and pistachios

To store semolina pudding, cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid and place it in the refrigerator.

How long will semolina pudding last in the fridge?

You can store the pudding for up to 3-4 days.

Can i freeze milk pudding?

Freezing semolina pudding is not recommended as it can alter the texture and consistency of the pudding, causing the pudding to become grainy and lose its smooth, creamy texture. Additionally, when the pudding thaws, the water content may separate from the pudding, resulting in a less desirable texture. It is best to store semolina pudding in the refrigerator.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this dessert ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this dessert ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Just be sure to cover it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent the pudding from drying out. Adding the ashta and pistachios will also help.

Can I use instant semolina for this recipe?

Instant semolina may alter the texture and flavor of the pudding, so it’s best to use fine semolina for this recipe.

Can I make this dessert without ashta?

Yes, you can skip the ashta layer and make a simple semolina pudding topped with crushed pistachios for a delicious and easy-to-make dessert.

Can I use honey instead of sugar for this recipe?

Yes, you can use honey instead of sugar, but keep in mind that honey has a distinct flavor that may alter the taste of the dessert. It would be a delicious topping instead of the simple syrup, too.

Semolina Pudding topped with pistachios in a rectangular baking dish cut into 12 squares with a spatula lifting a piece out.

Layali Lubnan, or Lebanese semolina pudding, is a delicious and indulgent dessert that is perfect for special occasions or as a sweet treat after a weeknight meal. Made with a few simple ingredients, this dessert is easy to prepare and can be customized to suit different tastes. While it’s important to follow some tips for making the perfect semolina pudding, the end result is always worth it: a creamy, smooth, and fragrant dessert that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

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Semolina Pudding (Layali Lubnan)

"Layali Lubnan," a Lebanese semolina pudding, is a deliciously creamy and fragrant dessert with a crunchy pistachio topping.
5 from 5 votes
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Calories 290
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
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Ingredients
  

Semolina Pudding Layer

Toppings

  • 1 cup ashta
  • 1 cup pistachios chopped finely
  • ½ cup simple syrup

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place the milk, semolina and sugar. Stir frequently until the mixture is fully dissolved and creamy, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let the milk boil. Stir in the orange blossom water.
  • Transfer the semolina pudding to an 8×11 baking dish and use the back of a spoon or spatula to spread the mixture to an even layer. Press a plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and allow it to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the semolina pudding, spoon the ashta on top of the pudding and sprinkle with pistachios all over. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and allow the pudding to cool completely in the fridge, at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to serve, cut the pudding into 12 squares and drizzle each serving with simple syrup.

Notes

Storage: Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid and place it in the refrigerator, storing up to 3-4 days.
Toppings: Instead of the ashta, you can use whipped cream or ricotta. You can also top semolina pudding with fresh fruits or chocolate shavings. Be creative and experiment with different toppings to suit your taste preference.
Swap the aromatics. Rose water is a substitute for orange blossom water and rose petals can be added for decoration. If you can’t find either of these floral essences, you could also use a small amount of vanilla or almond extract.
Switch the nuts: Instead of crushed pistachios, you can use chopped almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts. You can also add raisins or other dried fruits for extra texture and flavor.
Add spices: You can add a pinch of ground cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg to the semolina pudding for a warm and aromatic flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 290kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 71mg, Potassium: 380mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 29g, Vitamin A: 306IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 215mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Lebanese
Course: Dessert

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