Sakizli Muhallebi – Mastic Pudding

I just realized that I have put up only a few dessert recipes. I need to add more. Especially in Ramadan, I crave sweets, after iftar. I am sure there is a medical explanation to this, but when the cravings are here, all I need is sugar, no explanations for me, thanks. I totally love milk-based sweets and they constitute an important role in Ottoman cuisine with their calming and subtle flavors.

Mastic pudding -sakizli muhallebi- derives its name from mastic gum. I know all it reminds you is construction supplies but trust me there is a lot more to this word. Mastic gum, also called damla sakizi (droplet gum) in Turkish, with its exquisite aroma is exuded from the bark of the mastic tree. The tree is native to the Aegean Island of Chios. According to the hearsay, during the Ottoman rule of Chios, mastic was worth its weight in gold. Apart from the culinary uses of its deep, woody and slightly bitter aroma, mastic gum has been used as a medicine since antiquity. It contains antioxidants, and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, it’s also good for your gums and teeth, no wonder my mom used to chew mastic gum once or twice a month. To me, she was a crazy woman back then, for gnawing on such a hard and intensely flavored matter.

Here comes the recipe for a light and gourmet-like dessert:

3 mastic gum droplets/tears, you might wanna refrigerate the mastic gum and then roll glass over the droplets to crush them into a powdery texture.

(1lt ) 5 cups of whole milk

1 cup of sugar, heaped

2 heaped tablespoons of corn/wheat starch

2 heaped tablespoons of plain white flour

100 grs of butter

50 grs of cream (you can substitute this w/ 25 grs of butter)

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan until homogeneous, put on medium-low heat, stir with a heat-proof whisk. Keep stirring and bring to boil. Bring the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, make sure the starchy smell has disappeared,  if not, keep cooking. Be careful not to burn it or the texture will not be nice and even, you’ll end up with lumps and a BBQ-flavored custard. When ready, immediately spoon hot pudding into bowls. Let it cool off a bit on the kitchen counter and then cover and put the bowls into the fridge. Serve in a few hours, keeps for 1-2 days in the fridge.

And the pudding skin… If you’re a hater, press plastic wrap right on the surface of the pudding after pouring it into bowls. I don’t know where, might very well be in Foucault or Kristeva, but I remember reading a piece on the formation of subjectivity in children in both linguistic and cultural terms and the text mentioned the loathing that some people carry towards milk/pudding skin,  the article proposed a whole new understanding of “abjection”.

It said, the skin, neither milk, nor cream/fat, subconsciously shatters our sense of subjectivity, therefore is “rejected” in order to (re?)establish “the self”. The sense of revulsion associated with the abject, the gagging at the sight of milk-skin, the ambiguity of which is a threat to the conventional processes of meaning making, derives from the extremely uncomfortable feeling of not being able to exactly locate and define the “object” in relation to the “subject”, in other words, the self and the other. I know I know, enough!  I don’t know if I am making any sense, got carried away quite a bit. Sorry!

 

Back to the meaning of life, that is, our mastic pudding recipe at the moment:

*** An optional way to add mastic into your dessert is to wrap 4 droplets into a cheesecloth, then keep this in the pudding and remove after cooking. You can easily find mastic gum droplets in Mediterranean, Turkish or Middle-Eastern specialty stores in most countries. It keeps fresh for quite a long time. Ask for “damla sakizi” (pronounced “dumlah suckuzy”) in Turkish shops. You can also purchase mastic flavored sugar paste in jars, if you do so, adjust the sugar content of your dessert accordingly, but I prefer the real thing, unprocessed mastic gum, so to speak. For those of you who happen to like the flavor of mastic gum, I’ll come up with more Ottoman recipes with mastic later, including coffee with mastic gum.


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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hello, I tried this pudding recipe with the mastic gum droplets I bought from a Turkish shop. Turned out great! Smells very unique and exciting!

    • Thanks, good to hear that it turned out nice.

  2. I truly am grateful for what you’re doing here!

  3. This is very fine web site, thank you

  4. When I see a great recipe I go ahead and do a few things:1.Show it to all the relevant friends.2.keep it in all of the common bookmarking websites.3.Be sure to return to the site where I first read the recipe.After reading this post I am really thinking of doing all 3.

    • very nice to hear all this, thank you.

  5. Hello,

    The first picture looks a lot like what I once tried in Cesme. It was not a Muhallebi, its texture was very pudding like (when you take a spoon full, you will have this icicle looking part hanging). They would also typically put a scoop of icecream and some cinnamon.

    Is that the recipe for what you are providing? If not, then I would love to know the name of it and how to create that amazing texture.

    Thank you

    • Hi Nehru :), what you describe sounds very much like either tavuk gogsu or kazandibi. The latter is the caramelized version of the former anyway. The texture originally is achieved with both starch and the chicken breast. Yes, I know it sounds extremely odd but tavukgogsu and kazandibi both contain shredded chicken breast. Now you gave me the inspiration, I’ll make it soon and put up the recipe on here, it’s by far my number one favorite when it comes to milk-based sweets. Cheers ;)

      • Thank you very much for the clarification and looking forward to your post!

        • I just googled imaged it and it is EXACTLY THAT. Thank you!

  6. Hi Elif,
    Ramadan brings with it a desire to cook a wide variety of dishes for your loved ones (especially when you have fussy kids. This light desert is perfect). In search for new ideas I came across your wonderful website. Your detailed explanations and stories that you add to the recipe shows your love for food and makes me want to read more. Thank you for reminding me of some long forgotten traditional recipes and many that I have newly discovered. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Yeşim,
      Comments and messages like yours make me so happy that I wanna continue doing this blog thing forever. Alas, I don’t have as much time as I would like to post on here more often.
      Thanks for your encouraging words. You made my day.
      Cheers

  7. What a glorious range of recipes you have presented–and with such visual appeal too. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen.

    I’m not sure when you may have been in Sydney but Turkish food supplies are quite ample currently. It’s a 70 minute train trip for me, I sometimes travel down to buy bread and coffee and end up with several heavy bags of foodstuffs. Fortunately the best Turkish supermarket is in an area with a cross section of Middle Eastern folk so many of the Arab products are available too.

    I’m not so sure, however, of quoting Foucault to my guests at the dinner table.

    Regards – Ross

    • Hi Ross, thanks a lot. I’d love to hear your feedback once you get to try the recipes.

      I used to go to Auburn to buy some of my foodstuffs, do you go there too? Woolworths was quite good too; celeriac, vine leaves in brine, semolina, polenta, feta, spices etc. were available in my local woolies.
      :) Better leave Foucault for unwanted visitors.

      Cheers

      • Yes Auburn is the place. The “Sydney Morning Herald” ran a piece on the Gima supermarket in Queen Street and I went there. I lived in Auburn 45 years ago and it was the first home of my daughter as a baby. It has changed enormously. There was a trickle of Muslim immigrants then but we Aussies didn’t know much about Islam in those days. My ex wife had a crazy idea of giving her father a sheep for Christmas to mow his lawn and we tethered it in the vacant lot next door. The next house had Muslim residents and it must have been close to Eid because the guy living there used to gaze with desire at our sheep–or perhaps he was wondering what the mad Aussies were up to.

        I’m 99% vegetarian and that’s how I became interested in Turkish/Middle Eastern/Silk Road fare, all of which are generous with non meat recipes.

  8. Still waiting for more sakizli recipes including sakzli kahve!


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