End of Ramadan is always celebrated with wonderful sweet treats at home. My dear cousin, Nihal, made us this delicious milk pudding with mastic gum, as part of these festivities in Istanbul back in August. Delicious, light and fragrant, this milk pudding has been a favorite treat for us all.
In Turkey mastic gum is used in milky desserts, ice cream (a very delicious experience), and, naturally, chewing gum. Originally liquid, mastic gum is sold as hard small translucent lumps and melted in hot milk while making dessert. It can also be grounded with mortar and pestle. As it has a strong flavor, only one or two small lumps will be enough for your cooking.
Mastic is a resin obtained from the mastic tree. In pharmacies and Nature shops it is called “Arabic gum” and “Yemen gum”. In Greece it is known as the “tears of Chios,” being traditionally produced on that Greek island. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. The flavor is bitter at first, but after chewing releases a refreshing, slightly piney or cedar flavor. It contains antioxidants, and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and apparently also good for your gums and teeth. You can get mastic gum at Tulumba, Amazon as well as at Middle Eastern Stores.
I got some lovely rhubarb from my veg&fruit box and made a rhubarb compost to go with the pudding. Rhubarb’s sweet and sour taste really complemented the pudding. Any berry or plum compote would also go well with this pudding.
Have you ever used mastic gum in your cooking? I would love to hear your experience and hope you enjoy this one!
Serves 4 Cooking time: 30 minutes
70gr /2.6oz unsalted butter
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp sugar – you can add a little more if you like it sweeter-
700ml/1 ½ pints whole milk – you can use semi skimmed if you like, though it works best with whole milk-
2 small pieces of mastic gum
1 tbsp finely crushed pistachios to decorate
Bring the milk to the boil in a heavy pan. Reduce the heat, stir in the sugar and the mastic gum. Stir constantly until the mastic gum dissolves. Take it off the heat.
Melt the butter in a heavy pan and stir in the flour, combine well. Add a cup of hot milk mixture to the flour and stir constantly, always in the same direction, to avoid lumps forming . When the mixture thickens add another cup of the hot milk mixture, stir until it thickens. Repeat this process until the hot milk is finished and the mixture thickened.
Pour the pudding into individual bowls and leave to cool. Once cool, place the bowls in the fridge to be chilled.
This is a very easy and versatile rhubarb compote. It is wonderful served with the milk pudding, ice cream or yoghurt. I must say, I even love eating the compote just alone too!
Simply mix your rhubarb (6 sticks would serve generously for 4-6 people), trimmed and cut into 2-3cm chunks, with 1/2 cup of sugar and ¾ cup water in a heavy pan. Cook them over a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until they are soft. Leave a side to cool.
You can layer the rhubarb compote over the chilled milk pudding bowls. Sprinkle the crushed pistachio nuts over them, they are ready for your enjoyment.