The faludhaj from The Sweets of Araby is indeed very, very sweet, like concentrated honey, which is essentially what it is. The sesame oil and toasted ground almonds contribute a nice roasted flavor, which adds dimension; still, I couldn’t imagine eating more than a couple small spoonfuls of this. My main problem, though, was with the consistency. When my cornstarch mixture came to a boil, some of it seized up into clumps, which I hoped would dissolve as the pudding heated and thickened, but no matter how much I whisked and stirred, I was left with some hard little lumps of cornstarch in the end. In general, I could’ve used some more detailed instructions for this recipe: some advice or warning about boiling cornstarch, maybe, and some indication of how much time the recipe would take (it took much longer for the pudding to thicken than I had anticipated, and I still wasn’t sure when it was done).

Faludhaj from The Sweets of Araby: Enchanting Recipes from the Tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights by Leila Salloum Elias and Muna Salloum (Countryman Press, June)

Serves 4 to 6


4 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup cold water with pinch of saffron

1 cup honey

1 tablespoon light sesame oil

4 tablespoons toasted ground almonds

Place the cornstarch mixture in a saucepan. Over medium-low heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey. Return to low heat and constantly stir until the mixture thickens, similar to a thick pudding. Stir in the oil and blend well, then remove from the heat. Stir in the almonds.

Place the faludhaj on a serving plate or in individual bowls and refrigerate until ready to serve.