Friday, September 22, 2006

Moghrabieh Custard with Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup

Alanna from A Veggie Venture is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday and she settled on a most surprising theme. Well, the theme is a surprise inside - and it had me seeking diving intervention in the form of Charlie Trotter's Desserts. It's in the pages of this book that I found the light - a dessert using two surprising ingredients, Kaffir Lime Leaf and Moghrabieh.

kaffir lime leaf and moghrabieh© by haalo

I've talked about Kaffir Lime Leaf before - it's a leaf from the Kaffir Lime Tree, used in Thai cooking, it imparts citrus notes. Moghrabieh (or Mograbieh) is offer labelled large couscous but this isn't quite correct - made with semolina and flour, it's closer to being a pasta. The original recipe calls for Israeli Couscous - from research it seems these two are pretty much interchangeable.

When given these two ingredients, 99.99% of the time if you guessed they went into a savoury dish you'd be right but Charlie Trotter performs a bit of magic - the moghrabieh is cooked in a mix of orange juice and water until softened and then combined in rich custard. With the use of gelatine, the grains become suspended in this pillow of cream. Before serving it's ringed with strawberry slices and a drizzle of a most amazing kaffir lime syrup to produce his crowning glory

moghrabieh Custard with Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup© by Haalo

Moghrabieh Custard with Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup

½ cup Moghrabieh (or Israeli couscous)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
½ cup caster sugar
2 sheets gelatine (I used Titanium grade)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons sugar syrup
1½ tablespoons lime juice
1 kaffir lime leaf, stem removed and sliced finely
strawberry slices, strawberry cubes for garnish

To make custard:
Place the couscous, orange juice, water and ¼ cup of the sugar into a saucepan and simmer - stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook for at least 30 minutes, it could take up to an hour until the couscous is tender. Add more water if too much liquid has evaporated before the couscous has cooked.

Place cold water into a shallow bowl and add the sheets of gelatine - let this sit until it has softened.

Place the cream, milk and remaining ¼ cup of sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat and stir to combine - cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

Take the gelatine from the water - squeeze out the excess water and place into the cream mixture - stir until melted before placing in an ice water bath. Continue to stir until chilled then fold this through the couscous mixture. Place this in the ice water bath and continue to cool, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick enough the suspend the couscous.

Note: to maximise cooling and quicken the setting , place this mixture into a metal bowl - combined with the ice water bath, this optimises the cooling reaction.

Divide this mixture into 6 2½ inch x 1½ inch rings - I placed the rings on a board then lined them with plastic wrap before spooning in the mixture. Then I placed a circle of baking paper over the tops before folding over the overhanging wrap to seal each ring.

Place this in the fridge to set - I left these overnight.

To make the Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup:
Use a simple syrup made from equal parts of sugar and water.

Place the simple syrup and lime juice into a small saucepan and slowly heat until warmed, about 5 minutes. Pour this into a blender with the shredded lime leaf and blend until the mixture looks speckled by the leaf.

To assemble:

The original recipe calls for oven-dried strawberries. I did do this but, I hate to disagree with Charlie, I preferred fresh strawberries - they seemed more in line with the texture and taste of the dessert and really stood out when combined with the kaffir lime leaf syrup. Charlie also presents the strawberry garnish in the form Parisienne balls - this is one tool I don't have in my kitchen - so I've opted for a small dice instead.

Place the ring in the centre of the plate and unmold. Press slivers of fresh strawberry around the base to form a crown.

Mix a tiny dice of strawberries into the syrup and drizzle this around the crown.

Moghrabieh Custard with Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup© by Haalo

So there you have it - two surprising ingredients in one delicious dessert.

The syrup has to be one the best combinations I've had and I can see it being added to watermelon juice this summer to provide a sweet tang. The custard is soft and creamy, everything you want custard to be and the Moghrabieh are like pearls of texture.

It looks great and it tastes great - what else can you ask for?


  1. So simple yet so chic! I knew to expect something especially surprising from you, Haalo, but this is more than a little special! It's a lovely choice for Surprise Inside, I do thank you for contributing ... look for the round-up over the weekend.

  2. Definetely looks great and sounds fantastic - I saw the ingredients and must admit I was curious as to how it would translate! This would be a dessert worth having in any restaurant!

  3. Thanks so much Alanna - it was a great theme and certainly got me thinking and finally had an opportunity to put those Charlie Trotter books to work and not just drool over the photos

    Thanks Ellie - in the book, Charlie suggests using rice as a substitute for the Moghrabieh which would make it a little less unusual - the kaffir lime leaf syrup really is special and shows how something simple can really make a dish.

  4. Trotter has such a way of making things that you would think not go together...go together. Love him.
    Your dish looks great.

  5. Wow, that looks and sounds very interesting, I'd love to try some. I've never heard of moghrahbieh, but you can't go wrong with Charlie Trotter.

  6. Wow! Looks wonderful!


  7. great SHF entry! I love it =) lovely pictures plus very nice combination of flavours...

  8. Thanks Peabody - Trotter has some amazing food and his cookbooks are food porn.

    Thanks Brilynn - it's hard to go wrong if you follow Trotter.

    Thanks Paz!

    Thanks Julia - the flavours really are key here.

  9. That look so pillowy and creamy---makes me want to dive right in!

  10. Hi Josie - what a lovely description!

  11. it's been a year since i first saw this recipe and i'm still amazed and inspired.

  12. Thank you Anna that is so lovely of you but this recipe is really quite simple, the hardest part was getting over the fact that it's a charlie trotter recipe.


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