Umm Ali is one of the cherished desserts in the Middle East, that was supposedly originated in Egypt. This delicious bread pudding uses puff pastry or phyllo pastry or some stale bread, milk, nuts and coconut. One can use / omit whatever nuts they prefer in this recipe. The creamy bread pudding, crunchy nuts and sweetened cream - milk base, make this an irresistible treat. I came across this lighter version using croissants at Nestle website and had prepared it some time back, scaling down the ingredients to serve two.
Umm Ali literally means mother of Ali and I came across a couple of legendary stories behind the origin of this delicious dessert. One refers to a woman named, Umm Ali who happened to be the first wife of a Sultan named Aybek. His second wife Shajar al-Durr prevented him from seeing his first wife and son and the king happily obliged. However when he got ready to marry another woman, the second wife got so jealous and raving mad that she killed him and proved that he died in his sleep. The first wife who already had a dispute with Umm Ali, got her brutally killed by Shajar's own servants. And then, she celebrated her victory by preparing this pudding and distributing it among the people of the land.
The second one, a less violent version is that it was invented during the reign of Ottoman Turks. A sultan who was on a hunting trip got hungry and stopped by a small village. Umm Ali, the best cook of the village, filled a pan with the ingredients she had - dried wheat flakes (probably leftovers from some stale bread), nuts, sultanas and coconut. She covered it with milk and sugar, put in the community oven and cooked something akin to this pudding.
Ingredients for 2 servings:
3 croissants (I used small size ones.)
1 cup water
1/4 cup condensed milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 tbsp. each - coconut, pistachios, almonds and raisins
* Preheat the oven to 200 deg C / 400 deg F.
* Combine croissant pieces, coconut, pistachio, almonds and raisins in a ovenproof dish. Or divide the mixture among 2 oven proof bowls if you are planning to serve two, individually.
* Bring condensed milk, water and vanilla to a boil in a sauce pan. Pour it over the croissant mixture and set it aside for five minutes or until the croissant mixture absorbs the maximum of the liquid.
* Place whipping cream in a piping bag and pipe the cream over the mixture. (I didn't use a piping bag and just spooned the cream into the bowls.)
* Place the baking dish in the preheated oven using the grilling part of the oven and grill for 5 minutes or until the cream topping is golden in color. (I turned off the oven and forgot to remove the bowls immediately and hence the darker hue of the cream.)
* Serve it immediately.
This goes to BM #48 for under "1 Cuisine - 3 Dishes" - Arabian Cuisine theme. Check here to see what my fellow marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marath on #48.