Aish al saraya is a beautiful Middle Eastern dessert consisting of a base of rose water and orange blossom water scented sweetened breadcrumbs, topped with qishta (Sort of like an Arabic clotted cream) and garnished with pistachios. It’s absolutely heavenly, and along with kunafa, my favorite Middle Eastern dessert of all time. It’s also much easier to make than you might expect, and my mom’s recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. Thanks for sharing, mom!
The cream- the Aish Al Saraya topping
What I love so much about the cream in this recipe is that it tastes like authentic Arabic qishta- which is actually very hard to make and hard to find. The secret is in the soft bread that’s mixed in with the heavy cream and milk mixture. It mimics that perfect clotted textured consistency of authentic qishta. Just a touch of cornstarch to help thicken, and fragrant rose and orange blossom water subtly coming through. If you know Turkish kaymak, you get the idea. You’ll need to whisk quite a bit, so roll up those sleeves and get to work. Trust me, it’s worth it.
The sweetened breadcrumbs- our Aish Al Saraya base
This part actually comes together much faster than the cream topping. You take dried rusks (I find these in the bakery section of most supermarkets) and process them into fine crumbs. You want these to be unsweetened because they’ll be added to a sugar syrup. Keep these aside while you make a simple sugar syrup with sugar and water, then add the breadcrumbs till you get the correct consistency. It’ll be like wet sand. Stir in a LOT of rose water and orange blossom water. I was initially scared by the amount and put just half, tasted it, then added the remaining half. Mom was right, I shouldn’t have doubted her recipe.
Some people make this by just layering untoasted bread in a serving platter and topping with syrup and cream, but I prefer the toasted breadcrumbs so much more. They ends up tasting almost like toffee. It’s really hard to describe, but you’ll get it once you taste this.
Please let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or if you end up making this, I’d be delighted to know how it turns out!
Aish Al Saraya
For the qishta (cream):
- 6 slices white bread, crust removed
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water
For the sweetened breadcrumbs:
- 2 bags dry unsweetened rusks (qirshala) 320 g total
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup rose water
- 1/2 cup orange blossom water
For the garnish:
- handful roughly chopped pistachios
- sprinkle of dried rose petals if desired
- rose petal jam if desired
For the cream:
- Place the soft white bread in food processor and process until it turns into soft crumbs.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the heavy cream, the milk, the cornstarch, the rose water and the orange blossom water in a saucepan. Over low heat, whisk constantly until mixture thickens into a cream like texture. This may take 7-10 minutes.
- Cool the cream until it reaches room temperature, then store in the fridge.
For the sweetened breadcrumbs:
- Use a food processor to process the dry rusks into crumbs. Set aside.
- Stir together the sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a boil. It doesn't need to thicken too much.
- Add the dry breadcrumbs, stir to combine, then remove from heat and stir in the rose water and the orange blossom water.
To assemble and garnish:
- Assemble by spreading the breadcrumb mixture into your serving platter, and topping with the chilled cream. Garnish with pistachios and rose petals and clumps of rose petal jam, or however you like!