Hypnotised by their delicious mahalabeya, Mariam Raymone stuffs her face - like that kid from Matilda - with nearly everything in The Mahalabeya Co. store; from ice cream, to a Nutella Om Ali, to mahalabeya with batata and caramel. She was lucky enough to have her sweatpants on.
Tucked away in a small corner on Maadi's prominent road 9, The Mahalabeya Co. lies between Brunch & Lunch and Lychee. Its exterior was quite charming; an outdoor terrace strewn with sky blue tables and green chairs. As I walked through the door, I was welcomed by the densely sweet smell that can only come from having so much mahalabeya (and treats) in a few square metres. I was going to betray my diet today; I instantly knew it.
As soon as I entered, I noticed colourful sprinkles and chocolate chips nestled in small glass jars on top of the fridge. I peered down into the fridge, and saw the little plastic cups of mahalabeya - with an endless display of variety - and I wanted them all. It was love at first sight.Quickly realising that I wasn’t alone, I looked up and met the owner. Before I could say anything– *word vomit* …marry me? Okay no, I’m lying, but I wanted to say that. We sat down and I was curious to know: why mahalabeya? Out of all the desserts in the world, however, founder Maha Noureldin tells me that, “the idea originated from Turkey, while I was there; I perceived and was fascinated by how they prepare desserts in a new and delightful style. Even the way they present the items to the customers was very creative; this is what inspired me.” I would be inspired too if I were travelling abroad eating delicious treats.As we were sitting, I saw a tray heading towards us. The tiny strawberries hypnotised me and I was entranced by their fresh red colour; all I could think of is how delicious they would taste with the mahalabeya. However, being a person who lives in the chocolate side of town, I tried the Nutella Mix Cream; it had a soft biscuit base with petite M&Ms, Maltesers, KitKat, and a tiny Oreo resting neatly on the top. “What makes us distinctive is that we add uncommon toppings such caramel and fruits; things you don’t usually get with mahalabeya. Nowadays, everything in the market is either a bakery shop or cupcake store; however, we’re completely different,” Noureldin explains.After trying out the Nutella Mix, a tiny rice pudding with batata laced in caramel caught my eye. It looked like a caramel duvet had been nicely placed on top of this white heavenly treat. Was it my ticket out the chocolate world? It was time I moved out. By then, a different little cup of pudding came my way. It was chia pudding infused with honey and coconut milk, with almonds and tiny granola pieces sitting on top. If you don’t want to feel too guilty about what you eat, I guess the chia pudding from their slim menu is a better road to take. Except, for a lot of people, when you are in the presence of such an absurdly decadent desert such as the former, your diet can wait. “Our best sellers are the Nutella banana cream and the rice pudding with fruits or batata,” Noureldin tells me, and I can taste why.Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe their Nutella Om Ali – yes, you read it right. It’s Ramadan all year round, in a bowl - oh, happy day! The first bite was a spoonful of heaven; I could feel the hot Om Ali and Nutella slowly melting in my mouth.
“Other than the Om Ali that we just added, we’re planning on adding konafa - with a twist, of course,” Noureldin reveals. Being the nosey person that I am, I discovered that they’ll create family-sized konafa and Om Ali treats. I know what I’m buying every time I get invited for Iftar in Ramadan now. Of course, that's aside from the rice pudding, creams, and mahalabeya that I'll be sneaking off everyone else's plates.
Photos by: #MO4Network's @MO4Productions
Photography by: Ahmed Najeeb