Ashta is a sweet cream product often compared to clotted cream that is popular in Lebanon and many other countries in the Middle East. The traditional method of making Ashta is by cooking milk until it curdles and separates. The milk is then drained so that the lumpy curds can be collected.
The curds are then cooked with cream, sugar, corn flour and flavorings, stirring constantly until a thick custard like cream forms. The cream is chilled before using.
Since traditional methods are considered difficult, todays’ methods have evolved to make Ashta easier to make, less time consuming and cheaper. Some recipes speed up the milk curdling step by adding an acidic agent like lemon juice which causes the milk to separate.
Other recipes skip curdling the milk entirely. Instead, the milk is cooked along with all the other ingredients until the mixture thickens. The first forms of Ashta did not contain any cream and used bread to thicken the milk.
Ashta is eaten as is, with sprinkling of pistachios and sometimes honey which is popular for breakfast when paired with bread. Other popular ways to eat ashta is as a filling for numerous desserts and as a topping for fruit.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Ashta is eaten not just in Lebanon, but all over the Middle East. It’s believed to have originally begun as a method to preserve raw milk. By removing the liquid from the milk, microorganisms that cause food spoilage are reduced.
Lebanese Ashta Recipe
- Whole milk – 750 ml
- Lemon juice – 3 tbsp
- Cornstarch– 3 tbsp
- Whole milk – 250 ml
- Heavy cream – 250 ml
- Sugar – 2 tbsp
- Salted butter – 60 g
- Orange blossom water or rose water – 1 tbsp
- Heat the milk in a large saucepan on medium heat until it simmers.
- Add the lemon juice and stir well to encourage curdling. Leave the milk on medium heat to allow it to finish curdling.
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.
- Strain the curdled milk over the cheesecloth to catch the curds. Leave to drain.
- Mix the cornstrach and a little of the milk into a paste in a small bowl.
- Rinse the saucepan and put it back on medium heat and pour the rest of the milk and cream in.
- Add sugar and salted butter and stir to mix.
- Heat the mix until it is simmering, stirring continuosly to reduce lumps.
- Once simmering, lower the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until the mix is very thick. This will take about 3 – 4 minutes, depending on your heat.
- Take it off the heat and transfer to a large bowl and let it to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add in the strained curds and whisk well.
- Stir in the chosen flavoring, or split the cream between two bowls and flavor one with ½ tbsp rose water and the other with ½ tbsp orange blossom water.
- Let cool and refridgerate for a couple hours before using.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 117mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 5g