Omm Ali أم علي


Also spelled as Umm Ali.

Omm Ali أم علي means "Mother of Ali". This dish has some unsavory history.

In Arab countries, it is customary to call a person as "Father of X" (Abu X, or Abou X), X usually being the name of the eldest son.

There are different versions for why this dish was named Omm Ali.

The version popular with British tourists is that Omm Ali is actually Miss O'Malley, an Irish woman who was one of Khedive Ismail's mistresses. She made bread pudding for the Khedive for a Christmas dinner. This version is unlikely since O'Malley is merely a corruption of the Arabic أم علي and lacks the ع Ain sound.

The other version is that Omm Ali was the wife of a ruler from the Ayyubid dynasty. Her rival Shagaret El Dorr (شجرة الدر Tree of Pearls) was the second wife of that ruler. After his death, Shagaret El Dorr arranged for Om Ali to be murdered by her servants, and to celebrate, she distributed bread with milk and honey.

Shagaret El Dorr ruled Egypt for some time in the name of her husband, and would later be murdered in a conspiracy too.

This became a dish known as Om Ali.

Servings: 10

Preparation Time: 1 hours


1/4 kg. phyllo Pastry sheets.
1/4 kg. sugar.
1 1/2 kg. milk.
1 cup ghee or butter
Nuts & raisins.

Cooking Instructions

Cut and shape the phyllo pastry sheets into pieces, then deep fry one after another lifting it right away.
Place it on an absorbing napkin to remove extra grease.
Put half the quantity of phyllo pastry sheets in a baking pan, then add the nuts and raisins.
Cover with the remaining phyllo pastry sheets.
Heat the milk and add sugar, then pour it on top of the baking pan until the pastry absorbs it.
Leave for 1/4 an hour approx, then put in oven on medium heat till surface is golden brown.
Optionally add milk before removing pan out of the oven.



Bake the puff pastry instead

It is much easier and healthier to just make the puff pastry instead of frying it. Bake in a high heat oven until it fully puffs up and slightly browns. Then let slightly cool and break into pieces and place into the baking pan before covering with the milk mixture above.

Instead of browning the completed dessert in the oven at the end, my mom just spreads a can of thick cream (ishta) on the top and decorates with chopped pistachio. Very yummy!

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