Umm Ali, also called Om Ali (translated to Ali's Mother) is a national dish of Egypt. This scrumptious dessert is a Middle Eastern version of bread pudding and is often served with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top. Unlike American bread puddings, which typically use stale bread that's first soaked in a sweet liquid, Umm Ali uses freshly baked puff pastry for an extra level of deliciousness.
The dish itself has a long history involving conspiracy and generally poor behavior among the ancient rulers. But it has survived after all these centuries as a very popular dessert. In Egypt, the pudding is actually more likely to be made with Buffalo milk instead of condensed milk but the two flavor profiles are similar. Ingredients like the puff pastry, nuts and dairy are always used but beyond that there are variations to be found.
The sweetness can come from honey as opposed to the sweetened condensed milk and the choice of the types of nuts is definitely up to your own taste. The recipe below uses coconut flakes but raisins would actually be more common. Feel free to add a dash of cinnamon, if you like, as well.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Unroll the puff pastry sheets and place them on greased baking sheets or ones lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes. You want the puff pastry to be golden and puffed. Remove from oven but do not turn the oven off because you will be using it in a few minutes at the same temperature.
Break the puff pastry into small pieces (about 1 to 2 inches). Place the broken pieces into a large bowl along with the nuts and coconut flakes.
Be sure that they are mixed well and evenly distributed. Place the nuts and pastry mixture into a greased 9x12 baking dish.
In a saucepan, heat the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and water on medium heat. Allow to cook for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Pour the milk mixture over the puff pastry nut mixture. Pour the cream on top and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.