Knafeh (or kunafa) is the sweet and cheesy ending in any classic Middle Eastern feast. Having various interpretations across Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey, this dessert is traditionally comprised of cheese, spun pastry and rose water sugar syrup baked in a shallow tray, and decorated with crushed pistachios.
A must-have during celebratory occasions such as Christmas dinners or Eid festivities, this iconic Middle Eastern dessert is a favourite among many. In this article, Palestinian chef Salam Dakkak of Bib Gourmand restaurant, Bait Maryam, shares her recipe on this classic dish.
Ingredients and Preparation (Two people)
1000 g of Akkawi Cheese
1100 g of Mozzarella Cheese
Start by preparing the cheese mixture. First, grate the akkawi cheese and soak it in water to release the salty taste. Repeat the process until the salty taste disappears. Mix the washed and drained akkawi cheese with mozzarella, and keep the mixture chilled.
Rose Water Sugar Syrup:
1000 g of White Sugar
500 ml of Water
20 ml of Orange Blossom Water
20 ml of Rose Water
20 g of Lemon
In a pot, mix in water and sugar, then stir to melt on low fire. Add a lemon wedge to it and let it boil until mixture combines and starts getting thicker. Then, add in the rose water and orange blossom water, and switch off the fire. Keep it aside to let it cool down.
150 g of Knafeh Dough
120 g of the Cheese Mixture
60 ml of Sugar Syrup
10 g of Pistachio
40 ml of Vegetarian Ghee
20 ml of Sunflower Oil
In a pot, melt the vegetarian ghee and mix it with sunflower oil. Once mixed, paint the baking tray or plate with the oil mixture. Spread the knafeh dough on the base of the tray in a straight way and not over each other. Spread some oil mix on it, then put the cheese mixture in the middle. Turn the edges of the dough to cover the cheese from the top and make sure that there are no holes. Drizzle a little oil mixture on top and bake on 180'C for 8 minutes. Once done, drizzle the sugar syrup on top with grinded pistachio. Serve hot!
Illustration image source: Bait Maryam