Kunafah is a Middle-Eastern dessert. A cheese-based pastry, made with crispy kataifi dough, salty akawie cheese, and gooey ricotta; all soaked in a rosewater syrup for a sweet and floral finish. It’s popular all over the Middle East, and is a staple dessert at special events (with good reason!).
Happy Ramadan! (…And Eid Mubarak too!)
For those of you not aware, we’re approaching the last few days of the month of Ramadan where Muslims all over the world abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours to better understand piety and humility, purify the soul, refocus attention to God, and practice self-discipline. And if you’re reading this during Eid, Eid Mubarak!
And if you’re reading this at any other time of the year, howdy!
Can I be honest with you, bestie? There’s something that’s been worrying me for a few years now. I worry that as modern life gets faster and simpler, we’ll forget how to slow down enough to make beautiful foods filled with traditions, history, and flavour.
This Kunafah recipe takes close to 8 hours to make from start to finish (don’t run away! It’s mostly waiting time!). I find that a little daunting, and honestly, I really shouldn’t. And neither should you.
So, let’s make it together.
(That said, this is likely an unfamiliar recipe for many people outside of the Middle East, so I’d recommend having a read of my How to Read a Recipe Post (Properly) post before you start.)
That said, if you want to go all out and prepare a delicious Middle Eastern savoury recipe too, check out this Shakshuka. It’s sure to elicit at least 4 oohs, and 6 ahh’s!
What is Kunafah / Kunafa?
Kunafah (also spelled, kunafa, knafeh, kanafeh) is a Middle Eastern/Arab dessert made with a shredded pastry dough (kataifi), soaked in a sweet syrup (often infused with rose water), and layered upon with cheese and other toppings.
Kataifi is a type of pastry dough commonly used in the Middle East – it is made of shredded strands of phyllo dough. (You can find it in the freezer section of most larger grocery stores/supermarkets.)
Ready to eat Kunafah doesn’t last very long, 2-4 days before it starts to go stale and dry.
Though it is originally a Middle Eastern dish, the dish has long been a part of Greek, and Balkan food histories.
Akawie (also spelled, akkawi) is a white brine cheese, originating in the Middle East. It has a salty-flavour, which is occasionally watered-down prior to baking.
There’s no special equipment required for this recipe. But do take a look through my Shop in case you see anything you like!
Have you ever tried kunafah? Or any Arabian desserts? Comment below, and let me know your favourite!Print
Kunafah is a cheese-based pastry, made with crispy kataifi dough, akawie cheese, and gooey ricotta; all soaked in a rosewater syrup for a sweet finish.
- 500g Akawie Soft Cheese
- 1 pkg (454 g) Frozen Arz Kataifi Shredded Dough, thawed
- 3/4 cup (175 mL) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) ricotta cheese
- 1-½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp (5 mL) Arz Rose Water
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) raw unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped
- Place akawie cheese in large bowl; add enough cold water to cover. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate 6 to 12 hours, changing water at least once. Drain; rinse well. Pat dry. Finely grate akawie cheese on small holes of box grater; set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Place kataifi in separate large bowl; using fingers, separate and loosen strands. Drizzle with butter; toss to coat. Transfer half of the kataifi to greased 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with 2-inch (5 cm) high sides, pressing gently into bottom of pan.
- Sprinkle akawie cheese over top, spreading evenly. Spread ricotta evenly over top. Add remaining kataifi, spreading evenly and pressing gently into pan. Bake until golden, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool on rack 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring sugar, lemon juice and 1 cup water to a boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool to room temperature. Stir in rose water. Set aside.
- Run thin knife around edge of pastry to release from pan. Invert serving platter over top of pastry; turn pan upside down onto platter. Carefully lift away pan. Sprinkle pastry with pistachios. Drizzle three-quarters of the sugar mixture over top. Let stand until absorbed, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining sugar mixture. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.
Akawie cheese is brined, so it’s quite salty. Soaking the cheese in water helps to remove some of the salt; the longer you soak it, the less salty the kunafa will be.
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This post was originally a sponsored post for No Frills® and Real Canadian Superstores®. They were even kind enough to provide this Kanafeh recipe! All opinions expressed were my own.