Knafeh (or kunefe) is a very special dessert from the Middle East. Ribbons of dough (kaitafi) are fried crispy in a mixture of butter and milk, with a filling of warm mozzarella and pistachios. The whole thing is topped with a sugar syrup with orange blossom. Baklava fans: this one is for you!
For 6 to 8 people:
- 150 grams of kataifi (dough strings) or seviyan
- 200 grams of salted butter + extra, for greasing
- 200 ml of milk
- 2 scoops of mozzarella
- 150 grams of ricotta
- 100 grams of pistachios + extra, for garnish, roughly chopped
- Dried rose buds (optional)
For the syrup:
- 2 to 4 tablespoons of orange blossom water
- 200 grams of sugar
- 200 ml of water
A good knafeh is crispy on the outside, with a warm, creamy cheese filling inside that you can pull threads from. A calorie bomb, but the combination of sweet, savory and crunchy is heavenly.
Kataifi (strands of dough) or seviyan, which is the basis of this dish, can be found in Greek or Turkish specialty stores, at some wholesalers and online. You can also use rose water instead of orange blossom water, if you prefer.
We first became acquainted with knafeh during Amsterdam Food Pitch, when Knafeh Amsterdam served us this special dessert. Very nice to make yourself for a special occasion, for example during the holidays.
Recipe for knafeh
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease a large baking dish with butter.
Make the syrup by bringing the sugar and water to the boil in a saucepan. Reduce gently to a syrup. Add the orange blossom.
Heat the rest of the butter with the milk over low heat. Carefully separate the kataifi dough in a bowl. Pour over the butter mixture and mix (with your hands if necessary – but beware of the hot butter!) Until covered.
Place half of the dough in the baking dish. Break the mozzarella into pieces and divide them over the dough. Follow with some spoonfuls of ricotta. Divide the pistachios on top and finish with the rest of the kaitafi dough.
Bake the knafeh in about 40 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Then immediately pour the warm syrup over the (still warm) knafeh. Top it off with some more pistachio nuts and the dried rose buds. Serve hot, so that you can pull nice strands from the melted mozzarella.
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