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Kunafa

by , featured in Middle Eastern Sweets
Published by Phaidon
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Introduction

This is possibly one of the most ubiquitous pastries across the Middle East, and one of the most intimidating to Western cooks because of the stringy, vermicelli-like kataifi pastry that is used to make it. In fact, kunafa is such a simple dessert to make that it can be on the table within an hour of turning the oven on to heat.

Traditionally, kunafa is made with akawi cheese, a salty, halloumi-like cheese common in the Middle East, but as it requires 48 hours of soaking time to draw out the salt I have suggested the more readily available mozzarella, which gives a similar result.

This is possibly one of the most ubiquitous pastries across the Middle East, and one of the most intimidating to Western cooks because of the stringy, vermicelli-like kataifi pastry that is used to make it. In fact, kunafa is such a simple dessert to make that it can be on the table within an hour of turning the oven on to heat.

Traditionally, kunafa is made with akawi cheese, a salty, halloumi-like cheese common in the Middle East, but as it requires 48 hours of soaking time to draw out the salt I have suggested the more readily available mozzarella, which gives a similar result.

Image of Salma Hage's Kunafa
Photo by Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton

Ingredients

Serves: 4

Metric Cups
  • 200 grams kataifi pastry
  • 80 grams butter (melted)
  • 125 grams mozzarella (grated)
  • 100 grams ricotta cheese
  • 120 grams caster sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • 50 grams raw pistachios (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals
  • 7 ounces kataifi pastry
  • 2¾ ounces butter (melted)
  • 4½ ounces mozzarella (grated)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ⅔ cup superfine sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • ⅓ cup raw pistachios (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons dried rose petals

Please note that nigella.com is not able to accept responsibility for any substitutions that Ocado may need to make as a result of stock availability or otherwise. For any queries, head to ocado.com/customercare.

Feel free to use the “swap” feature and adjust brands and quantities as needed.

Method

Kunafa is a guest recipe by Salma Hage so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F.
  2. Place the pastry in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Use your hands to separate the strands and distribute the butter evenly among them.
  3. Pack half the buttery pastry into the base of a 20-cm (8-inch) round ovenproof pan, making sure some of the pastry rises up the sides. Press gently down all over with the base of a glass to ensure the pastry is packed down tightly.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mozzarella and ricotta. Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry in the pan and cover with the remaining pastry. Pack down again with the base of a glass.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until crisp and golden.
  6. While the pastry is baking, make the syrup. Put the sugar into a saucepan with the lemon zest and juice and 120 ml / ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 8–10 minutes until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency.
  7. Pour the syrup over the pastry as soon as it comes out of the oven, then allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out on to a plate.
  8. Top with the chopped pistachios and rose petals, and cut into 4 slices to serve.
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F.
  2. Place the pastry in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Use your hands to separate the strands and distribute the butter evenly among them.
  3. Pack half the buttery pastry into the base of a 20-cm (8-inch) round ovenproof pan, making sure some of the pastry rises up the sides. Press gently down all over with the base of a glass to ensure the pastry is packed down tightly.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mozzarella and ricotta. Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry in the pan and cover with the remaining pastry. Pack down again with the base of a glass.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until crisp and golden.
  6. While the pastry is baking, make the syrup. Put the sugar into a saucepan with the lemon zest and juice and 120 ml / ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 8–10 minutes until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency.
  7. Pour the syrup over the pastry as soon as it comes out of the oven, then allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out on to a plate.
  8. Top with the chopped pistachios and rose petals, and cut into 4 slices to serve.

Additional Information

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes

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