Mozzarella Cheese Kunafa
A not-so-authenic cheese kunafa made with everyone’s favorite mozzarella cheese! Crunchy shredded pastry filled with an ooey gooey mixture of mozzarella and a secret ingredient that keeps the cheese from hardening even after it cools. A rose and orange blossom water scented sugar syrup, sweetens and perfumes this scrumptious Middle Eastern favorite. Plus! Recipe VIDEO at the end of the post.
Nope! This is not pizza you’re looking at!
It’s dessert! The best of dessert. The second of 10 Middle Eastern desserts that I’ve prepared for you in spirit of the month of Ramadan. Have you seen the first? Its not to be missed!
This is KING!
Of all the Middle Eastern desserts, Kunafa rules all. It’s royalty. It’s supreme.
The most loved. The most popular. The most celebrated. The most versatile and dare I say the most delicious?
With its dozens and dozens of fillings, shapes and forms, there’s just nothing like it.
From bite-sized ringlets, to enormous rounds, from nut fillings, silky puddings, cloud-like creams, fruits, chocolates, and caramel, to serving it cold or piping hot, in custard bowls or inside bread, Kunafa can do it all. And it does it really well.
To recap, kunafa (or konafa, kanafeh, knafeh) is a Middle-Eastern/ Mediterranean pastry made from shredded, vermicelli-like phyllo dough that crisps up into this beautifully golden dessert when baked. It almost always, comes with a surprise filling and sweetened with simple syrup.
Pastry shops and home cooks have been getting really creative with kunafa innovations lately. I for one, have been guilty of some and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Hint hint: stay tuned!
I once stuffed it with a full-fledged New York cheesecake, because why not?! And made a grilled cheese sandwich with it! YUM!
But something about the familiar classics, that makes them that much timeless and much more cozy.
So in light of that conclusion, I bring you today a classic that is not one bit classic!
Ok…what I’m trying to say is that I’m making Cheese Kunafa, one of the most classic and beloved kunafa variations, but in the least classic way possible. Wait…let me stop you right here, if you’re doubting the deliciousness of gooey cheese in dessert, because gosh…its ridiculous!!!
So you still get that crunchy shredded pastry crust, oozing out with ooey gooey cheese and drenched in rose and orange blossom water scented syrup, just through an unorthodox method.
So…In terms of kunafa variations? Oh its classic.
But as far as ingredients and methods are concerned? Let’s just say that I’m risking getting my Egyptian citizenship revoked.
In my defense though, I had the best of intentions of staying true to the original, but things didn’t work so well. So…I had no choice but to improvise!
Typically, cheese kunafa, like Nabulsia or knafeh bil jibn, are filled with Arabic cheeses with melting qualities like Nabulsi or Akkawi cheese. But I’m making it with pizza’s best friend, Mozzarella.
Ok I have very valid reasons:
- Nabulsi and Akkawi cheese are really hard to find in a lot of countries. So BOOM! Mozzarella globalizes it!
- Nabulsi and Akkawi cheese are quiet salty, so they need to be soaked in water for hours, changing the water every now and then, to get rid of the salt. So there you go lazy folks…this is the cheese kunafa for you! Although to be fair, I’ve heard that in the Levant, desalted Akkawi and Nabulsi are available.
- Lots of people use mozzarella in their kunafas, which makes it a very common and acceptable substitute. So I’m not the first! Hear that Food Police? Go pick on someone else?
- Ooze-ability (let’s make that a word) is an important factor and I found that Akkawi, or at least the one I could find in Egypt, never gave me the “oozebility” and stringiness I craved. I don’t know about Nabulsi though, because I could never find it here.
- Akkawi stays soft for approximately 10 minutes after it gets out of the oven and then it turns into edible leather. But so does mozzarella! Think cold pizza. And here’s where the secret ingredient that promises a soft filling even after the konafa cools, comes to play:
A Semolina Pudding!
Again…deviating from tradition. But seriously, when the kunafa tastes that good, who cares?!
Baking Nerd Alert:
At Middle Eastern restaurants, they manage to serve you that delicious slab of kunafa, dripping with molten cheese. If I’m not wrong, I imagine they bake the whole thing, let it cool, then reheat individual slices. And its incredible to the say the least.
At home we bake the whole thing, set it on the table and allow people to help themselves with a piece whenever they feel like it. Ofcourse, the luckiest are those who get the first slices, the moment that kunafa comes out of the oven. As the kunafa sits, the cheese hardens, and all the remaining slices taste much inferior.
What does that mean?
The cheese needs to be mixed with something else (something soft in all its states), to help prevent the cheese from hardening after it cools.
Like what? You have one of 2 choices:
- Another type of soft cheese. Ricotta and cottage cheese are often added to the cheese and it does help. My only concern about them, is that they tend to either have a tangy or bland flavor than masks the mozzarella cheese flavor that we love so much. If you don’t mind that, you could go ahead and use it, if not then use the following great discovery.
- Layer the cheese between Semolina Pudding. I ran into this genius solution while searching for cheese kunafa recipes. It’s a very loose milk pudding, thickened by semolina flour and flavored with rose water. On its own, it tastes like a thinned out Layaly Lebnan, Lebanese Nights (a popular Lebanese milk pudding). Combined with the mozzarella cheese, it somehow coats it and prevents it from hardening up. The flavors go swimmingly together too. I played around with the cheese to pudding ratios suggested by the original recipe though, to get it more cheesy and less pudding-y. Straight out of the oven, the filling will be gooey and stringy, and while it won’t stay exactly like that as it cools, it will still be very very soft and not one bit leathery. SUCCESS!
Let me show how its done.
You’ll first prepare the pudding, by heating together milk, heavy cream, sugar, semolina flour and a tiny bit of cornstarch. Once it comes up to a boil, you’ll continue to cook it for a few minutes longer until it thickens. You’ll then flavor it with a splash of rose water, then set it aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, you’ll prepare the kunafa crust by shredding some kunafa/kadaifi/kataifi pastry into short strands. You’ll then coat it with melted ghee or clarified butter. (For more info on clarified butter, please check this post)
You’ll then take two-thirds of the kunafa, and firmly press it on the bottom and around the sides of the pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup will help compress it and get the kunafa well up the sides.
Spread 1/2 of the slightly cooled semolina pudding on the bottom of the crust, followed by mozzarella thats been lightly sweetened with some sugar and flavored with rose water. (No need to add sugar to your mozzarella if its not salty)
Fresh mozzarella is best of course if you can get it, but pre-shredded works fine.
Cover the mozzarella with the remaining pudding, then scatter the rest of the kunafa on top of it. Lightly press it down to adhere. Then bake!
Will you look at that color? Is that gorgeous or what?!
As soon as the kunafa comes out of the oven, drizzle it all over with most of your scented syrup. Give it a few minutes to soak in.
Then take a deep breath and flip!
Typically, I would grind a handful of pistachios and scatter them all over the top, but when the color is that vibrant, how could I cover it up?
So I settled for a crown of pistachios fit for King Kunafa.
So yes, it may not be certified “authentic.”
And the recipe does break several cheese kunafa-making rules, but it may just become your new favorite.
And isn’t this what matters in the end?
Mozzarella Cheese Kunafa
A not-so-authenic cheese kunafa made with everyone’s favorite mozzarella cheese! Crunchy shredded pastry filled with an ooey gooey mixture of mozzarella and a secret ingredient that keeps the cheese from hardening even after it cools. A rose and orange blossom water scented sugar syrup, sweetens and perfumes this scrumptious Middle Eastern favorite.
For the Scented Sugar Syrup:*
- 2 1/2 cups (1 lb 1oz/ 500g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup (300ml) water
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon (15g) rose water (more or less according to taste)
- 1 tablespoon (15g) orange blossom water (more or less according to taste)
For the Semolina Pudding:
- 1 1/2 cups (350ml) milk
- 3/4 cup (180ml) heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons (37g) granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons (30g) semolina
- 1 teaspoon (3g) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon (5g) orange blossom water
- 1 teaspoon (5g) rose water
For the Cheese Filling:
- 600 grams/ 1lb 3oz mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces*
- 3 tablespoons (37g) granulated sugar (omit if your cheese does not taste salty)*
- 2 teaspoon (10g) orange blossom water
- 1 teaspoons (10g) rose water
For the Kunafa Crust:
- 1lb/ 500g kunafa or kataifi/kadaifi pastry, fresh or frozen. If using fresh, freeze for an hour for easier cutting. If using frozen, thaw slightly
- 1 cup (8oz/ 227g) ghee or butter, melted and slightly cooled*
To make the Scented Sugar Syrup: (Can be made up to a week in advance)
- In a medium saucepan, combine together the sugar, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on a stovetop over high heat. Try to avoid stirring it as it heats to prevent crystallization from happening, but if the sugar is not dissolving, then help it out with a few stirs. Once it comes to a boil, STOP stirring.
- Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for no longer than 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken slightly, and have a consistency similar to pancake syrup. If it simmers for longer it could thicken too much and become candy-like.
- Remove from heat, then stir in the rose and orange blossom waters. Transfer to a medium bowl, liquid measuring cup or gravy boat and allow to cool to room temperature before using.
To make the Semolina Pudding:
- In a small saucepan, off heat, combine together the milk, heavy cream, sugar, semolina and cornstarch.
- Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking until the mixture thickens into a loose pudding-like consistency; about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the orange blossom and rose waters. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the kunafa.
To prepare the Cheese Filling:
- In a medium bowl, stir together the mozzarella cheese, sugar (if using), orange blossom and rose waters.
To prepare the Kunafa:
- Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 200C/ 390F.
- Heavily grease a 12"/ 30cm round cake pan with ghee or butter. A larger pan size (like a 14"/ 35cm deep dish pizza pan may be used, but note that the kunafa will turn out thinner) Alternatively, the kunafa could also be split over 2 (9"/ 23cm) or 4 (6"/ 15cm) pans. You could bake one now and freeze the other(s) for later.
- Over a large bowl, shred the konafa/kataifi dough into 1inch/ 2.5cm long pieces. I've found that cutting the kunafa while semi frozen, makes for the easiest way to break it. So even if using fresh kunafa, stick it in the freezer for about an hour before cutting it.
- Pour the melted ghee evenly over the kunafa. If using butter instead of ghee, for fresh, extra thin konafa dough, just pour the yellow liquid (butterfat) of the melted butter, leaving behind the white layer (milk solids). If using thicker, frozen konafa/kadiafi, just pour all the butter in. Mix the butter evenly with you hands, into the kanafeh shreds, making sure it gets well coated and every strand is glistening.
- Transfer two-thirds the amount of konafa in the prepared pan and firmly press it on the bottom and up the sides. Make a wall with the konafa around the sides of the pan; this will help contain the filling during the baking process and prevent it from burning. Pack the konafa as tightly as possible. Use the bottom of a cup or measuring cup, to help pack it tightly and smooth out the konafa.
- Pour in half of the cooled, semolina pudding and spread with a spatula into a thin layer. Top with the cheese mixture and pat down into an even layer. Cover with the remaining semolina pudding.
- Scatter on the remaining third of the konafa over the cream filling, lightly press it on to adhere.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top and sides of the konafa are deep golden brown in color. Use a knife to push the side of the konafa, to check the color. The longer it bakes, the crunchier it gets.
- Remove the konafa from the oven and immediately pour on about 3/4 of the scented syrup, starting from the edge and moving towards the center, in a circular motion, making sure to cover the entire surface. Reserve leftover syrup for drizzling over individual servings.
- Let the konafa rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow for the syrup to soak in, then flip on to a serving platter. Decorate the edges with halved pistachios, or for a more traditional look, Cover the entire surface with ground out pistachios.
- Cut into wedges and serve right away, while still hot, passing along extra syrup, as desired. Kunafa is best enjoyed warm, while the filling is still gooey, but it still tastes delicious at room temperature and the filling will still be soft but not gooey. Leftovers maybe stored in the refrigerator, then rewarmed in the oven or microwave.
- Sugar syrup can be substituted with about 2 cups of the Big Batch Sugar Syrup.
- This recipe will also make 2 (9"/ 23cm round) kunafas, or 4 (6"/ 15cm round) ones.
- If using fresh, extra thin, Arabic-style konafa dough, it is preferable to use only the butterfat in the melted butter, leaving behind the milk solids or just use the full amount of ghee instead, to ensure a crunchy, evenly browned crust. If using thicker, Greek-style frozen kadaifi/konafa, you can use the butter in its entirety; milk solids and all. Unlike thin, fresh konafa, thicker/frozen kadiafi dough can handle the extra moisture, while still crisping up. To separate the butterfat from the milk solids, let the butter sit for a few minutes after melting. The milk solids (the whiter substance) will sink to the bottom and the butterfat (the yellow liquid) will float up. You could now simply pour the butterfat, being careful to leave the white bottom layer behind. It's OK if a little of the milk solids get poured in as well. (Get more details about clarifying butter here).
- Feel free to add up to 800 grams of mozzarella for an extra cheesy kunafa. If using fresh buffalo mozzarella, be sure to squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible before filling into the kunafa.
- The amount of sugar added to the mozzarella filling, depends on how salty the cheese tastes. If using fresh mozzarella, you may choose to leave out the sugar sugar because its not salty. So taste your cheese and you be the judge of how much sugar needs to be added. I use pre-shredded mozzarella, not because its the best choice, but rather because its the most easily accessible where I live. It's slightly salty, so 3 tablespoons is perfect to balance it out.
- In non-Middle Eastern countries, Kadaifi/kataifi/konafa dough can be found in the frozen Greek section of most big supermarkets, or in Middle Eastern speciality stores.
- Kunafa freezes really well before baking. Assemble the kunafa in the pan, don't bake, and cover with a double layer of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil. When ready to bake, let it thaw, then bake as normal.
Semolina pudding recipe adapted from Embers Mezze Bar.
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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I just yelled out ‘YES!’ When I saw the title of this post because omg Cheese Kunafa is one of my favorite things to eat! I haven’t even read the post yet ? But I’m just super excited to make this at home ?
So thanks you for answering my ‘Ramadan dessert’ prayers ????
Haha!!! Mariam I’m so excited for your excitement! I’ve been trying to get it right for so long, but I’m finally happy with the results. I hope you love it too. Now I wanna venture on the knafeh naameh with cheese. The ground up, really fine Kunafa one. I know it’s not gonna be an easy mission, but its so loved which makes it worth it.
Oooh I don’t think I’ve tried that one before. It sounds delicious. And I’m pretty sure you would nail it!?
Did you find a good recipe for knafe naameh?
Hi Sara! Unfortunately I never got around trying any just yet but I’m eyeing a few recipes online.
Here’s one that looks very promising:
Do you have any knafe naameh recipe recommendations that I could start with?
What can I substitute orange blossom water. We don’t get it here
ساجربه اليوم وأخبرك بالنتيجة انا متحمسة جدا
Just read your post and it is making me soooo happy.
I just loove your way of writing. And the pictures are looking fab.
I hope you have something in your upcoming list for suhoor. (Just because the idea seems great to me?)
Also I have never seen any great recipes or anything for suhoor lately ( or anytime before……..) anywhere.
Well, this may seem strange to those who are lazy to wake up for suhoor, but those of us who do wake up, we are seriously at a lack for something new for this (before the fast) meal…
An also thanks alot for all these Ramadan posts. I really appreciate the efforts you have taken for it.
Aaaaaand RAMADAN KAREEM to you dear. May Allah reward you for everything you have done.
You’re so sweet Miss Muss. Thank you so much for your kind words and Ramadan Kareem to you and your family.
Sadly it’s all going to be about desserts this Ramadan but I’ll definitely keep that in mind for next year. But I know just the blog for you if you’re interested in sohour recipes. My friend Noha, who blogs at http://www.mattersofthebelly.com will surely get you covered in that department. She’s amazing & has lots of savory recipes. I highly recommend checking out her blog.
That looks so delicious. Can I use vermicelli for the pastry? Its really hard, actually next to impossible to find shredded phyllo here in Bangalore, India.
Hi Sarah! I’m afraid vermicelli won’t work out as its a kind of pasta & Kunafa is more like a pastry. The texture will be so different. However, there’s a cheater’s version of Kunafa that is known as “liar Kunafa” which is made from white toast. It’s different ofcourse, but works really well with this type of filling. Here’s a recipe that I’ve tried & loved!
You could use the Kunafa base from the link with the filling from here or make the other recipe altogether. Both ways, it will be fabulous!
I think I found a good substitute for shredded phylo. We have an Indian sweet named feyni or payni that tastes similar to phylo 🙂 Thanks Tasbih… will look through your link as well..
Awesome! I just googled them and payni looks very similar. I hope it works!
Hi Tasbih i tried the cheaters version of kunafe Using the toast with your filling as i was unable to get the shredded phyllo.it really was delicious theMozzarella and semolina pufding mix is perfection.
Hey kunfa dough is available in Bangalore . The company is Hatsim Food company, it’s available in MK supermarket. You can checkout their insta page @hatsimfood for more information.
Hatsim kunafa dough available in Bangalore. At chef’s call, shivaginagar.
I am so excited to try this recipe because am so addicted to kunafa nabulsia… Where can I get fresh mozzarella in Cairo
I’m so excited for you too! Unfortunately, it’s very very hard to find. I remember at one point I think Panda or Domty were making them but I can’t find them anywhere now. I just use the pre-shredded kind and it works really well.
I have to disclose I am a brownie, cookie junkie all the way! Sorry Tasbih, but you can give me the most elegant dessert ever but nothing comes closest to my heart than a chocolate chip cookie. Hey, for 33 years I have grown up in america.
🙂 But this year I just had to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to try something new. And this turned out to be very nice. It baked up into 2 9in cake pans. And I brushed the syrup on top of the surface after flipping it out of the pan.
Honestly, I cannot wait to try the other middle eastern sweets on your blog now! Enjoy your weekend.
Yaaaaaay Iram I’m so happy you got to try something new but even happier that you loved it!
P.S: your talk about cookies made me crave one so badly right now?
Hello! Just wanted to ask is fine semolina the same thing as semolina flour? Thanks! This looks delicious
Hi Farah! Yes they’re the same thing ?
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Thanks so much for the recipe! Everybody absolutely loved it! I always thought it would be complicated to make but it was no more difficult than baking a cake. Not to mention your instructions were very thorough. I made a 9in that I baked and an 8in that I froze. I let it thaw overnight in the fridge, baked it the next day and it was perfect. You would not even had known it was frozen. Love it! Thanks again!
Yaaaaay! That’s awesome news Sarah! I’m so happy you all enjoyed as much as we do. Thank you so much for taking the time to write your feedback?
I just came along this recipe and would love to try it.I have a question in regards to the mozzarella type is it the hard or soft fresh one ( the one used for caprese salad?). the fresh soft one Isn’t it too watery?
Hi! The fresh one I use is super soft (like caprese) but is packaged in a dry bag NOT the water packed one. The pull & texture of the soft cheese is so much more desirable than that of the hard cheese.
Masha Allah, great recipes
As a revert I’m new to cooking the fantastic tastes of the Middle East. My Palestinian sister in law taught me how to make Kunafa last Ramadan while I was visiting Saudi Arabia but of course back here in Canada very difficult to find ingredients.
I am having a 80th birthday party for my Mother this weekend and hope to share this wonderful dessert with my Non Muslim family to give them all a taste of our favourite Ramadan treat.
Because I need to transport this dessert it will get cold so I need to fill the mozz cheese with the semolina pudding but semolina flour is the highest count of gluten so I’d rather not use it and also to use ricotta or cottage cheese will change the flavour a bit
so i’m wondering if using a pudding made with coconut flour would work?
Any suggestions would be wonderful
Jazaki Allah Khayran
Thank you so much Amenda for your sweet comment. I’m so pleased to hear that you like the recipes over here especially the Middle Eastern ones. And guess what?! I’m part Canadian too & have lived in Ontario for a while so I’m familiar with the grocery stores & where to find Middle Eastern ingredients. Please let me know if there’s ever an ingredient that you can’t find, because I might be able to help you track it down.
Happy birthday to your mom! I think it’s wonderful that you’re giving your family a taste of our traditional food. What I would personally do in your situation, is assemble the whole thing & bake it off at the destination so it’s nice & warm when served. If that’s not a possibility, no worries, it will still be delicious at room temperature. As for the semolina, it’s only a very small amount to barely thicken it, but if it concerns you, I guess you could simply increase the amount of cornstarch enough to get the right consistency. I’ve never used coconut flour before, so unfortunately I can’t confirm that it will work. Another option to consider is to make the cream filled konafa instead. It’s sooo delicious but it’s different from the Palestinian version; it’s more common in Egypt. It’s definitely worth trying some day. Here’s the link to it:
Thank you so much Tasbih for everything. That’s awesome you are also part Canadian living in Ontario!
I love the dishes of the Middle East! Especially with the original ingredients .
I’m in St Catherine’s and find it very difficult to find many authentic middle east ingredients or foods
I’m very excited to be bringing ethnic food to the party since my siblings and the rest of the family are bringing the typical dishes usually made.
I actually found another dessert I think I will make instead of Kunafa because kunafa needs to be really eaten fresh and will be to difficult for me at the hall we are having the party to reheat or make. I think I will try Zalabya. I don’t think I had these even last Ramadan when I was in Saudi Arabia. Is it found more in the Egyptian kitchens?
Also wondering if Zalabya would be good with homemade maple flavoured caramel sauce? Will it make the Zalabya to sweet?
If you could help me where I would find Kahk essence. We do have an Islamic store right beside our Masjid and I will of course first check there, but if it is not as some Middle Eastern ingredients for baking they do not carry, or maybe is only sold during Ramadan, do you know what other stores might sell it
I hope to perfect all my Middle Eastern/Palestinian dishes before my husband immigrates here from Saudi Arabia which won’t be much longer now in shaa Allah, although while I was there he was very happy with my typical ‘Canadian’ dishes to give a taste of my culture to him and his family. But really, I find Middle Eastern recipes much more flavourful and very celebratory even on the taste buds!
Thanks again and Thank you for the birthday wishes for my Mother
I will let you know how my Zalabya turns out!
Aaawwww I hope you get reunited with your husband very soon.
Zalabya is actually popular all over the Middle East & some European countries as well. However, each country gives it a different name. If I’m not mistaken, I believe they’re called awamat in Saudi Arabia. I think that caramel sauce would go swimmingly with the zalabya (although not authentic) but I’d recommend omitting the simple syrup so it doesn’t get too sweet. One thing to note though, is that zalabya too is best enjoyed fresh, preferably warm within 2 hours of frying. If you like that idea of zalabya, then I’d recommend making Balah El Sham (fluted fritters) instead. They look like churros but behave similar to zalabya. On the plus side, they keep really well & taste just as amazing at room temperature. I actually prefer them over zalabya. Maybe I’m bias though because it’s my grandma’s recipe. Here’s the link:
On another note, the cream filled kunafa, unlike its cheese cousin, is also great cold. You could also flavor the simple syrup to your own preference by adding as much or as little rose water & orange blossom water as you’d like.
I haven’t seen Kahk Essence in Canada, but I’d give this Egyptian store a shot, since it’s an egyptian flavoring. You could trying calling them first to ask to save yourself the drive. Here’s their info:
Botros: 660 Eglinton Ave. W, Mississauga.
Thank you for the heads up and suggestions, I think I will go with Grandma’s Balah El Sham! Good thing I checked my email, I was just about to start the Zalabya. I got a late start to cooking tonight.
I will try the Zalabya next week for my kids so I don’t end up eating them all myself
Thanks for the address where I can find ingredients. I need to get out to Mississauga, I hear there is a large and wonderful Muslim community there and so much easier to find Halal food and ingredients.
Also, what type of cream would I use for Kunafa?
Have a great weekend! Jazaki Allah Khayran
I’ll let you know how Balah El Sham turns out.:)
I hope your Balah El Sham turns out wonderful and everyone loves it!
I used to live in Oakville, but would always head to Mississauga for the Middle Eastern stuff.
For the cream in the kunafa, heavy whipping cream is perfect.
Enjoy the weekend yourself ?
Thanks alot for this amazing recipe. Knefe is very popular at our house and I have tried so many variations of it but hands down your recipe is tops all of them by far! It turned out exactly as you described it and is a success every time. Your blog is one of my favorites and the pictures are flawles. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!
Please excuse the typos!
I couldn’t notice any?
Samah that means a lot coming from a knefe connoisseur like you! I’m so honored that it has become your favorite recipe. Thank you so much for your feedback and for your sweet compliments.
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This dough we use it for uthmanlyeh (عثمنلية) dessert…knefe’s dough is made from semolina and other ingredients..but i think this recipe will be delicious…and similar to knefe’s taste…..i’ll try it as soon as possible…
Thanks Maryam! I hope you give this twist on kunafa a try soon!
I think that holds true mostly in the Levant countries…in Egypt we use this dough for all types of kunafa. It’s basically the only only kunafa we know hahahaaa! I’ve been struggling to make knefe naameh (the one you’re referring to) for so long, but we don’t have that semolina farket knefe dough here in Egypt & all the recipes I’ve tried so far to recreate the dough at home has been a big disappointment. Gotta keep trying I guess.
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I have been on a vendetta in the last year or 2 trying to find the secret to make knafeh.
As I read your article i find myself heating up more and more in anger at your bid3as… until suddenly it all cooled down and i realized that you must be a pure utter genius! I’m loving this idea.
First of all everything you said about knafeh is the same that I’ve concluded in my quest. The cheese can NOT be found in USA, and furthermore, even authentic knafeh glory fades after the first cooling. It’s known all thru Jerusalem that if you get knafeh you wait patiently until the fresh tray comes out.
So I also have been using mozzarella and it’s done well.
Then i started adding ricotta and sure enough it stays stringier over cooling cycles. But in my heart.. i knew something was wrong and then Bam you said it! The ricotta adds blandness.
Then i read your secret ingredient and i thought to myself.. “now i am become death, the destroyer of worlds”
Your semolina concoction is either the Pinnacle of human achievement, or the greatest abomination man has yet wrought!!
I have yet to test it out and find out which is it.. but, it’s safe to say that either way YOU have a subscriber and I’m all about what you’re about brother (sister?)
I’m feeling the passion! Knafeh is my greatest love despite that i have a savory tooth and HATE sweets. That’s how good it is…
PS i lived a year in Egypt and never once did i find knafeh there. Does it exist there? I mean with cheese, not qshta?
Ok you’re scaring me lol…I feel like I’m under a knafeh test and will have a judging panel taste it? Thank God I never claimed authenticity with this recipe, to set the expectations straight. My family & I absolutely LOVE this knock off, but I can’t help but want to replicate the original version for variety, even if it means sacrificing stringiness after a few minutes. I just need to find some decent cheese first. I hope you find this recipe “the pinnacle of human achievement” and thanks for subscribing.
While qeshta knafeh reigns supreme in Egypt, there are actually many spots that make the cheese ones; I just had some last week. They are spreading wildly these days with the movement of Syrians to Egypt. Most of these shops are Syrian owned and run and they’re doing an exceptional job at it.
Best of luck with your knafeh adventures, Tasbih (sister ?)
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I have searched long and hard to find a kunafah recipe worth it’s name that is not in arabic, and this here is a god send! I made this during new years, and i’m making it again for easter. My family and I absolutely love it! Thank you so much!!
Sara your comment just made my day! So happy this recipe lived up to your expectations. Have a wonderful Easter ?
I made this just now ans it turned out great ! Went through quite a dew recipes but tours definitely made me go like this is it and this was actually it ! Thank You 🙂
That’s amazing to hear Sama! So happy you found the one 🙂
Omg yes thank you for this recipe ❤? I have been searching for the perfect recipe that has ingredients I can easily find and has proper measurements and everything! You’re the best!! I cannot wait to try!
It’s my pleasure Ayesha! I really hope you love it as much as we do!
Just wanted to update that I successfully made some amazingly delicious kunafa by following this recipe pretty much exactly (only addition was some orange and red food coloring to the butter when I incorporated it with the kataifi dough). I used two 9 inch rounds and they were filled to the brim, baked for 40 minutes for the perfect slightly crunchy finish! The aroma was intoxicating as it came out of the oven! My Palestinian neighbor loved it too and asked for the recipe so I shared the link to this recipe! My only issue was probably my mistake, I think I may have cooked the semolina pudding a tad too long because it got thicker and clumpier as it cooled so it was pretty hard to spread into a thin layer. Regardless of that (which was probably my fault), the kunafa was so so so delicious!!! Better than the bakery we have here that sells it- by a long shot!! Thank you so much Tasbih for creating & sharing the recipe with such clear and detailed instructions!! ❤❤
Oh wow Ayesha what an amazing feedback! I’m so happy to hear that it worked so well with you. And getting a Palestinian’s seal of approval is EVERYTHING! They’re the kunafa gurus. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with this recipe 🙂
Of course! 🙂 and just a question about the semolina pudding- do you think the reason mine came out clumpy and was hard to spread was because I cooked it for too long? Or perhaps was it because I didn’t use fine semolina? (I think I have slightly coarser semolina). I want to make it again for Eid and don’t want to make the same mistake again.
Sorry Ayesha if my reply came a bit too late. I was spending Eid at a place with no WiFi & no network, so had no connection whatsoever to the outside world. To answer your question, yes overcooking with thicken it too much. Both fine & medium semolina will work just fine here.
Hi Tasbih! Just letting you know that I noticed a shop website has used some of your pictures from this post- I’ll put the link in so you can follow up if you want.
Oh no! I hate it when that happens. Thank you so much for looking out after me.
So I’ve been trying to make a proper Kunafa ever since I ate one in Madinah back in 2015. I set out to make this with a lot of substitutions (we don’t get kataifi dough here in India so I used this thing called Sevai/Payni instead, and I couldn’t find fresh mozzarella) and of course things went wrong as they always do when I try to make something …. but … you are a genius, because the end result was absolutely SMASHING!
For my father to say “this is probably the best kunafa I ever ate” … means it was really good! So a HUGE thank you!!
I will need to perfect this next time, try to make my own kataifi dough and try to get fresh mozzarella … but for now my family’s Kunafa cravings have been satisfied! Thank you so much and Eid Mubarak in advance!
That’s awesome! I’m glad you guys loved it! I’ve been getting a lot of questions from India, asking if vermicelli or sevai could be substituted for the kunafa, but I always find my self in a pickle because I really don’t know the answer. I had no idea what sevai is until someone asked about it so I had to google it. Would you recommend this substitution?
I think it is the best we can do in India with sevai in the absence of kataifi dough, but the problem with sevai is that even in its raw form, the texture is quite brittle, so while the structure of the Kunafa held, my hands would be full of little sevai pieces from cutting out a slice or handling it. (Usually when we cook with sevai, it then becomes softened and thin, noodle like).
I think sevai would work better for Kunafa N’meh where you turn the kataifi dough into small bits.
Thank you so much for your tips & clarification. I’m sure they’re be of great help to readers facing the same issue.
You are insane!! I dont know where u get all these ideas to bake all these amazing recipes! May Allah bless and protect u always dear.
By the way, i couldnt find any semolina flour here, can i replace it with something else or can i omit it completely?
Thank you so much Fathin for your kind words and prayers; deeply appreciated.
For semolina substitute, you could use farina in the same amount. Hope that helps ?
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Hi! Can i assemble the kunafa in the pan and keep it in the refrigirator a day before baking it instead of freezing it?
Hi Carlene! Absolutely. You can leave it in the fridge for up to 24 hours; I tried it several times before with great results. Enjoy ?
Hi Tasbih. Do I need to wait for it to be room remprature once out of the fridge?
I just wonder if I can cut the measurements to half to make a smaller kunafah? Will it turn well?
Absolutely! Sometimes I even make 1/4 of the recipe in a 6inch cake pan if I don’t need that much and it turns out fantastic!
Wow, amazing. We are a kunafa loving family but can never find the right texture anywhere here in America, but this came out perfect. I got 5, “best I’ve ever had” out of 5 picky eaters. Your awesome, every recipe you share comes out perfect, 1000 thank you, you are much appreciated.
And your feedback is even more appreciated Marie! I love hearing that it was such a hit. The great thing about using mozzarella in kunafa, is that its easily accessible no matter where you are in the world. So happy it worked so well for you.
Can I use a spring-form cake pan for this purpose ?
Hi Busiana! Unless you’re 100% sure that the pan is very well sealed at the bottom, then I wouldn’t recommend it. The removable bottom can cause the ghee to seep through and cause a mess in your oven and smoke.
Hi there, so excited to try this out! I’ll be making this at a baking competition at my school and was wondering what the serving size is for this recipe so I know how much I need to make! I think I need around 20 medium-small servings
Hi Julie! I’ve been recently making it in a 34cm (13 inch), no other changes needed, and it comes out HUGE, only slightly thinner, which I actually prefer! I’d say it can easily feed 16 people, if not more. Best of luck on competition!
I love it will do it isa bas i have question do i have to add rose water and orange blossom water as i dnt love them
God bless u i live to watch ur videos
Thank you Rabab! Hope you love it when you do give it a try. You can absolutely omit them if you’re not a fan. They’re just here for flavor, so feel free to adjust it according to your taste.
This was, hands down, best kunafa I’ve ever made. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I’m making it again tonight and hoping for equally good result as the first time. I did decrease the sugar in the pudding because we don’t like it too sweet, and I didn’t have orange blossom water, so I only used rose water. So good!!
Best thing I could hear! I’m really happy you loved this one as much as we do ?
I LOVE cheese Kuanafa.
I make it with a combo of ricotta and “sweet cheese” —found in Arab/Persian store in the states….sadly, not available in Egypt.
Jazakillah Khairan for sharing ur recipe ?
Just to clarify, can I make this recipe and only bake later?
It’s my pleasure Khatija! Sure! You can prepare it, then keep it in the fridge, until it’s ready to bake. It’s what I always do ?
HI Sommer! I’ve been hearing about sweet cheese and it seems like the best kunafa filling. Wish we had it it Egypt.
How long does the Kunafa take to thaw one frozen? Makig in advance for an iftaar party and want to make sure I do not take it out too early or too late before baking. Thank you!
I’m terribly sorry for my late reply, as Ramadan has been so super busy and I was having a hard time keeping up with everything. I usually take it out of the freezer, first thing in the morning, then once its thawed, I just keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to bake. But it probably takes around 3 hours to thaw.
Amazing recipe. Absolutely loved it. But my kunafa dough didn’t crisp up and become toasted. Do you have any tips?
I’m so happy you like it Zaakariyah! I’ve found that using a stainless steel pan, rather than aluminum, helps crisp it up faster and better.
اسّلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
I’m so glad to have find your blog n xcellent recipes ❤️
This recipe is Excellent ? ????
I was a little pressed for time so I blitz the kataifi dough for a couple of seconds in my magimix n like n behold it was super easy to assemble …
Alhamdulillah with all your tips the khunafa came out perfect ?
Everyone throughly enjoyed it ….
Love n Duas from South Africa ??
Walaikom Assalam Bibi! You are the sweetest. Thank you so much for your kind words and I’m really happy you loved this kunafa.
Love back from Egypt ??
Salam Tabih! Hope you and your lovely family are all well and happy <3
My father has been craving kunafa and it's father's day in the UK tomorrow. Never made it before but I have full confidence in using this recipe of yours, it will be a HIT. I'm so excited!!!
Few questions: if i omit the rose water and orange blossom (we aren't huge fans), could I use a tsp of vanilla paste instead? would that suffice? (we don't like things too sweet so I'd have to reduce sugar amount too)
I'm not sure about which mozarella I'd be able to find but we have fresh mozarella balls that come packaged with water, could I use it but just drain it beforehand?
Lastly – I see we add milk for the semolina pudding, could i add half evaporated milk and the other half normal milk? For the flavour, or do you think it'd be better without?
Thank you so so so much in advance! Know that you're an absolute Godsend <3 <3 <3
I made this for the Eid this weekend and it was amaaaazing! I didn’t have enough mozzarella so I made up the difference with ricotta. Oh, man. I had it for dinner straight out of the fridge last night and the cheese was still soft. Perfect! You’re making my family think that I’m a pastry chef!
Hi there. trying this recipe. in my pudding mixture the semolina got swelled up. is that normal. how thick the pudding should be?
Hi Madeeha! Yes…the pudding does swell up. The pudding has a loose, pudding-like consistency. It’s not very thick.
First thing. Thank you so much for this recipe.
Last time I made it, I used a combination of ricotta and mozzarella. While the taste was good, the texture had something lacking. I’m sure the semolina pudding will be a solution.
I have doubt though. Do we use roasted semolina or plain semolina?
Hi Lakshmi! A combo of ricotta and mozzarella won’t be as gooey gooey and stretchy as the mozzarella/pudding combo. So I recommend trying it out and you’ll definitely notice an improvement. I use plain semolina.
Thank you for this recipe, going to try this out! Also wierd question – what was the original music in the video called? Why have you changed it!? It was amazing!
This turned out amazing! Thank you so much!!
I have one doubt, My kunafa become crispy, so I can’t cut the kunafa In a good shape. is it really like that…
Hello Tasbih, can I use dry kadayif? Will I have to rehydrate it? If I do, how should I rehydrate it? Thank you in advance !!
Assalamualaikum. Hye there. Your kunafah looks very adorable and tasty!! Yummy???
I want to ask your permission to use one of your picture in here to make sticker. Would you allow me to do this?
TQ with regards.
Oh that sounds amazing! Love the idea and thanks so much for asking. You sure can…and would love to see it when it’s done.
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Hello, good recipe ,but I’m sorry to say not as good as using Akkawi Cheese. Akkawi has a better flavor and doesn’t become as leathery/rubbery like Mozzarella cheese and many experts would agree even though you said otherwise.Anyway good job.
Hi Hellani! When it comes to kunafa, I agree with you that good quality akkawi cheese can’t be beat…that is if you can find it. Unfortunately the akkawi we have in Egypt is very hard in texture and rubbery and is nothing close to what you can find in the Levant region. This recipe was designed with those who don’t have access to good-quality akkawi (or even just akkawi altogether) in mind. Given the fact that mozzarella is available worldwide, and more accessible than akkawi, this recipe makes it easy for anyone to make it, regardless where they live. If you have good akkawi where you live (lucky you!), please go ahead and use that. Also keep in mind that the stretchiness and flavor of the mozzarella highly depends on the type used. I find that fresh buffalo mozzarella gives much better results than the preshredded supermarket kind. Kindly check out my Instagram highlight labeled ‘mozzarella kunafa’ to see how I use fresh mozzarella in this recipe.
Wow this is so beautiful and your photos make the recipe seem so approachable. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Cristina!
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First of all, Ramadan Mubarak! I wish you and your family well. I just wanted to ask, what can I use as a substitute for the kataifi pastry? I live in London and it is impossible for me to find it anywhere. I was thinking of using vermicelli, but then I read previous comments. Please let me know xx
(By the way, your recipes look so good mashallah!)
Salam Zaynab! Thank you dear and wishing you a blessed Ramadan for you and your family as well.
Have you checked at Green Valley supermarket? My cousin used to live in London and she told me that all Arabic food is usually available there. It’s in Edgware road area.
If not, then definitely not vermicelli; although it looks similar to kunafa, it’s very different. I’ve actually seen YouTube videos of DIY kunafa. Some people make a mixture of ground sandwich bread and ghee and use that instead of the kunafa crust. It will give you a very different flavor profile, but it will behave similarly in baking.
Best of luck!
Hi I’m in London now and I ordered it from here it arrived promptly and I will try the recipe this week https://www.thefoodmarket.com/products/homemade-kataifi-kadaifi-pastry-1kg?gclid=CjwKCAjwh472BRAGEiwAvHVfGuF4n-9AFPxwiRjfSAcMot44bI8w_sAv00FjBxOZI4vbR9lkVt1x9BoC2C8QAvD_BwE
Thanks for this recipe! Followed it exactly, but used Akawi cheese instead of Mozzarella.
Right now with COVID, and not going out much for desserts during Ramadan, this was a super successful first attempt at making delicious homemade Knafeh!
Yay! So happy you loved it so much ?
yes i did. congratulations for all the explanations . Perfect, no body can fail with all the instructions and recommendations you gave . I was afraid to do it but with your help nothing is imposible , you did an excellent work. Pictures beautiful. thanks
That’s so awesome to hear! Thank you for your wonderful feedback ?
This recipe is AMAZING!!!! You are amazinggg for sharing this! I have made this for many people, all from different places in the middle east and they all love it!
WOW! What an honor?! Makes my day to know that it was such a hit ?
I tried making it today. It is my very first time making kunafa! Though there are thousands of recipes, and more traditiinal ones too )) but I never doubted once that I needed to go with yours in particular, because I had already tried basbousa before and it was the best basbousa I had ever made ) so I said if I want to learn something new that would be only cleobuttera who would teach me ?
So my kunafa is ready and waiting for me in the oven ) I poured the syrup and kept it there so it won’t get cold while I am busy breastfeeding my little one ? though I can’t say anything about the taste just yet, but it looks yummy ? thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe with us!
Me again ) tried my disaster :)) well it’s very good except … my cheese didn’t melt ? I used akawi. While you are using here mozzarella cause it’s difficult to find akawi, I used akawi, because there was no mozzarella in my supermarket :)) well I thought it would be just perfect, and the guys that sold it to me said that the one I am buying is good for kunafa. Help me, is there still anything I could do to save my kunafa? What to do if the cheese didn’t melt? I baked it for one hour and when I cut it I can still see the dives of my cheese inside! I mean it didn’t melt at all!!
Oh no! Sorry about that Fatima! It must be the type of Akkawi…so don’t blame yourself. Some types of akkawi harden and turn really rubbery when baked in the oven and that’s why you felt like it didn’t melt. Next time, if you’ll like to use Akkawi, make sure that it’s the Tchiki type. This one remains soft and is really nice and stretchy. Wishing you better luck next time.
How long do you typically bake when using 6″ rounds?
Hi Nadia! It really depends on the type of pan you use and your oven. I use a light weight aluminum cake pan and it takes about 25 minutes to bake.
I was nervous when I made this. Sourcing the ingredients took me to three shops; Turkish shop for the kataifi pastry, Asian shop for the pistachios and local grocery shop for mozzarella. I kept putting off making it until I realised fresh mozzarella waits for no one, so my trembling fingers got started in prepping the ingredients. While I was stirring semolina on the stove I skimmed through the comments and had a mini panic attack. No springform pan. But but … that’s my biggest pan I sputtered. I took deep breaths, prepared the kunafa, left it in the fridge and ordered a suitable pan off Prime. When it came I transferred the kunafa in the new pan and was ready to put it on the oven. As soon as I took it out, I had a captive audience watching me pour the sugar syrup, flipping it, pouring more syrup and crowing it with pistachios. And when I took the first bite, all the long walks to the shops, the agonising decisions over the cake pans, everything was worth it. Stretchy cheese encased in delicious crunchy kunafa absolute heaven. Each bite was perfection. If I could lock a taste memory to replay it is this! Within moments my family had scraped the plates clean and were after seconds. The crispy kunafa threads, the way the cheese coiled on to the spoon, the sweetness of the sugar syrup and the buttery ghee. It was perfection. Thank you Tasbih for sharing this incredible recipe. Through your blog and use of widely used worldwide ingredients, I have been able to create and enjoy tastes from far-flung places.
Oh my goodness…what a journey ? That was one heck of an adventure! Hahaaa! So glad it was well worth it in the end ? Your writing style is incredible and so captivating btw. I felt like I was reading a suspense novel, not a recipe comment. Love it!
I’ve tried kunafe once at a restaurant and fell in love with it! However the kunafe was served with sugar syrup and cream. It’s been awhile since I had it and I can’t remember what type of Kunafe it was. Do you know what type of kunafe is served with cream and if yes, do you know how to make the cream?
Thank you! ^.^
Hi Naz! You’ve come to the right place. I think this is the one you’re looking for. Excuse the old photos though; it looks much better in real life and it tastes like a dream.
I would love to try this recipe can I replace the heavy whipping cream with ricotta?
Hi! I’m mexican, I live in a small Town. So I can’t found the semoline. What can I do? ? I made the kataifa paste with philo paste.
Hello! What do you say about using a half sheet rectangular tray? If thats too big do you recommend a certain non-circle tray size?
Hello! I was wondering if when the milk mixture is finished , do you think we could mix the mozzarella in that? Then pour everything on the kanafa dough?
Loved fhis recipe and texture. Delicious!
But im not sure where i went wrong but my kunafa kinda sink when it was cooling. Any idea what could have gone wrong?
Anyway, there are other food delivery Dubai services that can “pick up” food for you, but also I can’t tell you if the best food delivery Dubai or not. Just google it.
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Hello, can I know where did you get the silver dish for knafa?
Thanks for the recipe. Kunafa turned out perfect
Salam, Thanks for making a Kunafa recipe so simple and easy for me. My 7 yr old has requested kunafa for his birthday. It was my first time so I searched , watched videos and ask some of my middle eastern friends for recipe.
I have tried your recipe after doing google and this is it!. It super easy to make and finished in no time.
Jazak Allah khair1
Thank you for this recipe. I have made it and it made my day! Your guidance was clear and precise, it made the process easier for me.