Knafeh is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with thin shreds of filo pastry, which is soaked in sweet sugar syrup and ghee, and typically layered with cheese and delicious pistachios. It is eaten hot so the cheese is amazingly gooey and melted.
I got the chance to go to Mezza Restaurant in Bradford, situated in the Mirage Bradford banqueting suite, where their talented chef showed me the process of making a traditional knafeh, and here’s what i learned!
- 400g shredded filo pastry/kataifi (can be found in the freezer section of most middle eastern supermarkets)
- 100g butter ghee
- 500g sugar
- 250ml boiling water
- 2 balls of fresh mozzarella
- 200g ricotta cheese
- 100g Zeina pistachio kernels
- defrost the pastry, and pull the strands apart using your hands to result in strands around 5cm long
2. melt the ghee over a bain marie and add to the pastry
3. add the sugar and boiling water to a pan and simmer over a low heat to create a sugar syrup, then pour into a jug
4. pour half of the sugar syrup over the pastry and mix in thoroughly
5. add the pastry mix to a oven proof round tin and press to condense all the pastry together, we left ours for a few hours with a heavy object on for maximum squish! save a little bit of pastry for sprinkling later
6. grate the mozzarella and mix in the ricotta, then add the cheese to the top of the pastry, make sure to leave a ring around the edge so the cheese doesn’t burn on the tin, it will slowly spread out when it melts
7. there are 2 methods of cooking knafeh; in the oven or on a hob. for oven cooking, bake at 180’c for around 20 minutes, until golden brown. for hob cooking, cover the dish in an ovenproof lid and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes until golden brown and the cheese is melted.
8. sprinkle the leftover pastry onto the top and flip over into another tin, then pour the remaining sugar syrup slowly over the top and decorate with Zeina chopped pistachios
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