Levant, Palestine, Middle East – Knafeh Na’ameh


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by Adelina Aida

Knafeh is a delicious Cheese pastry dish. This is a pastry soaked in sweet syrup and layered with cheese and semolina. This is cooked by roasting and served as the juicy sweet treat of the day. This has a crispy crust of cheese softened by adding sweet syrup over it and different dry nuts are added over this mostly, pistachio. The combination of totally different ingredients makes it a unique dish like cheese and sugar together. But in this dish, the combination is best. Like any dessert, the use of butter, milk, flour, nuts, semolina, with the twist of cheese layering. We can get a cheese pull and it tastes amazing.

This is popular in the Middle East and Even throughout the world because of its popularity. The rose syrup with nuts is like a traditional Arabic dessert. Different flavoring is also added to make it one specified dessert, like Pistachio Knafeh, Almond knafeh, Rose knafeh, etc. Clotted cream is also added over the layering for more richness.

There are different combinations of varieties in different regions. It is usually called Palestine dessert but included in many other Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines.

ALTERNATIVE NAMES FOR KNAFEH

  • Knafeh
  • Kunafeh
  • Kanafeh
  • Konafi
  • Konafa
  • Kanfi
  • Kanfa, etc.

There are different names of Knafeh depends on the side ingredients used in it :

  • Almond Knafeh
  • Pistachio Knafeh
  • Walnuts Knafeh
  • Tahini Knafeh
  • Sunflower seeds knafeh
  • Sesame Knafeh

Knafeh names in different regions :

  • String pastry in Arabic world
  • Tel kadayıf in Turkish language
  • künefe in Turkey
  • Kadaif in Balkans
  • Kataifi in Greece
  • Knafeh Nabulsiyeh in Palestine

Other names depends on the texture and main ingredients :

  • Kunafa Khishneh called as Long stringed noodles like texture
  • Kunafa Naameh named for the use of Farkhah flour (Semolina)
  • Kunafa Bayn Narain for double layering of cheese.
  • Kunafa Mabroomeh named for thin rolls of cheese

KNAFEH INCLUDED IN OTHER CUISINES

  • Turkish cuisine
  • Greece Cuisine
  • Palestinian cuisine
  • Egyptian cuisine
  • Asian cuisine
  • Levantine cuisine
  • Balkan cuisine
  • Middle Eastern cuisine
  • Arabic cuisine

LEVANTINE CUISINE

Levantine cuisine is usually inspired by Ottoman Empire cuisine and Arabic cuisine. In the Arabic language, Levant is known as BILAD AL SHAM. There are three famous dishes from Levantine cuisine are :

  • Tabbouleh
  • Hummus
  • Baba ganoush

ETYMOLOGY OF KNAFEH

In the Arabic language, this is called كنافة, or knāfa.

In the Coptic Egyptian language, the word kenephiten means ”bread or cake”

The Turkish name for this dish, tel kadayıfı means “string-pancakeor crêpe”

The Arabic language word qatayif means ”pancake or crêpe”

Names like kanafeh, kenafeh, knafeh, kunafah, kunafeh, konafa, kunafa, are English Language words and commonly used to name this dish unlike other names in Turkish or Arabic languages.

HISTORY OF KNAFEH

There is an ancient story of Knafeh, from the Fatimid Egyptian Empire or Umayyad Caliphate. In the 10th century, Kitab al-Tabikh (Book of Dishes), has all the ancient dishes from Middle East and the Arabic world and it also has Turkish dishes recipes and the traditional recipe for Knafeh.

1OTH CENTURY :

In the 10th century, Kitab al-Tabikh (Book of Dishes), the chapter of Dessert related to qatāyif, this recipe of the dish was written. The writer called this dish the CREPE and the use of honey, nuts, fried dough, and cheese stuffed.

13TH CENTURY :

In the 13th century, Kitab al tabikh fi-l-Maghrib wa-l-Andalus was the book also has the information of this ancient dish, Knafeh. The writer called this knafeh is made thinner, “like a fine paper”. Baked and fresh cheese is added with rose syrup and honey.

MODERN KNAFEH :

Modern knafeh is fried with butter and toppings such as almonds, pistachio, sweetened cheese, clotted cream, and after frying it is topped with a mixture of rosewater and sugar.

VARIANTS OF KNAFEH

KADAIF

In Greece, this is the dish used to be called by the name, KADAIF. Like καταΐφι (kataïfi) and κανταΐφι (kadaïfi) names in the Greek language. This is the type of sweet pastry dessert in which thin and fine threads like appearance. It is dipped into the sweet syrup and looks similar to the bird’s nest.

In this dish, the layering in the pastry is filled by adding different nuts. Nuts can be mixed dried fruits and only one like pistachio and almonds, etc. Like the layering of the Baklawa.

This dish is similar to the Baklawa and also to Knafeh. Like Baklawa the nuts layering is done but it is dipped into the sugar syrup like Knafeh. This dish is like a combination of these two separate dishes.

KUNEFE

In Turkey, there are many similar dishes but their names are different by their features.

  • Like the simple sweet syrup-dipped pastry is known as Kunefe.
  • But when the fine wires or threads are appeared from the pastry they called it tel kadayıf.
  • When soft cream cheese, or sour cream is added into this dish, it is named as Urfa peyniri.

KANAFEH NABULSIEH

This is named after the city of Palestine, Nablus. It is made by :

  • White cheese
  • White crust
  • Sugar syrup

FOOD ITEMS ADDED TO THIS DISH

DRY FRUITS/NUTS

Almost all the dry nuts, dried fruits, and soft fruits are added to this dish for more flavors and crunch.

  • Pinenuts
  • Pistachio
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashew
  • Coconut strips
  • Dry dates
  • Raisins
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Melon seeds

AROMATIC INGREDIENTS THE SUGAR SYRUP

To add prominent flavors, these ingredients are added in the sugar-sweet syrup

  • Rose petals
  • Saffrons strips
  • Cardamon powder
  • Star anise
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon sticks, etc.

GARNISHING WITH

Garnish this dish with :

  • Silver paper
  • Crushed nuts
  • Petals, etc.

TYPES OF DIFFERENT KNAFEH

MBRWMA

This is the knafeh prepared with NOODLES.

MHAYARA

This is cooked by using two ingredients as the main components :

  • khishnah 
  • Na’ama.

NA’AMA

This is prepared with Semolina dough and sugar syrup

TYPES OF CHEESE USED IN THIS DISH

  • Kaymak
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cheese of Hatay
  • Urfa
  • Clotted cream

INGREDEINTS FOR KNAFEH NA’AMEH

  1. Phyllo dough = 500 grams
  2. Morzerells cheese = 500 grams
  3. Butter = 250 grams
  4. Almonds = 50 grams
  5. Pistachio = 50 grams
  6. Rose petals = few
  7. Sugar = 500 grams
  8. Water = 500 ml
  9. Rose water = 1/2 cup
  10. Cardamon powder = 1 teaspoon

COOKING PROCEDURE

  1. Make sure to preheat the oven at 300 degree Fahrenheit.
  2. Take the Phyllo dough and shred it completely to sepearte the strands and make it looks like threads.
  3. Melt the butter and take it to normal room temperature.
  4. Start pouring the butter into the Phyllo dough thread and mix them with the hands to form a dough with these strands.
  5. This dough is sepearted and mixed with butter, now take the pan and pour the 3rd part of the dough at bottom and spread it equally to form the layers with cheese.
  6. Press it little and add half of the cheese over it and press it again.
  7. Make three layers of cheese with this butter phyllo threads. The top layer of this dish is phyllo threads.
  8. Bake this tray in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. In this time, prepare the sugar syrup bu adding all the ingredirents of sweet syrup (sugar, rose water, water, cardamon powder) into the cooking pot and make it boil to dissolve all the sugar and ingredients are mixed.
  10. Take the Knafeh tray out of oven and pour this syrup over it.
  11. Let it soaked into syrup for 10 minutes and then serve!

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