The pastry is heated with some butter, margarine or palm oil for a while and then spread with soft cheese (Nabulsi cheese – see below) and more pastry. Thick syrup, consisting of sugar, water and a couple of drops of lemon juice, is poured on the pastry during the final minutes of cooking.

Nabulsi (or naboulsi) cheese is one of the traditional white brined cheeses known in various countries of the Middle East, particularly in Palestine, Jordan and other neighboring countries. It is produced mainly from sheep and goat milk, although cow's milk can be used. Nabulsi cheese is white and rectangular in shape. It is semi-hard with no gas holes. It becomes soft and elastic when heated. It has the characteristic for ewe’s and goat’s milk but is influenced by the particular flavor of mahlab and mastic added to the boiling brine. It is commonly used as a salty table cheese and as a major ingredient of knafeh.


1 pkg Kataifi (1 pound package)
1/2 lb. butter, melted (227 grams)
1 1/2 cup sugar (375 ml)
1 cup water (250 ml)
Juice of ½ lemon
1/2 tsp rosewater or vanilla (2 ml)
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds (60 ml)
1/2 cup golden raisins (125 ml)
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (or 2 ½ cups/625 ml pistachios and omit raisins) (500 ml)
2 1/2 tbsp sugar (37 ml)
2 tsp ground cinnamon (10 ml)
1 lb. soft ricotta cheese (these is an alternative filling omit the nuts, raisins, cinnamon and sugar) (454 gram)
Butter, for buttering the pan


In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, add water, sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Let simmer to a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat, let cool and add rosewater or vanilla.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 12-inch round, 2-inch high cake pan.

In a large bowl gently loosen kataifi. Mix very well with the ½ pound of melted butter. Place blanched almonds in a decorative pattern in the cake pan. Cover with half of the kataifi. Press down lightly.

If using the Ricotta spread in an even layer over kataifi, then cover with the remaining half of the kataifi. Press down gently.

If using the raisins and walnuts sprinkle an even layer over kataifi. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Cover with the remainig half of the kataifi. Press down gently.

Bake until lightly golden, about 30 to 45 minutes. (Note: the inverse side will be more golden when you turn it out.)

Immediately pour cold sugar syrup evenly over the hot kunafa. Let cool completely to room temperature. Invert onto serving plate.

If using the Ricotta, kunafa should be served warm or hot. It may be difficult to invert with the ricotta filling so cut and serve from pan.