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