Kunafa (also spelled knafeh, Kunafeh, kunafeh, knafeh, or kunafah) is a Mediterranean cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup, typical of the regions belonging to the former Ottoman Empire. Kunafa is especially popular during the month of Ramadan.
Naboulsi or akawi cheese is layered between the crispy thin Kataifi pastry dough. The flavoured sugar syrup and crunchy nuts are added for perfect finish. You may substitute kataifi with thin vermicelli, and naboulsi or akawi Cheese with ricotta and fresh mozzarella.
Vermicelli (or Kataifi) - 200 gms
Butter - 50 gms (unsalted)
Ricotta - 200 gms
Mozzarella - 100 gms (shredded)
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cup
Water - 1 cup
Lemon - 2 table spoon
Cinnamon - 1 stick
For garnish (add or remove based on choice):
Almonds - 5 (blanched)
Dates - 5 (dried and chopped)
Golden Raisins - 10
Cashew - 5
Walnuts - 5
Green Pistachio - 5
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- Grease and line 8 inch sandwich tin (use a piece of baking paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated), line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper.
- Break vermicelli into small pieces and roast in butter. You may add 2 tablespoon of water, so that vermicelli is soft, make sure that it is not mushy.
- Spread half of vermicelli in the baking dish, press down lightly.
- Spread ricotta cheese evenly.
- Spread mozzarella evenly.
- Cover with remaining vermicelli.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until lightly golden-brown.
- In the meanwhile prepare the sugar syrup, in a heavy bottomed saucepan add water over medium heat.
- After two minutes add sugar and lemon juice.
- Add cinnamon stick (or 5 strands of saffron depending on your personal preference).
- Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Let simmer to a syrupy consistency.
- Remove from heat and let it cool, remove cinnamon stick. Make sure that the syrup does not get hardened.
- When vermicelli is baked, take it out of oven and immediately pour cold sugar syrup evenly over the hot vermicelli.
- Let cool completely to room temperature.
- Loosen the edges and invert onto the serving plate.
- For garnishing lightly roast all the dried fruits and nut, chop them into small pieces.
- Sprinkle the garnish all over. Slice in squares and serve.
- You may boil half cup of milk with 3 table spoon of semolina and 3 table spoon sugar, make it thick and then let it cool. Mix cheese with it until it gets a smoother texture.
- Another option is to make a filling of mawa or Khoya instead of cheese, add chenna (coagulated milk) and 3 table spoon sugar to it.
- May replace cheese with cream (malai).
- Remember the syrup shouldn't be hot, it should be of room temperature. Neither should it get crystallised.
- You may garnish with small pieces of mango or banana instead of dry fruits.