Jun 12, 2010


Mmmm... a bite of crunch combined with creaminess, straight out of the oven, with a drizzle of orange-blossom scented syrup... knafeh bil jibne is a firm favourite here at home when it comes to desserts. Actually, this is not the first time I write about this middle eastern dessert on my blog, but last time I presented it in a fun bite size form- which, I'm pretty sure, you would never find in any Middle Eastern shop or restaurant. They just dont make them like that as the traditional way is really to prepare it in a gigantic round pan that could feed an entire country! I've tried taking lots of photos to show a step-by-step method of making this delicious dessert at home...just incase you get that sudden craving and there is no place nearby to indulge into a ready made slice!

The key ingredient here is knafeh- you can find this in Middle Eastern food shops.

A mixture of the right cheeses explains the creamy inner magic of a knafeh bil jibne. You will need a mixture of akkawi cheese (here on the left, the texture is more goey) and haloumi cheese (on the right, with a firmer texture). These cheeses are salty, so you will need to leave them in a bowl of cold water for 48hours in the fridge to remove saltiness. Make sure to change the water at least twice during the 48hours.

Place your knafeh in a mixer
And shred it. Some shops might sell knafeh that is already shredded- so in that case skip this step.

In a bowl, mix all the shredded knafeh with a generous (and I mean it literally here- you need to be extremely generous) amount of melted butter- or even better, if you have ghee then use that instead. Make sure the knafeh is well coated with the melted butter or ghee and take half of the quantity and spread a layer of it on a baking tray.
Then top on diced akkawi and haloumi cheese
And cover that with the remaining half of the knafeh
Bake at 190C for 20 minutes, then check every 5 minutes. It will be ready when it has a nice golden colour. Once out of the oven, immediately pour over some orange-blossom scented (or rose water if you prefer) syrup
It needs to be well soaked in the syrup, so dont be shy!
If you want, you can sprinkle some pistachio on top
Slice it up and enjoy immediately- eating it cold is a big no-no!

Hopefully the photos make it easy to understand, so I'm not including a recipe, but here is an overview of the ingredients you will need:

Raw knafeh
Akkawi cheese, diced
Haloumi cheese, diced
Butter or ghee, melted
Pistachios- optional

The important thing here is to coat the shredded knafeh very generously with the melted butter or ghee- otherwise the end result is too dry.
I understand these ingredients may not be easily available everywhere, so a cheat method if you cant find akkawi and haloumi cheese is to use mozzarella instead. In that case, you don't need to soak in water as mozzarella tends to be less salty.
For the syrup place equal amounts of sugar and water and boil for a good 10 mins (until it’s texture is rather thick). At the end, add some orange blossom or rose water to the syrup.

FYI-Although they might all be eating the same thing, this name for this scrumptious dessert does vary from country to country!


Piggy said...

I used to have this yummy dessert when I was staying in Saudi Arabia! Now that I'm in a different country, it's too bad that I only come across your recipe now, otherwise I would have give it a try.

365 Tage said...

interesting recipe, not sure if I can find the knafeh in Munich - not a great middle eastern community here. love your new blog-face!

Anonymous said...

I love Middle Eastern food, especially hummus :) Isn't this called bird's nest as well? Beautiful name...

Anonymous said...

Great recipe. Shit job of explaining what "knafe" is. Saying you can get it at Middle Eastern food shops is all well and good but you don't tell "non-middle easterners" what in the heck it is. I had to google "knafe" just to get an explanation of what I was looking at. Next time maybe saying something like "it's a form of shredded dough" would be helpful for those of us that haven't a clue.
Great recipe though!

Charles said...

Genial!! I can't wait to try to make this!!

NikiTheo said...

Wow anonymous, that was kind of unnecessary.

Anyways, I love shredded doughs like this. In Greece, we use it to wrap around bakalva filling. It's is delicious! And I love the use of cheese in a dessert. Do you think this would taste good with a thinned out honey instead of a flavored simple syrup?

Marianna said...

Hi NikiTheo- yes, if you really prefer you can heat up some honey, thin it out and use that instead. Can I suggest that you add some drops of orange blossom water to your thinned out honey? :)

Sara D'amore said...

Wow! I'm so tempted to make one now :) thanks for the recipe. The pictures look divine.

Alépine said...

It looks very delicious ! Great knafeh !

Nanna said...

I had this many times in Syria! It is seriously amazing. Thanks for posting maybe one day I will find the ingredients!

Miriam Kresh said...

Can I use one of your photos for the Green Prophet blog? www.greenprophet.com. I'll credit the photo to you, of course. Thanks!

Miriam Kresh said...

I'd like to use one of the photos to illustrate a post on www.greenprophet.com. May I? With proper accreditation, of course.

Marianna said...

Hi Miriam- yes you can, as you said, just include a link back to my blog post! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, this blogger created something beautiful to share thier culture with us in other parts of the globe. Swearing at them in thier space for a good recipe isn't diplomatic or kind. You are talking to a real person that created something to share with you, just as I am addressing you. Googling is pretty easy, and can open us up to many new sites from a culture we aren't familiar with. Isn't that a good thing? I've loved learning new things about Middle Eastern dishes this morning.

Thanks to the author for creating this blog. I cannot wait to try this dish. It's unique and sounds so delicious. I wouldn't know about this dish if it weren't for you!