I've been looking to try something new for a long while, months and months back in passing I saw one of the many videos that percolate through Facebook and YouTube involving street food..
It was barely a second or two but something about one of the dishes caught my eye—an that was KataÏfi or Knafeh or really as I was to discover dozens of other names and styles..
So after procrastinating for far to long I finally set out to try to bring together a version all my own..
I then went about scouring the internet; searching YouTube videos, and food blogs, predominately from the local chefs and cooks kind enough to add English translations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, Greece, Israel and the Levant when I could..
After learning as much as I could in a short while about the many different versions and styles this street food is created in throughout the region, I then finally decided upon the style I would attempt..
Taking my cues from several versions I saw, I then tweaked and touched up my version and went about trying to make it my own..
From chopping the shredded philo, to the decision to mix and match several eastern style white cheeses from the region, and finally to the small changes to my syrup..
It was surprisingly much easier to work with then I expected, especially as it was my first time working with philo dough of any kind—but I always love trying new things from around the world, it's part of the fun of cooking..
Everyone in my family loved it, as well as my Greek boss at work who took several pieces home to his family to enjoy—an I have to say I really enjoyed it myself too, was just the right mix of ingredients and the syrup was just to yummy for words on top of all that dough and cheese..
This Turkish inspired street food is much easier to make then you might expect so I encourage you to try it out at home for yourself—I know you'll find that it is oh so "Definitely Delish"
"Kataifi - Knafeh - Kunafa - Kadaïfi"
Knafeh Dough (Shredded Philo)
1 cup Unsalted Butter
Orange Blossom Syrup:
1 1/2 cups Water
2 1/2 cups Raw Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Rose Water
1-2 tsps Orange Blossom Water
1 teaspoon Orange liqueur
1 teaspoon of finely grated Orange Zest
1 1/2 tsps fine Himalayan Pink Salt
1/2 cup of Semolina flour
Mix of White Cheeses (unsalted if possible) 4 cups, shredded & loosely packed into a large measuring cup (I used a mix of Armenian string cheese, Greek Kasseri cheese, Akkawi and frsh Mozzarella cheeses)
Chopped & crushed Pistachios, roasted & salted
1. To prepare the sugar syrup:
2. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat..
3. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Leave to boil then add the lemon juice and keep on medium heat for 10 min until the syrup thickens..
4. Add the orange zest, orange liqueur, orange blossom water and rose water. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl..
For the Dough:
1. Put the knafeh pastry in a large bowl. Pull out and separate the strands as much as possible with your fingers so they do not stick together..
2. Chop the kataifi/Knafeh into shorter segments to fit inside the food processor. (I chopped with my knife on a cutting board, though you can do whichever is easier for yourself) Process half or more of the dough is shredded into small, crumbly strands instead of clumped together..
3. Divide the dough in half, keep some of the longer shreds for the top in one bowl.
4. Melt your butter and then pour the melted butter over each half of dough and work it in very thoroughly with your fingers, pulling out and separating the strands and turning them over so they do not stick together and are entirely coated with butter..
5. Lightly grease the sides of a parchment lined 9 x 13 inch baking dish or 12 in round baking pan..
6. Take the finer chopped half of dough and cover the bottom of the baking dish, and press with your hands to pack it down. Press some of it up the sides of the pan as well..
7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place your rack just above the middle of the oven..
For the Filling:
1. Add the mix of shredded cheeses together in a saucepan on medium heat..
2. Stir until some of the water oozes out. Discard the water..
3. Add in the fine semolina and 1/2 cup of the syrup and mix. When the cheese mixture melts together, remove from heat and pour over the knafeh/Kataifi dough..
4. Spread evenly and allow to cool for 5 minutes or more..
1. Sprinkle the other half of dough evenly over the cheese layer. Press it down softly to even the layer out..
2. Leave out for 5 more minutes before putting it into the oven. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top of the dough is visibly lightly browned..
3. Remove Knafeh from the oven, and let cool for at least 5 minutes (see notes about flipping)
4. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 of the remaining orange blossom syrup evenly over the dessert (depending on how sweet you would like it.)
5. Top the Knafeh with chopped, crushed pistachios..
6. Serve immediately, if possible, while still hot and with extra syrup on the side.
7. Slice, drizzle with extra syrup, and enjoy!
1. Flipping it is optional, but can make the finished dessert more visually appealing. (Though doing like I did and using parchment paper to line your dish and transferring to a plate looks as good or better to me-personal preference)
2. First, loosen the kunafa from the edges of the dish with a knife..
3. Cover the top of the baking dish with a large, flat baking sheet or other large, rectangular serving dish..
4. Flip the baking dish while it is covered by the sheet, so it will end up on the baking sheet..
5. If you're going to flip I would suggest some of the longer strands for the bottom (reverse which half of dough from the earlier steps to use for the bottom)
6. If you're not going to flip then you can line your pan with greased parchment paper—and after baking and allowing to cool for 5 minutes, lift out or lift slide out side onto plate using parchment paper..