Knafeh is a classic Middle Eastern dessert made with noodle-thin strands of pastry fried in butter and filled with oozy cheese. I came across this dish many years ago in Turkey. I thought it was mighty weird, and to be honest, it did nothing for me. A few years later, I went to Nablus, a city in Palestine. In the sun-soaked souk I tried knafeh again and loved it. The combination of textures was incredible and the sugar syrup used to sweeten everything up had been perfumed with rose water. This is my take on classic knafeh, covered in bright green pistachios. I use the shelled Iranian variety as they have the best colour and falvour.
- Put the sugar water, rose water and lemon into a pan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
- Melt 55g of butter in a pan over a low heat. Put the knafeh pastry into a bowl and separate the strands without breaking them up. Pour over the butter and mix well.
- Heat half the remaining butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add half the pasty and form into a circle. Add the cheese in a layer leaving a 1cm gap around the edge of the pastry. Top with the remaining pastry and push down to form a neat circular layer over the cheese. Cook for 4-5 minutes until golden.
- Top with a plate and flip out the pastry. The bottom should be lovely and crisp. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Once melted, slide the knafeh back into the pan for 4-5 minutes so that the other side can crisp up.
- Turn the heat up to high and pour the sugar syrup into the pan. It will bubble furiously. Cook for 2-3 minutes until completely absorbed. Tip onto a serving plate and top with the pistachios. Serve immediately.
30g caster sugar
1 tsp rose water
The juice of ½ a lemon
150g knafeh pastry
60g mozzarella cheese, ripped into small pieces
5g pistachio slithers, ground