Knafeh Arabic dessert

Knafehis a very old Arabic dessert. Explaining the dish is a hard sell. I mean,fried noodle-like pastry stuffed with cheese and cooked in sugar syrup soundsstrange. But think about it: crisp buttery pastry filled with oozy cheese (there forits textural delight, not flavour) to soak up a sweet syrup … well, now we’ve gonesomewhere interesting. The basis of my recipe is very traditional, but I couldn’thelp riffing on it a little and updating it with a drizzle of smokydulce de lecheanda scoop of vanilla icecream. I always try to make my recipes inclusive, but thepastry forknafehis very specific and one you have to buy from a Middle Easternstore. The thin strands of pastry are super-finevermicelliand give the finishedknafehthe most amazing crunch


  1. Put the caster sugar, water, rose water and lemon juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Cook for a few minutes until clear.
  2. Separate out the knafeh pastry in a mixing bowl.
  3. Melt 55g of the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and pour over the knafeh pastry. Toss together.
  4. Melt 5g of butter in a small non-stick frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add half the pastry and even it out. Top with the cheese and then add the remaining pastry. Use a spoon to pat down the sides of the knafeh to make it  neat and gently push down the top so it’s even. Cook for 4–6 minutes until golden on the bottom.
  5. Using a plate, carefully flip the knafeh out of the frying pan onto the plate. Melt the remaining butter in the pan. Side the knafeh back in and use the spoon to tidy up the edges. Cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden on the bottom.
  6. Turn the heat up to high and pour over the sugar syrup and cook for  1 minute until absorbed.
  7. Flip the knafeh out onto a serving plate. Top with a few scoops of ice cream, drizzle over the salted caramel and scatter over the pistachios. Serve immediately.


Makes one knafeh – serve 4

30g caster sugar
80ml water
1 teaspoon rose water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
160g knafeh pastry
65g butter
65g mozzarella
vanilla ice cream to serve
60g salted caramel
5g Iranian pistachios, ground

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