Saturday, 1 August 2015



The first time I heard of this dessert was when my nephew and his fiancé (now his better-half) posted a photograph of this dessert on Facebook. This is one of the most delicious Middle Eastern desserts ever. The crisp sweet exterior, made of Kataifi (shredded phyllo dough) mingling with delicious molten cheese is gastronomically orgasmic. I served Künefe by itself as Grumpy (by now i'm quite sure you all know Grumpy stands for 'husband' :P ) and Anu are diabetic but you can serve this with ice cream or with whipped cream. The fragrance of orange blossom lingers at each bite. ‘Theobroma’, in certain cultures translates to ‘Food of the Gods’; to me this was a dessert fit for the Gods. If Kataifi is available in stores near you then this one is a must-try!

For Syrup:

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
A dash of orange blossom water
2-3 drops of lime juice 

For Künefe:

450 grams shredded phyllo dough
300 grams unsalted mozzarella cheese, shredded
100 grams ricotta cheese, shredded
1 cup butter, melted
½ cup milk

For Garnish:

3 tablespoons pistachios, chop half the pistachios and finely grind the other half


  1. Add the sugar to the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add in a few drops of lemon juice to clear the syrup. 
  2. As soon as the syrup clears, remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  3. When cool, add a dash of orange blossom water. Cover and keep aside.
  4. Cut the shredded phyllo dough pastry into tiny pieces with a pair of scissors.
  5. Add melted butter to a non-stick pan, when it heats up a bit add the chopped phyllo and stir continuously. Keep mixing until the phyllo shreds have turn crispy and the butter dries out.

  6. Add milk and mix till the butter and milk are completely incorporated into the chopped pyhllo shreds. Remove from heat.
  7. Place half the buttered phyllo dough in a round spring-pan or a Pyrex dish. Press the phyllo shreds into the base of the dish to form an even layered base.

  8. Combine mozzarella and ricotta cheese evenly on top of the phyllo shreds and evenly press the cheese on top of the phyllo shred base.

  9. Layer the rest of the buttered phyllo shreds and once again press evenly on top of the cheese.

  10. Pre-heat the oven to 190º C for ten minutes. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove Künefe from oven and pour the cool sugar syrup over the hot Künefe.

  11. Allow the Künefe absorb the syrup for about 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the finely ground pistachios. (Variation: If you prefer a crispy version of Künefe, pour the syrup on top just before serving.) Serve Künefe by itself or with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Cheat Kataifi:

Tried and tested by Nandita, a foodie friend at Facebook. Heartfelt thanks Nandita for allowing me to share the cheat Kataifi idea on my blog.

Get you local mithai shop to make UNSWEETENED Suterfeni for you and use that as a substitute to Kataifi. It works quite beautifully. This is quite, quite the same in taste as Kataifi. The texture of Suterfeni strands is very similar to Kataifi hence this substitute works. At the cost of sounding repetitive, please remember it has to be unsweetened because if you use the regular sweet Sutarfeni the end result of Künefe will be sickeningly sweet. Now you don’t have to wait to get your paws on Kataifi, go make it guys. :) 

Chef Notes:

  1. Sautéing the shredded phyllo dough properly till the butter dries out is an important procedure for the pastry to turn out crisp.
  2. Künefe, is not easily available but you may find it in the ‘Middle Eastern cuisine’ section of gourmet shops.
  3. I used two types of cheese but you can choose to use only Mozzarella cheese if you so wish.
  4. Please serve this dessert hot, as soon as the Künefe has absorbed all the sugar syrup and while the cheese is still hot.
  5. I have specially added the photographs at the blog of the shredded phyllo dough carton, and its inner contents, so that readers may get a perfect idea of what is to be used.
  6. Before you ask me whether you can use vermicelli in place of shredded phyllo dough, the answer to that is, ‘no’. :P
  7. You may share the direct blog-link of the recipe/s but do NOT publish my recipes and my photographs on any blog-site or website without my explicit consent or attempt to pass off my recipe/s as your own. You will be held accountable for plagiarism.

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