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Jun 30, 2013 11:44 AM

Kunefe - a Turkish (and other places) dessert - ISO a recipe

We were just in Istanbul and ate this several times and LOVED it! It's "shredded phyllo" (found that on Amazon), a mozzarella type cheese, ground pistachios and a sugar/water syrup. I've found a couple of recipes, one online and another in a Turkish cookbook I picked up. But wondering does anyone here have a recipe for it? I know it's not the most common item ever :) but anyone does, it will be a CH. TIA.

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  1. My Turkish cookbook, written by Inci Kut has the following recipe:

    17oz shredded tel kadayif (Shredded Wheat)
    14oz dil cheese ("a mild, saltless yellow cheese which becomes
    stretchy when melted")
    31/2oz melted butter

    For the syrup:

    11/2 cups sugar
    1 cup water
    1 tsp lemon juice

    Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and boil for about 15 minutes until it forms a thin syrup. Add the lemon juice and set aside.
    Grease a 10" cake tin and pour six T of the syrup and spreat it over the bottom.
    In a separate bowl mix the shredded wheat with the melted butter until it is well distributed and arrange half in the greased ti, pressing down well.
    Slice the dil cheese and arrange over the wheat. Then place the remainder of the wheat on top, smoothing and pressing the surface. Bake at 212 degrees until the top is golden brown, then turn and cook the bottom until golden brown.
    Remove from the oven and pour the syrup over the top.
    Serve hot.

    Hope this helps.

    3 Replies
    1. re: primebeefisgood

      That's the same author and recipe I have :) I also found this "Americanized" version.

      Thanks. I'd like to serve this when family comes in a few weeks but maybe I should practice first :)

      1. re: c oliver

        I don't know what your local shopping options are, but Greek and middle eastern stores in my area have kadafi in the freezer, and I've even seen it at Whole Foods. It must be cheaper than ordering from Amazon, if you have any resources like that available.

        Now I want to try and make it!

        1. re: Terrie H.

          I just googled and there's a middle eastern market in Reno. I'll check it out. Thanks. Also WF. The shredded phyllo from Amazon is only about $3.50 but the shipping is $10 so, yes, to finding locally.

          It's SO delicious,

    2. I have made kanafe, a variant of kunefe, using this recipe from the chef at a Middle Eastern restaurant in NY. It is really delicious.

      A search for kanafe or kunafe will get you additional recipes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: EM23

        That sounds great! Thanks so much. When we had it the pistachios were finally ground and in a little pile on top to be spread.

        I gotta tell ya when CHs come up with multiple recipes for something I'd not heard of two weeks ago, I know I'm in the right place :)

      2. I would disagree with recipes that use ricotta or another soft cheese for the filling. That is closer to a dessert called ashta. Knafeh bi Jibneh is a whole different animal that should feature long strands of melty cheese twirling about your fork. For that you can use Ackawi or Nabulsi cheese or, if you're not shopping at the Middle Eastern market, mozzarella. The links below have good tips, particularly with respect to how you remove some of the salt from the cheese:

        And for kicks, here's a slide show from my favorite bakery for knafeh:

        3 Replies
        1. re: JungMann

          Yeah, it's definitely a stringy cheese. One recipe suggested buffalo mozzarella. And you are an evil young man for including that picture. To be able to buy just a square sounds too wonderful.

          1. re: c oliver

            I grew up in Turkey, there are as many variations of this dessert as there are cheesecake variations in the US :)

            The cheese is very different here. I have made it with a mix of shredded mozzarella and feta cheese (soaked in water for salt removal) then food processor. This gives a stringy texture but adds some flavor. Binnur has a good recipe below, but I mix the two cheeses together to approximate the flavor and texture I remember.


            1. re: sedimental

              I like the idea of mixing the two in the FP. Thanks, s.

              ETA: It was amusing the first night we got it. Our server spoke great English so I asked if it was honey on it. He said "oh, no, too expensive; just sugar and water." And I think it benefits from that.

        2. The cookbook "Spice" by Ana Sortun (head chef of Oleana in Cambridge, MA) has an awesome recipe. I've made it, it was easy to follow and absolutely delicious. She uses buffalo mozzarella and a champagne/honey/cardamom syrup.