Kunafa is described as a Bahraini cheesecake. It is actually made with noodles and cheese. It is a common dish throughout the Middle East and is believed to have originated during the Ottoman Empire. In Bahrain they color the desert with food coloring.
The noodle is kataifi dough. It is described as shredded phyllo dough. I don’t find it in grocery stores ,and research if I can make it from scratch. It seems this is not suggested, so I find a Middle Eastern grocery store that isn’t too far from me, but it is small and cramped. I’m not sure where I would find it so slowly search through the aisles and find it in the refrigerated section. I’m excited that I found it, so I can make this dish.
First step is to soak the mozzarella overnight and then to mix the cheeses together. .
Then I make the syrup. It is just boiling water, sugar, and lemon juice together. I don’t use the rose water. I actually remember I had a noodle dessert with rose water at a Middle Eastern restaurant once. I thought it tasted like soap and later discovered that is what the rose tastes like. So, I have found that I don’t like floral flavors like rose and lavender, it tastes like perfume to me.
Next I mix together the food coloring to make orange.
Well it is still fairly red, but maybe when I mix it with the butter it will lighten to be more orange.
Chop up the noodles and soak them in milk and butter.
Add 2/3 of the noodles to the bottom of the pan
add the cheese
then top with remaining noodles and bake.
While it is baking I grind the pistachios to decorate the top.
It comes out of the oven and I flip over to plate.
It is still more red than orange and a bit messy, but I will decorate it with the pistachios. The picture from the original recipe has a beautiful pattern from the pistachios. I try and get creative and make polka dots, but I’m not really skilled enough to make it come out. So I go with this pattern and it isn’t really that pretty, but will do.
The cake is interesting. The cake is not sweet and so the syrup is needed to make this feel like a desert. The noodles and the cheese are good, but I’m not blown away by it. It actually is a bit bland. However I liked the butter food coloring idea. I may use that again for something else.
Well that’s a picture of me before the whole cancer chemo experience. I was celebrating on of my 40 birthday’s. I highly recommend celebrating yourself 40 times. It makes every day feel special and man I needed it going through all my treatments. Well the next step in the treatment was to get a PET scan so they can figure out if I am stage III or IV.
I went in for my CT and PET scan. The first part is that they make me go to a room and cover me in blankets. I’m not sure how they knew I was cold, but I felt all snuggly. Then they gave me some soapy looking water to drink. Figuring out that I don’t like the taste of soap I am relieved that it is a sudsy drink, but doesn’t have any perfume flavor. I had an hour to drink it. So I sat in my snuggly chair drinking this odd drink.
After an hour they came to get me and took me over to the scanner. There they positioned me, so my arm was over my head. I’m still recovering from the surgery, so the position is painful! I manage to hold it for the 15 minutes as they do the CT scan, but let them know I can’t do it for the 30 minute PET scan. So for that I comfortably get my arm to the side and they image away. I will explain my results with another recipe. Go out and celebrate something!
Original recipe can be found here
- 1 lb Mozzarella
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted) – for the pan
- 1/4 tsp of red and yellow food coloring ( if you can find orange use a 1/2 tsp of that)
- 1 lb kataifi shredded dough
- ½ cup milk
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (melted) – and lukewarm
- 15 pistachio (ground)
- Desalt the mozzarella if salty. Cut the cheese into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes and soak in cold water, in the refrigerator overnight. Change the water twice. After soaking, rinse with cold water then drain and pat dry using paper towels.
- Shred the mozzarella and combine with the ricotta or cottage cheese.
- Using medium heat, boil the sugar, water and lemon juice for 10 minutes. Let it cool down completely.
- Butter and colour the bottom and the sides of a 10 in. round, 2 in. deep pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter and ½ teaspoon kunafa pastry colouring.
- Cut the kataifi dough into 4 equal pieces. Add the milk and lukewarm butter. Make sure that there are no lumps and that the kataifi is fluffy.
- Place ⅔ of the kataifi in the pan. Press down and along the sides of the pan.
- Place all of the cheese. Level and press down.
- Cover with the remaining ⅓ of the kataifi. Press well with the palms of your hand or use a spatula.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 40 minutes.
- Let the kunafa cool down for 10 minutes before inverting it into a large platter or cake stand.
- Decorate with ground pistachios.
- You can pour the cool syrup over the entire kunafa or pour on individual servings.