September 18


What Does Kunafa (AKA knafeh) Taste Like And What’s The Right Pronunciation

By Mashav Shelef

Oh my goodness, have you ever heard of kunafa? It’s simply divine! But before we dive into the delicious world of this sweet treat, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the pronunciation. I know it can be a bit tricky, but don’t worry, I’ll guide you through it. Kunafa (also known as kunafeh or knafeh) is pronounced “koo-nuh-fuh”, but in Israel we pronounce it “kna-feh”.

Knafeh is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made of shredded phyllo dough, known as “kataifi,” that is mixed with butter and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is typically filled with a variety of sweet fillings, such as cheese or nuts. The dish is often garnished with pistachios and served warm. It is similar to baklava but with a unique texture.

Now, let’s talk about the taste. Imagine layers of soft, sweet, and cheesy goodness all wrapped up in a crispy, golden crust. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, and trust me, you’ll be hooked after one bite. So, grab a cup of tea and join me as we explore the delicious world of kunafa.

Knafeh dessert

Shredded Phyllo Dough and Sweet Cheese Pastry with Rose Water and Pistachios


For the cheese filling:

  • 500 g Farmer's Cheese / White Cheese / Ricotta
  • 300 g mozzarella
  • 100 g goat cheese
  • 1 package, 500 g frozen kunafe pastry (thawed one hour on the counter)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4-8 drops orange food coloring, powder, paste or drops

Rose-scented simple syrup:

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • Juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 2-3 tbsp Rose Water
  • ½ cup ground pistachio, to garnish


  1. Prepare the rose-scented simple syrup: put all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to boil for 2-3 minutes than leave to chill.
  2. In the microwave oven or in a pan over low heat, melt the butter gently to avoid burning.
  3. Prepare the pan 12-15 inch pan or roasting dish. Spread 4 Tablespoons of the butter in the pan. Add the orange coloring a little at a time. Using a pastry brush, spread the butter and the coloring evenly all over the pan and up the sides.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  5. Prepare the kunafe pastry. Remove from package and cut into small pieces using a sharp knife.
  6. Place pastry in a large bowl and gradually pour the remaining hot butter over top. Use the full amount of butter or the pastry will be dry or stick to the pan. Using your fingers, mix in the butter to evenly coat the strands of pastry.
  7. Mix cheeses in a bow to create the cheese filling.
  8. Layer the pastry. For the bottom layer, sprinkle handfuls of the buttered pastry and press into the prepared pan going slightly up the sides. Use approximately half the pastry mixture or a bit more to completely cover the pan. (This will be the top when the pastry is flipped.)
  9. Add the cheese filling, spreading the cheese evenly and pressing to cover completely.
  10. Cover with the remaining layer of pastry, evening it out and pressing gently.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until pastry becomes crisp and slightly golden.
  12. Remove pastry from oven and give it a gentle shake. The kunafe will separate from the sides of the pan. If not, separate with a butter knife.
  13. Invert the hot kunafe onto a serving platter.
  14. Pour the cold simple syrup over the hot pastry until the kunafe is saturated and glistening. Reserve the remaining syrup to serve in a small pitcher on the side.
  15. Cut the kunafe into squares or diamonds. Garnish with pistachio nuts and serve while still hot.


Leftovers can be stored for up to four days in the refrigerator and warmed up in the oven or microwave.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

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flipping kunafa together
Leilani and I flipping the Knafe together

Mashav Shelef

I’m a trained chef, a food writer, a culinary traveler, a food explorer and a mom. My mission in life is to inspire and motivate people by helping them experience life through food.

Mashav Shelef

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