What is Kunafa?


Kunafa is a sugar-soaked pastry popular in many Arabic countries and territories, particularly during Ramadan. Though the specific preparation and spelling of the word vary by location, most kunafa are stacked or filled with cheese (ranging from goat cheese to soft regional cheeses), soaked in a sugar syrup perfumed with rose water or orange blossom water, and topped with crushed nuts such as pistachios.

Kataifi is long, thin strands of shredded phyllo dough used to make the dessert. Kunafa is a term that is used to describe both the dessert and the dough. The dough is frequently fried or cooked till crisp using butter or oil. The kunafa is sometimes made with rich, cake-like semolina dough instead.

If you're seeking a simple kunafa recipe, we have one for you. It's made using kataifi dough (available at most supermarkets) and ricotta cheese. If you can't find the rosewater called for in the recipe, substitute vanilla extract. Alternatively, exclude the rosewater from the sugar syrup and the kunafa will still be sweet and wonderful.



  • 1 lb konafa pastry dough (can be found in most middle eastern, Arab or greek grocery stores or markets)
  • 1⁄2 lb butter, melted
  • 1, 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1⁄2 lemon, juice of
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon rose water or 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 cup blanched whole almond
  • 1⁄2 cup golden raisin
  • 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (or 2 1/2 cups pistachios and omit raisins)
  • 2 1⁄2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 lb soft ricotta cheese (this is an alternative filling if using ricotta omit the nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and the 2 1/2 tbsp)
  • butter, for buttering the pan

Origin of Kunafa

The knafeh nabulsiyeh, which originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus and is the country's most iconic dessert, is one of the most popular kanafeh dishes. It's made with a white-brine cheese called Nabulsi, but where did Kanafeh come from?

Kanafeh has been around for decades and is popular in various nations, making it difficult to pinpoint its actual origin. Although it is popular in Lebanon, Israel, Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey, many people, including culinary experts, believe it originated in Syria.

According to various traditions and legends, Muawiyah I, the first caliph of the Umayyad Dynasty, invented Kanafeh in the Syrian city of Damascus sometime in the 7th century. He'd normally ask his cook to prepare a dinner that was great or rich enough for the Ramadan fasting time, according to legend.

In the 13th-century medieval Andalucía cookbook Kitab-al-Tabikh, there is evidence of an ancient version of this dish. The kunafa is one of the many dishes included in the book, and it consists of a thin crepe loaded with fresh cheese, baked, and drizzled with honey and rose water syrup.

Depending on the country, the dish's name might be written in a variety of ways. knafeh, konafa, kunefe, kenafe, knefeh, and kunafa are other examples. The phrase derives from the Arabic word "kanaf," which meaning "to shelter or protect." This word was most likely chosen to describe the two layers of dough with cheese sandwiched between them.

Even though this meal originated in Syria, Nablus in Palestine is frequently referred to as the kanafeh's birthplace. This meal has a particular place in the hearts of those who consume it.

Every country has their kunafa

The flavors and tastes of Kunafa change depending on where you go. Chefs in Turkey use a metal mold to make this flaky pastry, which is topped with whipped cream and a stringy sweet cheese created from sheep and cow milk (via 196 Flavors). In Lebanon, the dish would be served for breakfast, and the dough would be made with semolina flour, mozzarella would be used, and the dish would be flavored with orange syrup. Jordan uses mozzarella as well but adds more ricotta and a handful of raisins and crushed nuts on top. It has a delicate, creamy flavor that is only slightly sweet.


Nothing beats kunafa when it comes to trying a dessert that has been pleasing palates for decades. The dish's vibrant orange and green colors, according to 196 Flavors, make it a show-stopping dinner. Kunafa should be consumed as soon as it comes out of the oven. It's preferable to eat it when it's still hot.


It serves a variety of functions among people, including serving as a symbol of goodwill after a conflict has been resolved, be prepared during times of sadness and grief, such as when someone dies, and being prepared during happier times as a sign of admiration when someone achieves or reaches a significant milestone.