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Kunafah from Hatay, Turkey
Alternative name(s) kunafeh, kunafah
Place of origin Levant[1][2]
Region or state Countries of the former Ottoman Empire, Levant, Middle East and Caucasus
Type Dessert
Main ingredient(s) Sugar, cheese, pistachio, rose water, kaymak
Variations Multiple

Kanafah (Arabic: كنافة‎‎ kunāfah), also spelled kunafeh or kunafah is a Middle Eastern cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. It is a specialty of the Levant and Turkey.


The Arabic word kunāfah (Arabic: كنافة‎‎) is derived from the Arabic verb Arabic: كَنَف‎, translit. Kanaf, meaning to shelter.


File:Knafe on a plate.jpeg
khishnah kanafeh

Kanafeh pastry comes in three types:

  • khishnah (Arabic خشنه) (rough): crust made from long thin noodle threads
  • na'ama (Arabic ناعمة) (fine): semolina dough
  • mhayara (Arabic محيرة) (mixed): a mixture of khishnah and na'ama

The pastry is heated in butter, margarine, palm oil, or traditionally semneh and then spread with soft white cheese, such as Nabulsi cheese, and topped with more pastry. In khishnah kanafeh the cheese is rolled in the pastry. A thick syrup of sugar, water, and a few drops of rose water or orange blossom water is poured on the pastry during the final minutes of cooking. Often the top layer of pastry is tinted with red food coloring (a modern shortcut, instead of baking it for long periods of time). Crushed pistachios are sprinkled on top as a garnish.


Kanafeh Nabulsieh

Kanafeh in a pan

Kanafeh was first mentioned in the 10th century.[3]

It is generally believed to have originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus,[4][5][6] hence the name Nabulsieh. Nablus is still renowned for its kanafeh, which consists of mild white cheese and shredded wheat surface, which is covered by sugar syrup.[7] In the Levant, this variant of kanafeh is the most common. The largest plate of kanafeh was made in Nablus[8] in an attempt to win a Palestinian citation in the Guinness World Records. It measured 75×2 meters and weighed 1,350 kilograms.

Kadayıf and künefe

File:Turkish künefe and tea.jpg
Turkish künefe and Turkish tea (çay)

The Turkish variant of the pastry kanafeh is called künefe and the wirey shreds are called tel kadayıf. A semi-soft cheese such as Urfa peyniri (cheese of Urfa, or Hatay peyniri, cheese of Hatay), made of raw milk, is used in the filling.[9][10] In making the künefe, the kadayıf is not rolled around the cheese; instead, cheese is put in between two layers of wiry kadayıf. It is cooked in small copper plates, and then served very hot in syrup with clotted cream (kaymak) and topped with pistachios or walnuts. In the Turkish cuisine, there is also yassı kadayıf and ekmek kadayıfı, none of which is made of wirey shreds.

Riştə Xətayi

This type of Azerbaijani variant is prepared in Tabriz, Iran. «Riştə Xətayi» is called to mesh shreds that are cooked typically in Ramadan in the world's biggest covered Bazaar of Tabriz. It is made of chopped walnuts, cinnamon, ginger, powder of rose, sugar, water, rose water, olive oil.[11][12]


In this variant, called also καταΐφι or κανταΐφι in Greek (kataïfi or kadaïfi), the threads are used to make pastries of various forms (tubes or nests), often with a filling of chopped nuts as in baklava.

A Bosnian style kadaif pastry is made by putting down a layer of wire kadaif, then a layer of a filling of chopped nuts, then another layer of wire kadaif. The pastries are painted with melted butter, baked until golden brown, then drenched in sugar or honey syrup.[13]

See also


  1. Albala, K. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. 1. Greenwood. p. 311. ISBN 9780313376269. Retrieved 2014-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Knafeh كنافة: The Nabulsi Treat". tartqueenskitchen.com. Retrieved 2015-12-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Roufs, Timothy G. (2014). Sweet Treats around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 464.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Edelstein, Sari (2010). Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality, and Nutrition Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 575.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Arafat-Roy, Sahar (2013). "Sweet Baked Phyllo With Cheese (Knafeh)". In Broyles, Addie (ed.). The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook. The History Press. p. 43.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Abu Shihab, Sana Nimer (2012). Mediterranean Cuisine. AuthorHouse. p. 74.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Cuisine Institute for Middle East Understanding
  8. WEST BANK: Palestinian Knafeh enters Guinness World Records.
  9. http://www.politikcity.de/forum/internationale-k%FCche-d%FCnyanin-mutfa/19192-k%FCnefe.html
  10. "Künefe – ein außergewöhnliches Dessert". nobelio.de. Retrieved 2014-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Behnegarsoft.com. "اهراب نیوز - تصویری/ رشته ختایی؛ شیرینی مخصوص تبریز برای رمضان". ahrabnews.com. Retrieved 2014-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "تصاویر/شيريني مخصوص رمضان در تبريز - مشرق نیوز | mashreghnews.ir". mashreghnews.ir. Retrieved 2014-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Kadaif | Kuhar.ba - Hrana, recepti, zdravlje". kuhar.ba. Retrieved 2014-12-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>