What is Knafeh? Knafeh is a traditional Arabian dessert which is made with “kataifi” (string pastry) and cheese. It has a thick layer of cheese in between string pastry, sugar syrup is poured on top and garnished with nuts.Lebanese Knafeh and Turkish Knafeh is also very famous. When I first saw this dish, I found its combination a little weird. But believe me the taste was so delicious that I almost finished whole dish alone. knafeh is the most royal and unique Arabian dessert. It is crispy and crunchy from outside, soft and cheesy from inside. It has a beautiful buttery aroma and sweet and mild salty flavor.

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Kataifi is very similar to thin vermicelli. I did not find kataifi here, so I replaced it with Pheni (thin fried vermicelli). When I made this dessert at home its taste was almost similar to one I ate in an Arabian restaurant. Typically two kind of Arabian cheeses are used called Nabulsi and Akkawi. These cheeses are more salty and soaked in water for long to get rid of extra salt. As these cheeses are not available everywhere most people use mozzarella cheese as an alternative. Mozzarella cheese can be mixed with some soft cheese or cream. Making Knafeh dessert is a simple three steps process. These steps are as follow


Steps of making Knafeh:

  • Preparing sugar syrup

In first step we mix equal amount of sugar and water in beaker. Bring it to boil and cook until sugar melts. Add a little lemon juice so that syrup does not crystallized. You can add a little rose water also.

  • Layering Knafeh:

First crush vermicelli with your hands. Add ghee (clarified butter) in vermicelli and mix. Take a baking pan and grease it with butter. Make base layer of crushed vermicelli about half inch thick. Add second layer of mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese. Now add top layer of crushed vermicelli and set it. Bake it for almost 20 minutes.

  • Garnishing

After baking immediately pour sugar syrup on it until this vermicelli cake completely covered. Crush pistachios and garnish it with them. Always serve it completely hot and serve separate sugar syrup with it also.

Brief history of Knafeh

Historical references tell us that this dish was originated from Middle East. In 13th century a book “Kitab al tabikh fi I Maghrib wa I Andalus” (book of dishes of Western countries andAl- Andalus) first used name “Kunafa” which was a dish made with “crepes”(thin sheets of flour batter) which were layered with fresh cheese, then baked and topped with rose syrup and honey.

Later in 15th century Turkey gave this dish contemporary form of Knafeh. It is also called Kunafa or Kanafeh. For Knafeh recipe they used string pastry instead of crepes. This pastry is known as “tel kadaif(string crepes). For filling they mostly use sweet cheese or clotted cream and top it with rose water.

Some important precautions

  • In first trial I added only mozzarella cheese and baked Knafeh but it became rubbery and chewy. Then I realized that adding only mozzarella cheese does not work. We have to mix it with cream or soft cheese to get fluffy and stringy inside layer.
  • It is very important to serve Knafeh immediately after baking. Inside cheese layer will become firm and hard if you eat it after a while.
  • If you have left over Knafeh, keep it refrigerator. When you want to eat it again, heat it up in baking oven on low heat and enjoy.
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Knafeh is a traditional Arabian dessert which is made with “kataifi” (string pastry)and cheese. It has layer of cheese in between string pastry. Sugar syrup then poured on top and garnished with nuts.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Arabian
Keyword how to make knafeh, knafeh, knafeh cheese, knafeh dessert, knafeh recipe, lebanese knafeh, what is knafeh
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 people


  • Mixing bowl
  • Round baking ban
  • beaker


  • 200 gm pheni (fried vermicelli)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 150 gm cheddar cheese
  • 250 gm mozzarella cheese
  • cup ground pistachios


  • Add sugar and water in beaker and cook until sugar totally dissolves.
  • Add one tablespoon lemon juice in sugar syrup.
  • Put pheni in bowl and crush it with hands.
  • Add ghee and mix it.
  • Spread butter in baking pan with brush.
  • Make base layer of pheni about ½ inch thick. Spread cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese on pheni layer. Cover cheese with another ½ inch layer of pheni on top. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Drizzle sugar syrup on baked knafe, spread syrup until completely covered.
  • Garnish knafe with crushed pistachios.

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