Kanafeh: Hard to pronounce, but tasty

It’s time for a Middle Eastern sweet.

I tried out the only independent coffee shop in my new neighborhood and found a charming Middle Eastern restaurant called Gyro House Mediterranean Grill. They are located in Beaverton, OR.

Gyro House has many other wonderful food items to offer besides their gyros and homemade french fries with tasty sauce.

Their wood fire oven is right by the window so I watched the racks of bread being baked and perused their pastry selection.

I picked this interesting kanafeh (which I thought was called Knafeh, but was missing some A’s) because it has an interesting texture. Plus, I wanted to try something that was different from the usual baklava sold at Middle Easter restaurants.

The strings look like those chinese noodles you put in salads, but they are actually finely shredded phyllo dough. The green sprinkling on top is pistachios. There are two layers of the phyllo dough and between them is a sweet cheese filling, similar to what you would find in a cheese danish.  You heat it up for a few seconds in the microwave, along with the side of rosewater. When the kanafeh is warm, drizzle the rosewater on top.

I was thinking about making this myself before, but was discouraged because I didn’t want to wrestle with the shredding of delicate phyllo dough. But according to “Balaboosta” author, Einat Admony, you can buy the pre-shredded dough at Middle Eastern stores.

I discovered Ms. Admony when I was looking to buy another great Israeli cookbook on Amazon. She came up as the top seller in that cuisine, so I checked out the “Balaboosta” cookbook from the library.

Admony runs a restaurant in New York and her cookbook formats recipes in a very fun way. She connects food to personal stories and also advocates for family participation to understand and enjoy food (her little boy even knows how he likes his red meat cooked).  The cookbook chapters are not categorized by dessert, breads, etc but by fun elements like “The First Cut is the Deepest: Foods that Comfort,” “Just the Two of Us: Romantic Dishes” and the section with kanafeh in it, “Fancy-Schmancy: Restaurant Worthy Dishes.” The recipes even weave in some of Admony’s personality, to make you feel like you are watching a cooking show.

For the kanafeh recipe, see page 256 of “Balaboosta.” Admony compares the cheese layer to a cheesecake, and uses ingredients that are readily available in the U.S. like semolina and ricotta. And in her narrative fashion of providing recipes, Admony notes that kanafeh is a dish that “looks fancy without your having to spend all day in the kitchen.”

To take a look at the book, here is the Amazon link:



Stephanie Landis

I am a native Oregonian, but traveling has been my way of life since I was young. I was raised in Europe and traveled around Asia and Africa. I've studied two languages and plan to add more. Along with travel, enjoying a passion for food, art and culture is apart of my daily life. My hobbies other than writing are cooking, reading, watching films and attending cultural events.


  1. it reminds me of a tour of all the kfeneh eateries in my hood, in beirut, with an iraqi friend until we finally landed at a good one in front of the sea next to the mosque; unfortunately now this place is gone and replaced by..Starbucks! \good news is `hallab has an outlet in Beirut and the kfeneh is still the best. most home cooks here `i asked make it at home with kaak or breadcrumbs or buy the fark (semolina dough) from a pastry shop and the cheese already unsalted; i did it once. love your clics.

  2. Hello Kevin, i just wanna give some information about baklvaa(the real,Turkish baklvaa)First of all you don’t need to use honey…We use only ŞERBET(sherbet) its icluding only water,sugar and a little “lemon juice” against the crystallization of sugar.(this is the syrup)In Turkish cuisine we never add orange or cinnamon to baklvaa.just the phyllo dough,good quality of butter,walnuts /or unsalted,unroasted pistachio,and the ingredients of the syrup.That’s all..so simple :)Try like this one time :DOw i forgot to write that you have a gift about cooking 🙂 Have fun!Loves from Belgium from a Turkish girl…

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