Kunafe Nabulsia


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Kunafe Nabulsia is a luxurious dairy dessert and is commonly known as the queen of Arabic Sweets. It is actually a sticky pastry made by sandwiching gooey sweet cheese between shredded kunafe pastrys layers. This paper describes the origins, associated stories, cultural variants, recipe of this dessert. Moreover, a brief account of the personal learning I achieved while researching for this assignment is also presented.

Origins and Evolution

Kunafe Nabulsia is believed to have origins from the Ottoman Empire. In the recent times, it is known to be originated from the city of Nabulus, Palestine. Due to the sweet rich taste and popularity of the dessert, it has been liked in the countries Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Greece.

One of the forms of Kunafe Nabulsia is believed to be Baklava which is a pastry and is prepared in Lebanon. A bakery named as Al Sarmadi Sweets in Lebanon dates back to 1872 and is well known because all of the pastries made in the bakery are treated by hands instead of using machines.


In 2009, Nabulus also made an attempt to win a Guinness World record citation by producing largest plate of Kunafe Nabulsia. According to the organizer of the event, this plate weighed 1,350 kilograms and its size was 2 meters in width and 75 meters in length.

In Middle East, people do not generally make Kunafe Nabulsia at homes and is often purchased from the dessert shops and bakeries. For example, many shops in Jerusalem and Bethlehem have been able to achieve the fame and familiarity only be selling this product. The taste and popularity of this dessert in Middle Eastern countries is the true reason for which it has been able to make it place all over the world.

In addition to Nabulus, a large number of locations in Middle East have been known for selling high quality Kunafe, for example Deira Dubai. Nabulsi from Nabulus reviewed the quality of dessert available at Dubai. He appreciated the dish for its balance of Kunafe and cheese as well as for the liveliness of colors and freshness of the serving. Moreover, according to review, the cheese was kept intact in the Kunafe due to the bakers knowledge about temperature and timings.

Cultural Variations

Kanafeh Nabulsieh in Palestine

Due to being originated from Palestine and also being the national dessert of the country, the dessert is given the name Nabulsieh. In Palestine, this dessert is traditionally prepared consisting of shredded wheat surface & mild white cheese covered in the sugar syrup.

Kaday?f and Kunefe in Turkey

This is the Turkish variant of the dessert and semi-soft cheese made from raw milk is used in this variant. Here, the shreds are termed as Tel kaday?f. The cheese which is used is the Turkish variants of mozzarella. One major difference in this variant is that the layers of kaday?f enclose cheese instead of rolling the shreds around the cheese. Moreover, not only the sugar syrup is used for covering the pastry, but also the clotted cream. Finally, the dish is topped with walnuts and pistachios. The availability of the desert is common in Turkey, however, the city of Antakya in Hatay is the best place to purchase it. It is one of the desserts that is distributed to the friends and family in Turkey on the happy occasions such as Eid or child birth.

Rist? X?tayi in Iran and Azerbaijan

This variant is prepared in Tabriz, Iran and its sales reach the peak in the Muslims Holy month of Ramadan. It is prepared in market of Tabriz which holds the honour of being largest covered market in the world. Ingredients of this variant include walnuts, rose powder, ginger, rose water, sugar, olive oil and cinnamon.

Knafeh in Iraq

In Iraq, Knafeh is made using dates, goat cheese and watermelon jam.


This variant is made in Greece, where the nests or tubes shaped pastries are made from the threads. In place of cheese, Kadaif uses the fillings of chopped nuts. Melted butter is used for painting the pastries; these are baked and then served in the sugar or honey syrup.

Kunafe Nabulsia in America

This Arabian dessert has also become popular in West, for example people witness trying this in their kitchens in Seattle. A number of variants of this Arabic desserts are made and served in USA, for example in the form of stuffed rolls, pie, squares or wedges. The recipes to make Kunafe as a pudding like dessert are also available.



For Layers of Kanafeh

Kunafa dough: 350 gm (chop it finely using food processor)

Semolina Flour: 2 Cups

Melted Butter: 3?4 Cup

Milk: 1?2 Cup

Orange Food Colour: 2-4 drops

For Filling

Milk: 2 Cups

Thick Cream: 170 gm

Flour: 2 tbsp

Semolina Flour: 2 tbsp

Corn Flour: 2 tbsp

Mestika: 1?4 tsp

Orange Blossom Water: 1 tsp

Shredded Morzerral Cheese: 3?4 Cup

Sugar: 2 tbsp

For Sugar Syrup

Sugar: 2 Cups

Boling Water: 1 Cup

Lemon Juice: 1 tsp

Cinnamon: 1 Stick

For Topping (Optional)

Pistachio & Walnut

Making it

Prepare sugar syrup by mixing all the mentioned ingredients and bringing them to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes by reducing heat and then set aside.

For preparing the Kunafa dough, pour the milk mixed with orange colour on the Semolina Flour + dough. Add the melted butter by rubbing with hands well.

In a baking tray of appropriate size, place half dough, while pressing the bottom with palms. While pressing the dough, make a rim of 1cm.

To prepare filling, take a saucepan and mix Semolina Flour, thick cream, milk, sugar, flour and corn flour by stirring well. First bring the mixture to boil and then reduce the heat to make it thicken. Add cheese, mestika and orange blossom water stirring. When ready, pour and spread the mixture over the layer of Kunafa. Take care to leave space of 1 cm from sides of tray and between the borders of fillings.

Now, over the filling, arrange the remaining half of the dough and lightly press.

Preheat the oven, and bake the Kunafa at 220 celsius for 25-30 min.

Take out of oven when bottom becomes golden. Immediately pour the sugar syrup. Sprinkle pistachio and walnut.

Serve hot.

Personal Learning

From the research and experience about the preparation of food, I came to know that the origins of food might be decades old. The Kunafe Nabulsia which we have today is an evolved form of what Arabs used to make and eat decades before. The popularity of the food in one culture is the major reason why it is adopted by the people of other cultures. For example, I read many stories of the people who first ate Kunafe Nabulsia while on their trip to Middle East and then begin to make them in their personal kitchens in other countries such as USA. Moreover, a large number of cultural variations of the food also exist and are equally enjoyed by the people. This shows that cultural diversity has a direct impact on the food choices and recipes of the people from around the world.

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This paper presented details about the origin, evaluation, stories and recipe of famous Arabian dessert Kunafe Nabulsia. The dessert is made and liked not only in a number of Middle Eastern countries but also in west. Existence of large number of variants and recipes of the dessert reveals the dependence of food taste and preference on the cultural diversity.



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