This recipe for kanafa, also known as knafeh, is a traditional dessert in Palestine. Rosewater syrup is poured over crisp, shredded phyllo dough that has been cooked with a layer of creamy sweet cheese. It’s straightforward but quite powerful. Traditionally, desalted Nabulsi cheese is used for the cheese filling. Lower-fat items can be utilized, and the ricotta-mozzarella mixture is an excellent alternative. The dough takes on the distinctive orange or reddish color of kanafa when it is dyed using kanafa dye, which is usually found in Middle Eastern groceries.



  • 1 (16 ounce) box shredded phyllo dough (kataifi)
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  •  cup white sugar
  • 12 ounces unsalted butter

Rosewater Syrup:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  teaspoon rose water (Optional)


Step 1.

Set the oven’s temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or 200°C.

Step 2.

Get the kanafa ready. Shred the frozen phyllo dough and pulse it in a food processor until the pieces resemble small grains of rice. Transfer to a big basin for mixing.

Step 3.

In a another bowl, stir together sugar, mozzarella, and ricotta.

Step 4.

Put the butter in a big, spout-equipped dish or liquid measuring cup that is safe to use in the microwave. Allow to cool for a few minutes until a dense, white froth forms on top, then reheat in the microwave until it is completely melted. Using a spoon to scrape off the foam will help clarify butter.

Step 5.

Butter should be added to the phyllo dough bowl very carefully. Refrain from adding the solid white milk at the bottom of the clarified butter. Work the dough and butter together with your hands. Grease your palms with handfuls of dough to ensure that the butter is absorbed.

Step 6.

Press the buttered phyllo dough firmly into the edges and bottom of a 9×13-inch pan, being sure to spread it evenly. Avoid getting any cheese mixture on the pan’s edges as you spread it over the dough.

Step 7.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a preheated oven, or until the dough is bubbling and brown around the edges and the cheese is beginning to turn golden.

Step 8.

Make the syrup in the kanafa’s baking time: In a small saucepan, mix 1 cup sugar with water. The mixture should be brought to a boil over medium-high heat.After lowering the heat to medium, whisk in the lemon juice. For five to seven minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce thickens, simmer while stirring continuously. Take care to prevent the mixture from caramelizing and turning yellow. Put rose water in and remove from the heat; leave aside.

Step 9.

Take the kanafa out of the oven. The baking dish should be covered with a sizable plate or baking sheet. Carefully flip the baking dish so that the phyllo is on top of the plate while using oven mitts. Drizzle kanafa with syrup. Serve hot, sliced into pieces.

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