There is an ongoing debate about where kunafah, a sweet cheese “pie” usually eaten for breakfast, originated. Some claim Turkey as its country of origin, others swear it is Palestine, and others claim it is from Syria. There isn’t enough research for us to tell for sure, but what is certain is that there are two main types of kunafah. In kunafah Nabulsiyah, from Palestine, the kataifi pastry— called “hair” pastry because it is made in very thin, long strands—is colored red and used as is. The Lebanese version is known as kunafah mafrukah (meaning “rubbed”), because the strands of kataifi are buttered, then rubbed and rubbed until they become like fluffy breadcrumbs. Also the Lebanese version has no coloring. In Lebanon kunafah is made into a sweet sandwich by stuffing it inside the fat part of a sesame bread that looks like a handbag, with a handle and a fat pouch part, then drenching it and the inside of the bread in sugar syrup.
It is fairly simple to prepare and all you need is to buy kataifi fresh or frozen from a Middle Eastern store.
You can make this in the oven (as below) or on the stovetop. You can vary the cheese by using 1 pound (450g) Arabic clotted cream (qashtah) and follow the instructions as below.
Wander through the medina of Tripoli and you will soon smell the sizzle of beef kebabs wafting through the air as little hole-in-the-wall stalls grill up a storm throughout the day. To get the meat super succulent you need to have a high fat content—I suggest at least 20 percent fat. These kebabs are simple to make and cook fast on a barbecue. Rather than serve them in a wrap, I like to make these a little different, plating them up on a slick of hummus—either buy your favorite or make a batch—and then top the meat with a really zesty mix of red onion, sumac, and parsley.
Seasoned with herbs and warm spices, pressed between pita rounds, and grilled, these lamb sandwiches inspired by Middle Eastern arayes offer a flavorful, juicy, street food–style alternative to the everyday burger on a bun.
This salsa fresca comes in handy when someone is intolerant to cilantro and the mint and parsley mixture gives it a very unique flavor that goes well with grilled meats.