Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mozzarella Cheese Kunafa Recipe

Mozzarella Cheese Kunafa
Mozzarella Cheese Kunafa

A not-so-authenic cheese kunafa made with everyone’s favorite mozzarella cheese! Crunchy shredded pastry filled with an ooey gooey mixture of mozzarella and a secret ingredient that keeps the cheese from hardening even after it cools. A rose and orange blossom water scented sugar syrup, sweetens and perfumes this scrumptious Middle Eastern favorite.

Author: Cleobuttera

Serves: 1 (12"/ 30cm or up to 14"/ 35cm) round kunafa


For the Scented Sugar Syrup:
2½ cups (1 lb 1oz/ 500g) granulated sugar
1¼ cup (300ml) water
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon (15g) rose water (more or less according to taste)
1 tablespoon (15g) orange blossom water (more or less according to taste)

For the Semolina Pudding:
1½ cups (350ml) milk
¾ cup (180ml) heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons (37g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (30g) semolina
1 teaspoon (3g) cornstarch
1 teaspoon (5g) water
1 teaspoon (5g) rose water

For the Cheese Filling:
600 grams/ 1lb 3oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (preferably fresh)
3 tablespoons (37g) granulated sugar (omit if your cheese does not taste salty) (*see note)
2 teaspoons (10g) rose water

For the Kunafa Crust:
1lb/ 500g kunafa or kataifi/kadaifi pastry, fresh or frozen. If using fresh, freeze for an hour for easier cutting. If using frozen, thaw slightly
1 cup (8oz/ 227g) ghee or butter, melted and slightly cooled

Pistachios, for garnish


To make the Scented Sugar Syrup: (Can be made up to a week in advance)

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine together the sugar, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on a stovetop over high heat. Try to avoid stirring it as it heats to prevent crystallization from happening, but if the sugar is not dissolving, then help it out with a few stirs. Once it comes to a boil, STOP stirring.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for no longer than 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken slightly, and have a consistency similar to pancake syrup. If it simmers for longer it could thicken too much and become candy-like.
  3. Remove from heat, then stir in the rose and orange blossom waters. Transfer to a medium bowl, liquid measuring cup or gravy boat and allow to cool to room temperature before using.
To make the Semolina Pudding:
  1. In a small saucepan, combine together the milk, heavy cream, sugar and semolina. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 1 teaspoon of water and add to saucepan.
  2. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking until the mixture thickens into a bachamel-like consistency; about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rosewater. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the kunafa.
To prepare the Cheese Filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the mozzarella cheese, sugar (if using) and rose water.
To prepare the Kunafa:
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 200C/ 390F.
  2. Heavily grease a 12"/ 30cm round cake pan with ghee or butter. A larger pan size (like a 14"/ 35cm deep dish pizza pan may be used, but note that the kunafa will turn out thinner) Alternatively, the kunafa could also be split over 2 (9"/ 23cm) or 4 (6"/ 15cm) pans. You could bake one now and freeze the other(s) for later.
  3. If using fresh, extra thin, Arabic-style konafa dough, it is preferable to use only the butterfat in the melted butter, leaving behind the milk solids or just use the full amount of ghee instead, to ensure a crunchy, evenly browned crust. If using thicker, Greek-style frozen kadaifi/konafa, you can use the butter in its entirety; milk solids and all. Unlike thin, fresh konafa, thicker/frozen kadiafi dough can handle the extra moisture, while still crisping up. To separate the butterfat from the milk solids, let the butter sit for a few minutes after melting. The milk solids (the whiter substance) will sink to the bottom and the butterfat (the yellow liquid) will float up. You could now simply pour the butterfat, being careful to leave the white bottom layer behind. It's OK if a little of the milk solids get poured in as well. (Get more details about clarifying butter here).
  4. Over a large bowl, shred the konafa/kataifi dough into 1inch/ 2.5cm long pieces. I've found that cutting the kunafa while semi frozen, makes for the easiest way to break it. So even if using fresh kunafa, stick it in the freezer for about an hour before cutting it.
  5. Pour the melted ghee evenly over the kunafa. If using butter instead of ghee, for fresh, extra thin konafa dough, just pour the yellow liquid (butterfat) of the melted butter, leaving behind the white layer (milk solids). If using thicker, frozen konafa/kadiafi, just pour all the butter in. Mix the butter evenly with you hands, into the kanafeh shreds, making sure it gets well coated and every strand is glistening.
  6. Transfer two-thirds the amount of konafa in the prepared pan and firmly press it on the bottom and up the sides. Make a wall with the konafa around the sides of the pan; this will help contain the filling during the baking process and prevent it from burning. Pack the konafa as tightly as possible. Use the bottom of a cup or measuring cup, to help pack it tightly and smooth out the konafa.
  7. Pour in half of the cooled, semolina pudding and spread with a spatula into a thin layer. Top with the cheese mixture and pat down into an even layer. Cover with the remaining semolina pudding.
  8. Scatter on the remaining third of the konafa over the cream filling, lightly press it on to adhere.
  9. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top and sides of the konafa are deep golden brown in color. Use a knife to push the side of the konafa, to check the color. The longer it bakes, the crunchier it gets. So bake it for less time if you prefer a softer crust.
  10. Remove the konafa from the oven and immediately pour on about ¾ of the scented syrup, starting from the edge and moving towards the center, in a circular motion, making sure to cover the entire surface. Reserve leftover syrup for drizzling over individual servings.
  11. Let the konafa rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow for the syrup to soak in, then flip on to a serving platter. Decorate the edges with halved pistachios, or for a more traditional look, Cover the entire surface with ground out pistachios.
  12. Cut into wedges and serve right away, while still hot, passing along extra syrup, as desired. Kunafa is best enjoyed warm, while the filling is still gooey, but it still tastes delicious at room temperature and the filling will still be soft but not gooey. Leftovers maybe stored in the refrigerator, then rewarmed in the oven or microwave.
*This recipe will also make 2 (9"/ 23cm round) kunafas, or 4 (6"/ 15cm round) ones.

**Kunafa freezes really well before baking. Assemble the kunafa in the pan, don't bake, and cover with a double layer of plastic wrap and 1 layer of foil. When ready to bake, let it thaw, then bake as normal.

***The amount of sugar added to the mozzarella filling, depends on how salty the cheese tastes. If using fresh mozzarella, you may choose to leave out the sugar sugar because its not salty. So taste your cheese and you be the judge of how much sugar needs to be added. I use pre-shredded mozzarella, not because its the best choice, but rather because its the most easily accessible where I live. It's slightly salty, so 3 tablespoons is perfect to balance it out.

****In non-Middle Eastern countries, Kadaifi/kataifi/konafa dough can be found in the frozen Greek section of most big supermarkets, or in Middle Eastern speciality stores.

Semolina pudding recipe adapted from Embers Mezze Bar.


Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt Recipe

Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt
Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt

Whether you spell it kefta or köfte or kufte or some other variation, you can find versions of these lamb or beef meatballs throughout the Middle East. The seasoning mixture here is simple, with spices you should already have on your shelf and you can play around, adding fresh or dried mint, grated onion, or a pinch of cinnamon. And if you like a garlicky yogurt sauce, by all means, add a minced clove.

Kristin Donnelly Epicurious May 2014

Makes 4 to 6 pita sandwiches


Yogurt sauce:
1 cup plain full-fat or low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs, such as mint, dill or cilantro, plus herb sprigs, for serving
Kosher salt

Patties and pita:
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or beef
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 1 large clove)
1 tablespoon coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 pita bread rounds


For the sauce:

  • In a small bow, whisk the yogurt with the lemon juice. Stir in the chopped herbs, season with salt and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the patties and pita:
  • In a bowl, use your hands to mix together all of the ingredients, except for the pita. Form the mixture into twelve 3-inch oval patties (about 1 inch thick). Arrange the patties on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm
  • Preheat a grill for at least 10 minutes and prepare it for grilling over moderately high heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, leave one area where you can grill the pita indirectly.
  • Oil the grill grates and grill the patties until dark brown grill marks form on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the patties and grill for 4 to 6 minutes longer, until just cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, wrap the pita in foil and set the package on the top shelf of a gas grill or in the cooler spot of a charcoal grill and allow them to warm through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Wrap 2 or 3 patties in each pita, spoon some of the yogurt sauce alongside and serve with herb sprigs, passing the remaining yogurt sauce at the table.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Oat tart with bechamel and apricot jam and dates recipe

Oat tart with bechamel and apricot jam and dates
Oat tart with bechamel and apricot jam and dates

Preparation: 25 minutes approximately
Cooking: 40 minutes approximately
Serves: 6

Cuisine: Arabian Gulf

All you need

2 1/2 tbsps al alali White Oats
250g flour – strained
200g butter
100g al alali Icing Sugar
1/2 tsp al alali Baking Powder
1 egg
al alali Vanilla Powder to taste
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp al alali Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of salt

For sweet béchamel:
4 tbsps flour
1 liter of milk prepared from al alali Full Cream Milk Powder
2 tbsps cream
1/2 cup honey
al alali Icing Sugar to taste
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 cube cream cheese (optional)
al alali Vanilla Powder to taste

3 tablespoons al alali Apricot Jam
Dried Apricots
Pitted dates
1 tbsp al alali Multiflora Honey


  • Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F)
  • In a deep bowl, add flour and al alali White Oats, mix with butter by hand until the mixture have grainy texture. Add salt, al alali Baking Powder and al alali Icing Sugar, mix again, add egg, al alali Vanilla Powder and al alali Ground Cinnamon, mix well, then add yogurt
  • Knead mixture on a floured surface, then place dough in fridge for 15 minutes to cool
  • For the sweet béchamel: heat milk prepared from al alali full Cream Milk Powder, Mix with an electric mixer with the remaining béchamel ingredients, boil and stir constantly until thickens, set aside
  • Spread dough on floured surface, then place on a tray, make small holes in dough in order not rise during baking. Bake in oven for 15 minutes to cook , set aside
  • Spread al alali Apricot Jam, pour béchamel sweetened with honey, garnish with dates and dried apricots, bake in oven again for 10 minutes until the surface browns
  • When serving, grease surface with al alali Pure Honey to give a glossy surface and scrumptious taste
  • Serve with Arabic coffee and enjoy!
Source: alalali

Dumpling with Cheese and Dates Molasses Recipe

Dumpling with Cheese and Dates Molasses
Dumpling with Cheese and Dates Molasses

Preparation: 45 minutes approximately
Cooking: 25 minutes approximately
Serves: 10

Cuisine: Arabian Gulf

All you need

1 box al alali Dumpling Mix

10 pieces cream cheese squares – cut into small cubes

1 cup dates molasses

Sesame for decoration

Frying Oil


  • Prepare al alali Dumpling Mix according to the instructions mentioned on the box. Add 2 cups warm water, stir constantly (it’s preferred to reduce water from 2 1/2 cups in order to shape the dough easily and add the cheese inside). Cover dough with a cloth. Leave for 45 minutes to ferment
  • Heat frying oil over medium heat
  • Shape the dumpling by using 2 teaspoons, put small part of dough on one spoon, and a piece of cheese on the other, mix both gently to form a ball. Add ball to the hot oil. Repeat this process with remaining dough
  • Fry dumplings for 3 minutes until it becomes golden color, then drain oil
  • Garnish with dates molasses and sesame. Serve and enjoy!
Source: alalali

Quinoa Vine Leaves with Lamb Chops Recipe

Quinoa Vine Leaves with Lamb Chops
Quinoa Vine Leaves with Lamb Chops

Preparation: 50 minutes approximately
Cooking: 1 hour & 45 minutes approximately
Serves: 4

Cuisine: Arabian Levant

All you need

300g lamb chops

1 tsp corn oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp al alali Ground Allspice – for lamb chops

5 cups water

3 cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick

1 1/2 cup white quinoa

300g ground beef

1 tsp al alali Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsps salt

2 tsps al alali Ground Allspice

1/2 tsp al alali Ground Cinnamon

2/3 jar al al ali Vine Leaves

4 cups lamb broth

3/4 cup lemon juice

Salt to taste

Plain yogurt


  • Heat corn oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Brown lamb chops for 4 minutes on each side and season with salt and al alali Allspice. Add 5 cups water, cardamom, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes
  • In the meantime, gently rinse vine leaves under running water. Allow to drain
  • In a separate bowl, hand mix quinoa, ground beef, al alali Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, al alali Allspice and al alali Ground Cinnamon
  • Place vine leaf, vein side up, on a flat surface. 2 corners of the vine leaf should be facing you. Place about 1/2 - 3/4 tbsp quinoa stuffing towards the bottom center of the leaf. Wrap and roll the vine leaf. Repeat for all vine leaves
  • Strain broth from lamb chops. Arrange lamb chops on the bottom of a medium pot. Align rolled vine leaves closely to each other on top of the lamb chops. Gently press a solid, white plate upside down onto the vine leaves
  • In a separate bowl, add broth, lemon juice and salt. Adjust seasoning to taste
  • Gradually pour broth into the pot, until broth reaches below the level of the plate. (You don’t necessarily have to use all the broth, depending on the size of your pot)
  • Bring vine leaves to a gentle boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 1h45 – 2hrs, until vine leaves and quinoa are tender
  • You can serve vine leaves and lamb alone, or with the lemon broth on the side
  • Serve with yogurt and enjoy!
Sourec: alalali

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chicken Shawarma Salad Recipe

Chicken Shawarma Salad
Chicken Shawarma Salad

I recommend using chicken thighs for this chicken shawarma salad. They just taste so much better and never seem to dry out on the grill. Always juicy! Of course, you could just wrap everything up in a big pita or naan bread like my husband does, but then it wouldn’t technically be a salad. You pick, it’s all good!

Serves: 6 servings


6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you could use breasts if you prefer)

For Shawarma spice marinade:

1 Tbls. cumin
1 Tbls. coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls. lemon juice
3 Tbls. olive oil

For the Garlic Lemon White Sauce:

1 C. light flavored olive oil or vegetable oil
⅓ C. lemon juice
6 cloves garlic
1 egg white
1 tsp. salt

For the Salad:

Romaine lettuce, chopped
Hummus (homemade or store bought)
Tabbouleh (I used Near East - a boxed mix, follow directions on box)
Pita chips


  1. Combine Shawarma spice marinade ingredients in bowl. Whisk to combine. Add chicken and toss around to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight (longer is better).
  2. In blender, combine garlic lemon white sauce ingredients and blend until thick and creamy, almost like a thin mayonnaise. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. Grill chicken, about 5 minutes each side. Remove from grill. Let sit a bit, then slice chicken into strips.
  4. Assemble salad: Either on one large platter or individual bowls, arrange lettuce, tabbouleh, hummus and chicken strips. Top with some garlic lemon white sauce and serve with pita chips.
Source: I'm Bored Let's Go

Lebanese Shish Tawook Chicken Kabob Recipe

Lebanese Shish Tawook Chicken Kabob
Lebanese Shish Tawook Chicken Kabob

Try our Chicken Shish Tawook Recipe, an Easy Way to Make Delicious Middle Eastern Chicken Kabobs.


2 lbs of skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes/Kabab chunks
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
a small slice of lemon with the peel (optional, don't put too much)
15 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 table spoons of plain yogurt (Greek yogurt)
6 table spoons of olive oil
2 table spoons of red vinegar (apple cider vinegar)
1.5 to 2 teaspoons of ground white pepper
⅓ teaspoon of ground ginger spice
½ teaspoon of ground thyme, or ground oregano
⅓ teaspoon of paprika
1+ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
½ to 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
Lebanese Garlic Paste (see our recipe here) to be served with shish tawook


  1. Mix all ingredients well together while rubbing the chicken
  2. Place in a container, cover, and let rest/marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours
  3. Skewer the chicken right before grilling
  4. Grill on medium heat for 12-18 minutes maximum
  5. As soon as you remove them from the grill, place them in a big warm pot, replace the lid tightly, and let rest for 8-10 minutes - this helps the chicken become more moist (this step is optional)
  6. Spread 1 teaspoon of our garlic paste along the diameter of a pita bread, add some salted cucumber pickles, french fries, grilled tomatoes or peppers (optional), the grilled chicken shish tawook, roll as in a burrito and enjoy. You could also toast the sandwich roll through a panini grill for 2-3 minutes.
Author: Esperance Sammour

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