Making changes, Taking chances.

August: the month of love

August is a month of many celebrations.  Birthdays, anniversaries and lots and lots of dessert.  Given we are in the holiest of months – Ramadan – the first celebration of yesterday saw the replacement of the traditional birthday cake with the uber traditional Arabic “knaffeh“.  Now there are many variations on this rich and syrupy dessert and many will strongly argue for the reasons behind the deliciousness of the version they prefer.  You typically lean towards one base.  It is an intriguingly patriotic type of dessert.

Yesterday, we celebrated with both versions, known as “kheshneh” (rough) and “na3meh” or (fine) in English.  This is because the family is not unified in its love towards one.  You can see the patriotism point I was making!  The difference between these two is in the dough.  Both are assemled similarly: a base of cheese – wonderfully soft and melted when warm – covered with a thick layer of dough, topped with crushed pistacios and drizzled with an incredible amount of that sugary-sweet gooey syrup.  The ” knaffe kheshneh” has a hair-like dough tinted a bright orange color with a bit of a crunch.  The “knaffeh na3meh” has more of a compact rich dough that is soft, more buttery and more indulgent.  You can see where my allegiance goes!

Knaffeh Kheshneh

Knaffeh Na3meh

Most Arabic desserts are similar in their construction.  I also brought home some of the delicious desserts that are triangular in shape, known as “mtaba2”.  This consists of a phyllo dough filled with cream or cheese and once again topped with crushed pistacios and drizzled with that famous syrup known as “atter”.  These are an absolute favorite of mine.

Mutaba2 or Triangles (my creatively inventive English name!)

Happy Birthday dad.

Still a few more celebrations to go…stay tuned for more sugary love!

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3 responses

  1. Knaffeh! Be still my heart!

    I’ve had this dish exactly once! From the mother of the owner of my favorite hookah (seeshah) spot! Incidentally – their labneh is to die for!

    However, that is not the point. lol I’m easily sidetracked even when writing it seems.

    The knaffeh… I still dream about it… I wish I could get it in town or even a good recipe would be lovely.

    Beautiful photos and heart warmingly delicious post! Thank you.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:28 PM

  2. Thanks ChallahGirl!! Where have you tried it? And which version? It is endearing to see such Western love towards a very Eastern dessert! ( : Unfortunately I have never ventured into making it myself so I dont have a trusted recipe I can share however I will let you know if and when I do muster up the courage to make it myself!

    Thanks again for your lovely comment and kind words!

    August 3, 2011 at 8:42 PM

  3. I believe it was the Knaffeh Kheshneh – though it looked less orange, in fact I think it was almost white hair like dough.

    It was made by the mother of the owner of a Resturant/Hookah lounge in Jacksonville, Fl called – The Cashbah http://www.thecasbahcafe.com

    We traveled quite a distance that day just to eat at this specific restaurant and we told the owner who in turn told his mother…

    Who brought out a plate of the knaffeh… It was love at first bite.

    I had a hard time understanding the name for the dessert at first and had them write it down for me so I wouldn’t forget.

    I believe many westerners would fall in love with this dish if it was more widely available to them… I mean I love namora cake and baklava and luckily I can get those in town.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:56 PM

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