Breakfast in Beirut (Lebanon)
When I visited Lebanon last year, I was taken for breakfast by one of our partners. Before we ate, he said: "Taste this, you will praise God!" I tasted and I certainly did praise God. The breakfast was a sweet cheese-pastry called knafi, a very popular dish in Lebanon and a great centrepiece for an event raising funds and/or awareness for BMS work in Lebanon.
For a generous serving for six people you'll need:
- About 900g of ricotta cheese
- About 500g of filo pastry
- About 350g of melted butter
- 5 cups of granulated sugar
- 2 and a half cups of water
- 1 tbsp each of rosewater and orange blossom water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
1) Traditional knafi pastry is like vermicelli. To get that texture, defrost frozen filo pastry, shred/grate dough into a bowl.
2) Melt butter and stir in a tablespoon of sugar. Add butter at the same time to keep shreds separate. Afterwards, split dough in half. Spread one portion in a large buttered baking pan (don't compress!).
3) Place in the oven until brown and fairly crisp (180° C) then flip pastry over and cover with pieces of ricotta (roughly the size of chunky biscuits).
4) Between layers of cheese, drizzle some of the orange blossom water and then lay the remaining pastry over the top.
5) Bake in a preheated oven (180° C) for 45 minutes.
To make the syrup, boil water and sugar together. Add lemon juice and rosewater to taste and allow to thicken and cool. Pour over pastry.
Knafi is usually eaten warm with a sesame bun.