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Knefeh (Na’ahme) – Probably the most popular dessert in the Levant

I really struggled to finally blog this classic. Knefeh is probably the most popular dessert in the Levant, Turkey and the entire Arab world. Everyone knows it and everyone loves it (exceptions prove the rule :P). Of course, every family has its own recipe and there are also some significant differences from country to country. This version is called Knefe Na’ahme and is the Lebanese version of a dessert dream.

What is Knefeh anyway?

Knefeh is a dessert that in most cases consists of a “lid” and a bottom layer of hot melting cheese. On top, one then pours a sugar syrup as desired.

The lid

In most cases, the lid of Knefeh is made of kadaifi (or kataifi). This is a wafer-thin dough that is made into super fine noodles. Kadaifi also has the nickname “angel hair”, precisely because it is so thin and fine.

The cheese

The cheese used is usually desalted as much as possible. It is therefore better not to use Gouda. Typically, a white cheese typical of the country is used.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to get on a plane to prepare knafeh. By the way, the lid varies depending on the country and the recipe. In Lebanon, they like to use a lid made of semolina. This is the case, for example, with the version I would like to present to you here.

In Lebanon, people love knefeh tender and for breakfast

Knefeh Na’ahme means tender or gentle Knefeh. The dessert was given this nickname because the lid is made of semolina dough. This semolina dough is pre-baked and ground into a powder once more after baking. Only then is it processed into a lid with butter or ghee. Okay, so you see, you don’t necessarily need the special ingredient kadaifi. But you don’t necessarily have to master the semolina dough procedure either. I know a great shortcut thanks to my sister….

Before I tell you the shortcut, it’s important to know that the Lebanese are crazy about knefeh for breakfast. But not just any old way, you actually make a sandwich out of it! For bread, you take delicious kaak, stuff it with knefeh (or knafeh) and pour in a good dash of sugar syrup.

Knefeh mit Kaak
Knefeh for breakfast: Simply fill the Lebanese street bread with knefeh and add a dash of sugar syrup afterwards.

Everyone is allowed a little cheating

I really thought long and hard about whether it would be OK to cheat here. You can’t get kadaifi everywhere, and you can’t get the cheese anyway. But I really want everyone to be able to make Knefeh at home. So let’s go and find the main ingredients, which you can also get here in any supermarket.

The secret of my sister

My sister tells me about Knefeh “Kisbeh”. Kisbeh means “cheated” or “lie”. Don’t worry, I don’t want you to lie. It’s about imitating ingredients and speeding up the preparation: a shortcut. Okay, instead of kadaifi or semolina dough, we now resort to commercial rusks and instead of a cheese from Lebanon, we use mozzarella. By the way, the mozzarella version is already very common at Knefeh, because the cheese is also mild, melts very well and makes nice strings.

Knefeh knafeh servieren

And to make the cheese layer really super creamy and cheesy, we add a layer of delicious semolina pudding. Then Knefeh becomes even more delicious, fluffy and creamy.

But regardless of whether it’s abbreviated, cheated or anything else: you should definitely try Knefeh!

Recipe for Knefeh (Na’ahme)

Knefeh Knafeh
Print Recipe Rezept speichern
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 246



Sugar syrup

For the lid

Cheese layer

  • 3 Balls Mozzarella

For the pudding


  • 20 g chopped pistachios


Sugar syrup

  • Heat the sugar and water over high heat, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and reduce to medium. Simmer for approx. 5 minutes until a thin syrup has formed. The syrup will thicken further as it cools. Allow the syrup to cool.


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • For the lid, grind the rusks in a blender until they are a uniform, slightly coarse powder. If you don't have a blender, you can also put the rusk in a freezer bag, seal it and beat it with a rolling pin until it is crumbly.
  • Mix the rusk powder with butter and rose and orange blossom water.
  • Butter the base of the springform pan or line it with baking paper. I recommend baking parchment: only line the bottom and clamp the ring onto the paper so that the paper peeks out. Cut away the paper on the outside with scissors. This way, only the bottom is covered with paper.
  • Spread the rusk mixture over the base and press down gently.

Cheese layer

  • Allow the mozarella to drain properly for about 5 minutes, cut into slices and place on the lid.


  • Mix all the ingredients for the pudding together, bring to the boil and allow to thicken to a creamy pudding for about 5 minutes while stirring.
  • Pour the pudding on top of the cheese layer and bake the Knefeh in the oven for approx. 20 minutes.


  • Remove the knefeh from the oven, use a spatula or butter knife to loosen the sides of the knefeh from the edge of the springform pan and carefully open the springform pan.
  • Place an appropriately sized plate on top of the Knefeh and carefully turn it upside down (hot!!). Carefully remove the base of the springform pan and the baking paper from the lid.
  • Garnish the Knefeh immediately with pistachios and serve still hot with sugar syrup.


Recipe contains affiliate links. 


Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 146mg | Potassium: 133mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 1mg

Read more about Levantine cuisine in the guide. You might also like Layali Lubnan or Muhalabia.

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