I hope that you are all just fine and dandy today.
On a recent trip to Beirut we went to eat a breakfast treat of Kunafah and Sfiha Baalbakiyeh at Ahmad Aouni Hallab & Sons bakery, this small but incredibly busy bakery has been making delicious treats since 1881! It’s somewhat of an institution and rightly so, it’s totally scrumptious! Find it on the Corniche Road, down near the Movenpick Hotel.
Kunafah or Knafeh (there are various pronunciations!) is a type of cheese, sweet pastry, if you’ve never heard of it or tried it before, here it is in all it’s gooey glory.
Kunafah, as I learnt to pronounce it is generally served as a dessert in the gulf area, in Lebanon however, it is usually eaten as a breakfast treat. I say a treat because it’s not something you would want to eat everyday of the week, it’s horrifically calorific as you can imagine and quite heavy!
Traditionally it’s prepared in large round trays and then sliced up into individual portions ready to be served, drizzled with a sweet syrup made from water, sugar and either rose water or orange blossom water. In Lebanon the habit is to stuff the Kunafah into a sesame seed covered bread called Kaek, it’s quite chewy so you need strong teeth, but it’s very yummy!
Just as the pronunciation varies so do the recipes and you will see different versions of Kunafah from country to country. Sometimes you will see it topped with a wirey type of pastry rather than the semolina you see here, it can also be made with cream (as you can see on the left side of the picture) instead of cheese and in some countries the pastry topping is a bright orange colour. For me, I think it’s essential to eat it whilst it’s still warm because otherwise the cheese becomes too solid rather like mozzarella that’s been heated and allowed to go cold, it’s just never as nice.
Before we ate our sweet treats we also had Sfiha Baalbakiyeh, a dough topped with a delicious meat mixture that’s folded in on itself to create something almost like a pie. You squeeze lemon onto them and top with fresh mint leaves before rolling up and devouring. It’s was really quite light so we still had plenty of room left for the star attraction!
The Bakery also makes many other types of Arabic sweets so it’s a great place to stop by for gifts to take home, we took away quite a few boxes for people. We may also have consumed one or two ourselves, oops!
It’s fortunate that all our goodies have now been given out as they would seriously interrupt our new diet regime!
Peace and Love
Ginger and Cream XOXO
♥♥♥Ahmad Aouni Hallab & Sons Kuwait Building Raouche Street Beirut Tel: 01/805311