Kunafa is like the Middle East’s version of a cheese danish. Its base is mild, stretchy white cheese–very like fresh mozzarella or paneer–with a topping of rich semolina pastry, all of it soaked in sweet rosewater syrup. The sweet is baked in giant rounds, and cut into pieces for serving.
Although kunafa is popular in many parts of the Middle East, it is apparently native the ancient Palestinian city of Nablus, on the West Bank. Nablus Sweets in Bay Ridge takes great pride in the confection, which it spells k’nafee. This morning, around noon, the sweet was still in the oven. When it finally emerged, it was an orange-tinted wonder, leaking melted cheese and syrup, probably more than two feet in diameter.
The counterwoman cut a drippy slice and weighed it: $6 for a portion that would feed three enthusiastic eaters. And the kunafa is delicious, the mild, slightly tangy cheese anchoring the sugary, nutty semolina on top.
In 2009, a pastry chef in Nablus made the world’s largest kunafa. It was 243 feet long and weighed 3,891 pounds. It was shared among the residents of the city.
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