The variations of this dish are as vast as the number of names with which you’ll see it described (kunafa? kunafeh? knafeh?), and as wide as the region in which you’ll find the dessert made. Typically, kunafa is made with two layers of crisp vermicelli, with a light, fresh cheese or sweet cream mixture inside. From Turkey to the Levant lands of Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon – and in Egypt as well – you’ll find fascinating and delicious variations of this treat. Its origins, however, depend on who you are speaking to. Did the Palestinians create kunafa? Their city of Nablus gave its name to one of the most famous recipes, after all – Nabulsi kunafa, using this city’s unique style of fresh cheese. Or, as some stories have it, did the Turkish invent the dessert, leaving the Palestinians to make it famous? Either way, it is not only Dubai’s must-try dish, but a tradition that we’ve seen taking on a new lease of life in the Emirates today. Forget those croissant-doughnut hybrids. From chocolate kunafa to kunafa in manakish, we pick our favourite and most unusual ways to enjoy this dessert in Dubai.
Dhs24 per slice. Sukar House of Desserts, Dubai Gate 1, Cluster Q, JLT (04 454 7805).
‘1,001 swirl’ kunafa cupcakes
Dhs15. Hey Sugar Bakeshop, various locations including Village Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 344 8204) and Park Island, Dubai Marina (04 435 6871).
Dhs20. On The Wood Bakery, Al Barsha (04 456 1606).
Fried ice cream kunafa
Price on request. Amaseena, The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, JBR (04 318 6150).
Dhs50. Home Bakery, Galleria Mall, Al Wasl Road (04 344 4462).
Milas pink kunafa
Dhs31. Milas, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 388 2313).
‘I love kunafa’ rice pudding
From Dhs18. Rice Creamery, City Walk, Jumeirah (04 344 4553).
And now for something completely different…
Purists who don’t like to see their kunafa played with can sample an excellent array of the traditional type at Feras Sweets.
From Dhs17 per 250g. Near Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (04 341 3123).