Knafeh Recipe

Authentic Eats: Dessert Edition

Photography by Trevor Long

Chattanooga has gained notoriety in recent years for its growing ethnic food scene and for good reason. Restaurants representing far-flung corners of the globe are wowing diners with their quality ingredients and expert flavor combinations. While these establishments are dishing up their fair share of show-stopping mains, those with a sweet tooth fret not! Here, we highlight worldly desserts from some of the city’s top cultural eateries.


“Knafeh is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with kataifi and cheese that is soaked in a sweet syrup (called attar) and finished with pistachio. At Calliope, our version is a little different. We add a second layer of the buttery, crunchy kataifi, and we opt for fresh ricotta instead of the traditional sweet cheese.”


Calliope's Knafeh

Khaled Albanna
Course Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern


For the kataifi:

  • cups ghee (or butter),melted and divided
  • 16 oz. kataifi shredded filo dough, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. rose water
  • 16 oz. fresh ricotta
  • 1 cup pistachios, crushed

For attar syrup:

  • ¾ cup water
  • cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. orange blossom water
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of ghee, and set aside.
  • Place the cut kataifi pieces into a large bowl, pour in melted ghee, and mix until all pieces are coated.
  • Place the cream, sugar, and rose water in a stand mixer, and whip the cream until its peaks are stiff.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold the ricotta into the whipped cream, and set aside.
  • Place half of the kataifi into the baking dish, and press firmly to cover. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the kataifi layer, and sprinkle remaining kataifi on top, pressing in gently.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until the top of the knafeh is golden brown and butter is bubbling up the side of the pan.
  • While knafeh is baking, make the attar syrup by first adding the water and sugar to a small saucepan, bringing to a boil, and cooking for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, let mixture cool for another 5 minutes, and then add the orange blossom water and lemon juice. Stir, and set aside to cool completely.
  • Once knafeh is removed from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes before plating. Pour half of the syrup over the knafeh, sprinkle with crushed pistachios, and serve remaining syrup on the side.
Keyword calliope, knafeh, Middle Eastern recipe
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