Habibah Sweets Amman

Knafeh

One of the most popular sweets in Jordan and perhaps all of the Middle East is kunafa (also spelled knafeh, kanafeh, among others). A warm cheese pastry soaked in syrup, kunafa comes in either a rough crust version made from noodle-like threads or with a soft, semolina crust. The exact origin of kunafa remains unknown but the Nablusis in Palestine are widely considered the masters. To make kunafa, first vegetable ghee is spread onto a large round, metal vat. Semolina with red food coloring is gently sprinkled on top to form a thin layer. After being soaked in water to rid it of excess salt, a layer of Nabulsi or Akkawi cheese is spread over the semolina. After about seven minutes on the flame, carefully spinning the dish to distribute heat, the vat is moved to the side, cooled, then flipped out on to a tray. Doused in syrup and sprinkled with crushed pistachio, the steaming orange-red dessert is ready to eat. To get a taste of this iconic dish in Amman, head straight to the best—Habibah Sweets. With five different branches across Jordan, the 1951 original close to the Arab Bank downtown may look like a humble street stall, but serves a continuous line of sweet craving customers all day long. Work off this caloric indulgence with a walk through the nearby souk, or better yet, a hike up to the Citadel in order to watch the sun dip below the horizon as the call to prayer emanates up from the hazy sea of white buildings below.

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Amy Jurries

Amy is a freelance travel writer and editor.

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