What Coffee is to Italy, Kunafa is to Jordan and the Levant region. To many of us, it may just be that cheese filled dessert hiding under a chest of golden crisped vermicelli noodles, soaked in a serious dosage of hot sugar syrup. But no. It goes way beyond that.
Kunafa is a dish that trumps all dishes when it comes to cultural etiquette. Graduated? Just Got Married? New job? New Car? New born baby? … Kunafa is the go to dish to gift and share on these occasions. Just like it’s the same with tragedies and funerals as well.
History has it that Kunafa dates back to the Ummayad Dynasty from the 10th century. It was first created for Moawiya Bin Abi Sofyan (one of the caliphates) to have during suhoor. This would help keep his hunger at bay during the fast.
Different versions come made in either crispy vermicelli for those who like texture, or in Semolina for those who like it soft and creamy. If it’s covered in a mixture of pistachios and nuts, then it’s taking it up a notch in the generosity field!
Im no purist, but modernisation has bastardised it with Nutella instead of cheese, and that to me is a crime scene against Kunafa. But, to each their own.
Check out this video I shot when I was in Jordan last month. We queued almost 25 minutes to get our plates, in which 6 trays sold out during that time! The sheer chaos and rush of it all just made me understand why people go nuts (pun intended) for Kunafa. Buying Kunafa is an experience all by itself, and I highly suggest eating it right away. You’ll thank me later.