There is constant debate about the ownership of this dish between the neighbouring cities Antakya, Adana and Mersin. I prefer to eat the Antakya version (bigger and cheesier), but I will not take sides in the origin argument, because all three cities have many citizens of Syrian ancestry and there are versions of this dish all over the Arab world. So the Turkish ownership debate may be academic.
There are cheeses made in those towns specifically to go inside künefe. The challenge in making the dish outside Turkey is to find the right cheese—fresh, low in salt and able to ooze when heated. I like to use buffalo mozzarella.
First make the syrup, so it has time to cool. Put the sugar and
Roughly chop the mozzarella. Roughly cut the kadayıf pastry into chunks. Put the pastry in a bowl with half the ghee and mix with your hands until completely combined. Divide the buttered pastry into two balls.
Brush the grape molasses and a little ghee onto the base of a frying pan (or divide into smaller frying pans to make individual künefe). Spread half the pastry over the pan, pressing it down with the (clean) base of another pan. Spread the mozzarella evenly over the pastry, and spread the other half of the pastry over the mozzarella. Press down again on the second layer of pastry.
Place the pan over medium heat. After about 6 minutes, as the bottom is turning golden brown, turn the künefe out onto a plate, and then put it back into the pan with the uncooked side down. Cook the second side for a further 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and slice the künefe into four segments. Pour the cold syrup over the segments.
Divide the künefe between each plate, sprinkle with pistachios and serve.
© 2015 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.