baqlawa (misspelled baklava) recipe

Baqlawa. Everyone claims they do it best, but who knows? I’ve actually had this post done and dusted and sitting in my drafts since September 2012 – a whole entire year ago! Wow 🙂 I thought I’d share it today because I’m head under stacks of study, assignments and midsem exams…. And well, it’s a near-finished post that just needed a few minutes to touch up and share. (And also because I’ve recently been craving baqlawa a lot! This craving was curbed with a friend’s kind offer to share some of the baqlawa she made recently 🙂 ).

Baqlawa generally is super easy to make. It’s almost a repetitive process of ‘lay the fillo, brush with butter’! In this recipe, I use 2 packets of fillo pastry and I cut the sheets to size. I use the left over fillo to make cute fillo cups and fill them with spinach and ricotta or fetta 🙂 If you have a rectangular tray that fits your fillo sheets perfect, go ahead and use that and cut the baqlawa into bite-sized squares.

There’s generally a beautiful pattern we follow to cut the diamonds out of round trays as this one (which I’ve tried to really simply/make clear with the pictures below!) Perhaps if you try it on a rectangular/square tray and share with us how it worked out, that’d be great! 🙂 Remember if it doesn’t work out for you, the baqlawa will still taste amazing regardless! 🙂


Serves: ~15-20
2 packets Fillo Pastry (375g per pack)
3 cups cashews (I mixed cashews and walnuts for a nutty flavour when doing this – feel free to try pistachios – YUM!)
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp citric acid or juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rose water (or vanilla essence)
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced).
Lightly grease a deep 32cm diametre baking tray and set aside.
Pulse the cashews in a food processor until finely chopped.


Remove fillo pastry from one pack, and place on a bench.
Place the tray on top of the pastry, and run a sharp knife along the edges of the pastry to cut to size (if necessary).
Place 2-3 sheets of cut fillo pastry into the base of the dish and brush with butter (put down one sheet at a time for a richer flavour).
Repeat with the remaining cut fillo pastry.


Spread the cashew mixture over the base.
Remove the fillo pastry from the second pack, and cut to size.
Repeat brushing with butter between the sheets for all the fillo pastry.
Use a sharp knife to cut diagonal bite-sized pieces (see diagram below; comment for extra help).
Place the tray in the oven and leave for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, for the syrup, add the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Add the rosewater and citric acid and stir to combine.
Reduce to a gentle boil and leave undisturbed for five minutes.
Pour this syrup mixture into a milk mug and set aside to cool completely.
When the baqlawa is ready, remove from the oven and  immediately pour on cooled syrup. Leave the baqlawa to cool.


Serve with vanilla ice cream or tea.

canny kataifi cones

It’s certainly been a very long time since I last posted a recipe – I haven’t been doing as much cooking as I’d like, but my uni semester is almost over! 🙂 And although I should probably be getting to my last bits of assessment and exam studies, I thought I’d share with you a little dessert I put together after making knaafeh for my aunt.

With the left over kataifi I had, I took some simple aluminium ice cream cone holders and used them to twirl the kataifi pastry around. I had been shredding it for the knaafeh, so some cones were quite messy, but others were beautiful 🙂 I won’t deny: these cones weren’t very easy to make… I didn’t take any photos of them in the making as both my hands were busy: one holding the pastry in place, and the other doing the wrapping 🙂


I opted to fill these with the ishta recipe I love, however I had originally planned to fill them with crème pâtissière, so you can feel free to fill them up with whatever you fancy. Kataifi is great for desserts, but is used on prawns and other savoury items, so you can go ahead and fill these with a finely diced salad/salsa of your choice. Possibilities are endless 🙂

Yields: 12 cones


~ 100 g chilled Kataifi pastry

diced pistachios, for garnish


3/4 cup thickened cream

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp citric acid

3 tbs icing sugar

1/2 tbs vanilla sugar

Rosewater Syrup:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup tap water

2 drops concentrated rosewater (or 2 tsps of the bottled stuff)



Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Lightly grease a baking tray and set it to one side.

Start by taking a small handful of the kataifi pastry from it’s end and placing it down on the side of an aluminium cone.

First wrap the kataifi up towards the tip of the cone, then back down to it’s opening, this will secure the end of the pastry.

As you wrap the pastry, feel free to twist it as this, too, creates a stronger bond.

Cut off the pastry when the cone is completely wrapped, and carefully place it on the tray.

Repeat this for all the cones, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown (I overbaked mine just a little 😉 got caught up on the phone with my sis, hehe).

Remove from the oven but keep in place until completely cooled.

Carefully grasp the entire cone with one hand, and use the tips of your fingers to remove the aluminium cone. Don’t hold down on the kataifi too hard or the cone will break.

As the cones were baking, prepare the rosewater syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil.

On medium-high heat, allow the syrup to gently boil until clear.

Add in the citric acid (or lemon juice) and rosewater concentrate.

Leave to gently boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a milkmug and set aside to cool completely (I use the fridge for this).

Prepare the ishta by bringing the milk to a boil.

Add the citric acid and stir through until the milk curds.

Drain well, and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Beat the thickened cream with the vanilla dusting powder and icing sugar until soft peaks form.

Fold in the curdled milk (be sure not to overwhip the cream).

Place ishta in a piping bag/syringe with a medium-large opening.

Fill the cones with the ishta and garnish with pistachios.

Pour over a generous amount of rosewater syrup, and serve immediately.


ambient um ali

Today I have a few announcements to make. I’ll get to the point straight away, so that you can find yourself enjoying the easiness of this post’s recipe quickly.

Announcement no. 1: This is my 99th post. It appears the norm is that every 100th post, something special is done. I thought of making my favourite dish and putting that up, however, I couldn’t decide. Are there any suggestions for “special dishes” that you love, that you think I should make for my 100th post?

Announcement no. 2: I have finally finished uni! No, I’m not graduating, I’ve just finished this semester. My long awaited summer holidays have begun, and I’m really looking forward to all the adventures I’ll be having in the kitchen! I’m just putting forward and invitation for you all to join me in celebrating my holidays! 🙂

Announcement no. 3: Remember back to the post “Opulent Oreo, Cream, and Berry Pie“? There I noted my photography assignment, and how I had organised some 24 pictures, to go towards my final project portfolio. Thankfully, it’s all over now, and the portfolio went from being titled “Photos of a Cookbook” to “Saha wa Hana!” which is the Arabic for “wishing you health and happiness”, it’s said before/after someone begins eating (a cultural thing), similar to the French bon appétit. So I’m now happy to present to you my final portfolio video which I uploaded on YouTube. You can follow this link to see it (change the settings in the bottom right hand corner to playback at 720fps), or watch this scummy little embedded one below:

Let me know what you think of it! 🙂

Announcement no. 4: Finally, this is to note the today’s recipe. It’s called Um Ali, meaning “Mother of Ali” – I can only assume the (wo)man who invented this recipe is called that! I had never tried Um Ali before; it’s an Egyptian dessert, and Egyptian cuisine isn’t my favourite, I won’t deny.

Nevertheless, I will say, this dessert was really tasty; and filling! Me and two of my sisters finished one ramekin, so make this dessert in smaller bowls if you don’t have a big stomach! Also note, these cannot be made in advance, because they’ll become very soggy! An acquaintance of mine asked me to post a recipe, because they only ever get to try it ready-made. Here’s the recipe card I have, I hope that all those who try this incredibly easy dessert enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂

Serves: 4 (that’s based on 1 per person!)


1 1/2 square sheets puff pastry

280 mL thickened cream (not low fat)

3 tbs icing sugar, plus more for dusting

2 cups mixed nuts (a combination of whatever you have in the pantry), roughly chopped

1/2 cup shredded coconut

4 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar



Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Cut the thawed puff pastry sheets into quarters so they can cook through.

Lightly grease a tray or two and place the pastry squares in the oven.

Leave to cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Turn down the oven temperature to 180 degrees celsius.

Meanwhile, add the milk into a saucepan, and add the 1 cup sugar.

Place on high heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar dissolves.

Reduce the heat to low, and leave uncovered until ready to use. The milk should not overflow, but keep an eye on it anyway.

Add the thickened cream and 3 tbs of icing sugar into a bowl. Whip with a beater until soft peaks form.

When the pastry has cooled, crush it with a fork, or with your hands until it’s flaky, but not ground.

Prepare four ramekins, I used 10 by 10 cm ramekins.

Fill each ramekin to half way with the pastry flakes.

Add a layer of mixed nuts and coconut (I forgot the coconut the 1st time)!

Add another thin layer of pastry flakes. Add in another layer of nuts and coconut.

If you have left over pastry, add in another layer of those, but be sure you don’t overfill the ramekins.

That’s what happens when you’re generous on the cream ^^ it overflows!

Remove the milk from the stove and use a ladle to pour the milk into each ramekin.

You should fill the ramekins all the way up with the milk.

Work quickly and divide the whipped cream into quarters.

Top each ramekin with a quarter of the cream, then dust with icing sugar.

Place the ramekins on a tray and place the tray into the oven.

Cook at 180 degrees celsius until the tops are golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Remove, and set aside to cool down. These should be served warm. I actually placed mine in the fridge after 10 minutes, and kept them in there for some 15 minutes, to speed up the cooling down time.

I didn’t do it at the time, but later I remembered: top the ramekins with finely chopped pistachios. It makes ’em look fancy 🙂

Satisfy your sweet tooth and,