These lightly yeasted and filled pancakes are best assembled as each one is cooked. Traditionally filled with either a sweet cream or walnut filling, you could use both, if you like, as in this katayef recipe.
Popular throughout the Levant, this syrup-soaked cheese dessert is commonly encased with kataifi pastry, but this recipe from Sydney's modern Lebanese restaurant Embers Mezze Bar uses a crushed Corn Flakes and semolina mixture instead. The golden crust, topped with rose petals and pistachios, barely contains the molten cheese centre. get your knafeh right here.
3. Open sesame
Derived from the Arabic word for “sweet”, the term halva or similar is used in countries around the world to refer to countless varieties of nut- or flour-based confectionery. This sesame-based version, popular throughout the Middle East, is from Lebanon and is swirled with chocolate, slivered almonds and pistachios. Let's make chocolate halva cake!
This semolina and yoghurt slice, known as nammoura, is one of the simplest desserts you can make for a dinner party. Its fragrance is derived from an aromatic sugar syrup (atter), made with rosewater and orange blossom water. This recipe also uses mahlab, a powerful spice with notes of bitter almond and cherry to add extra dimension.
5. French toast
Doused in caramel syrup and smothered in thick custard, this simple yet luxurious bread dessert is quick to prepare and requires minimal cooking. It's all about the chilling time in this Lebanese cream slice (ayesh el saraya).
These crisp golden pastries filled with ashta cream – a clever Lebanese unsweetened faux clotted cream – and then drenched with a fragrant syrup. Pistachios and rose petals make the perfect touch.
This rich Lebanese mafroukeh is traditionally made using clotted cream, while some cooks use whipped ricotta sweetened with sugar and flavoured with orange blossom water. This dessert isn’t particularly hard to make (don’t be put off by the long roasting time for the semolina) but it is important that the syrup and semolina be completely cool when combined.
8. Go fig-ure
This yoghurt mousse gets the star anise treatment and is served with a rich fig compote. Create all the elements ahead of time and assemble any night of the week for a comforting glass of dessert genius!
9. Buttered up
Think shortbread! These simple ghrabeyh biscuits, subtly scented with orange blossom water, are incredibly moreish. They are just as good when flavoured with vanilla or rosewater, too.
Have we got your attention and your tastebuds? It’s all about Lebanese cuisine on The Chefs' Line airing weeknights at 6pm. Check out the program page for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more!
This version of the classic Lebanese pastry combines my two loves - custard and baklava, all wrapped up in filo and finished with fennel-spiced walnuts.