Desserts, International Cuisine
comments 31

Cinnamon & Orange Blossom Kataifi Rolls


I’m in the mood for something sweet. Not sickly sweet, but slightly sweet, nutty and deliciously crunchy. The kind of sweet that has a delicate spice and fruitiness, so much so that when you take a bite it sings through your veins.

Kataifi (also known as konafi, kanafeh, kunafah and a whole range of other names in various languages) is a Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean shredded filo pastry. It is a little fiddly to work with but worth every second of the time it makes to create luxurious pastries, whether they are sweet or savoury. With this one, patience is most certainly a virtue.

Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean pastries are famously known for their use of nuts, spices and syrups, but the varieties of these ingredients differ from country to country, and region to region. Some of these ingredients include almonds, pistachios, rose, cinnamon, honey, fruits and sugar syrups. The list of possible combinations for pastries is endless, and they can be every bit as indulgent as your imagination dares to allow.

The fine threads of kataifi are massively delicate and resemble angel hair pasta which, when drizzled with golden streams of butter crisp up divinely in the heat of your oven. Syrup is poured on once the kataifi has finished baking and is still warm and able to glug up all of its sweetness and moisture.

Indeed, kataifi is very versatile and provides an amazing crunch to lots of dishes. It can also be filled with savoury ingredients such as cheeses like sharp fetas or also fruits like spiced mashed avocado. It can be baked and deep fried, although when you bake it, you must agree to add lots of butter. It’s wholly necessary.

You’ll have never tasted anything crispier. That’s a promise. And I always keep my promises.

Fun Fact: Palestinians made the largest kanafeh [kataifi] in an attempt to get into the book of Guinness World Records. The plate of the Palestinian delicacy measured 75 meters in length and two meters in width with a weight of 1,350 kilograms.*

Sadly, they never saved a piece for me.

*Source: Wikipedia,

Cinnamon & Orange Blossom Kataifi Rolls
(Yields 35-45 pieces depending on their size)


500g kataifi pastry (I used a Syrian brand of frozen pastry, defrosted)
250g salted butter, melted

For the filling

240g ground nuts (I used a combination of equal amounts of pistachios, almonds and walnuts)
2 tsp cinnamon powder
60g granulated sugar

For the syrup

400g sugar
360ml water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp orange blossom water


1. Combine all of the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

2. On a large, clean surface separate the kataifi pastry carefully until it is as thin as it will go without having large gaps in it. Make sure the strands are left whole.

3. Cut the pastry into 6X10inch rectangles and working quickly on the longest edge, butter the pastry all over with a pastry brush. Then place 2-3 tbsp of the filling in a horizontal line across the pastry an inch from the bottom.

4. Carefully and tightly roll the long edge of the pastry from the bottom, making sure the filling doesn’t fall out. Place in a buttered baking tray and brush the top all over with more butter. (Note: Next time I roll the kataifi I will be using a sushi mat to get a perfect roll as the method of rolling kataifi is very similar to rolling sushi maki).

5. Repeat the above process for the rest of the pastry. Tightly pack each roll into the baking tray, one next to the other.

6. Bake the kataifi at 140 degress Celsius for around an hour. If you find it is burning then brush on more butter and bake at a lower temperature for longer.

kataifi collage
7. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Continue to boil on a moderate heat until the syrup is of a one-string consistency (the soft ball stage on a sugar thermometer). Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and orange blossom water. Carefully swirl in the pan and set aside.

8. Once the kataifi is golden brown all over, remove from the heat and gently ladle on the warm sugar syrup. Cover the tray with a piece of foil and allow to rest and absorb for a minimum of 8-12 hours, although 24 hours would be ideal.

9. When rested and cooled, cut the pastry logs into 1 inch pieces and place on greaseproof paper. Serve with Arabic coffee (qawah) or espresso.





  1. T. The Destructor says

    I love Kataifi, though I never knew it was called that. Everytime I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant someone always ordered this dessert, and then we'd share…and then I just begun to ask for the 'sweet bread thingy with the nuts and syrup' and they knew what I meant LOL.

    This is fabulous, I am most definitely going to try it out!

  2. Isabelle says

    Your kataifi are so pretty, I'd almost feel guilty eating one. (I'm sure I'd get over it, though) 🙂
    The combination of orange blossom and honey and pistachio sounds divine. I think I'm going to have to hunt down some kataifi pastry to try making some for myself!

  3. baking.serendipity says

    These look delicious! I've never tried them before, but like that they wouldn't be over the top sweet.

  4. Bindu says

    On our honeymoon I tried loads of versions of these sweet, crispy, sticky rolls. I love something with a bit of texture too, so am looking forward to trying these – obviously made by someone else, any offers?!

  5. Ju (The Little Teochew) says

    Ooooh! They looks so, so pretty!! Beautiful job Sanjana! I love them. And with a girly name like Cinnamon and Orange Blossom, I sure can't resist. 😉

  6. Carol Egbert says

    I've never used this dough but your recipe makes it more interesting.

  7. Jhonny walker says

    You actually made kataifi rolls…my respects. This looks better than the ones I had in mid-eastern restruants!! Sanajana you are a whiz kid 🙂

  8. artipatel88 says

    I call them finger rolls! :p Hehhe..I know, its bad! :s

    Your pics are getting better and better, just like you and your food!

    I hope you saved me a piece missy! 😀

  9. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal says

    awwwwwwwwww !!! they are sooooooo cute and what a lovely and mouth watering rolls, love them. Very very new for me.

  10. Preeti Kashyap says

    Oh yea…they taste awesome dont they! I went all the way to DC to have them fresh. I love kanafeh too…mostly it is filled with fresh cheese.

  11. Torviewtoronto says

    these kataifis look delicious I love making them with cashews and it sure doesn't last for a long time

  12. Trix says

    I love shredded filo, but I have yet found the nerve to work with it, considering the mess I make with simple filo sheets! Well done!

  13. Vaishali Sharma says

    I have never eaten Kataifi…but just looking at these rolls making me want to eat one right now..I have never seen shredded filo here….but I cant wait to find it and try these rolls…Pictures are so gorgeous!!! Making me droooool here… 🙂

  14. 3 hungry tummies says

    I just saw this being made in a cooking show 🙂 I think I am going to look for some tmr. Looks fantastic!

  15. Phil Lowe says

    Lovely blog Sanjana and another Nottingham based blogger. I'm not a veggie but could be tempted by your fab food. I will recommend you to my friend Janette who is a veggie and Nottingham based. I'm also a contact with you on foodbuzz. All the best Phil Lowe

  16. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says

    These are so pretty, Sanjana! I've seen this type of pastry before online and always stop to marvel at its beauty. I'll have to scour the middle eastern groceries near here for it. And I know where to find a yummy recipe for it when I find it.

  17. Trish says

    Beautiful photos, Sanjana. They look so delicious. A labor of love. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Mr. P says

    Amazing photos of all that work Sanjana. I want to dip my finger in all those ground nuts! 🙂

  19. Anukampa says

    Sanjana these rolls looks so yummy and mouthwatering. You have a great blog too.
    Keep up the good work.


  20. Anonymous says

    I am now craving these beautiful sweets, im going to try making them for my loved one and myself of course!

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