You probably aren’t going to be looking for Lucky Charms on your Jordan tour, but there is a sweet here that I would describe as magically delicious. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that it is more magical than Lucky Charms.
The name of the dessert: kenafe. The way it’s made: shred pastry and heat with butter, roll it out and spread a soft white cheese over the surface, throw some more pastry on top and stick it in the oven. When it comes out steaming hot pour a sugary syrup over it and sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Does that sound magical to you? It does to me.
The story goes that this dessert was around in the Middle Ages, however, it was a delicacy reserved for royalty. There are variations of kenafe in the surrounding Middle Eastern countries but the village of Nablus in the West Bank is most famous for this delicious concoction.
It comes in two kinds, smooth (na’ame) or rough (khishne). The smooth or roughness factor relates to the texture of the pastry that is on top of the dessert. You will find that Jordanians are pretty set on which one they prefer. If you like smooth you will most likely never be found ordering rough and vice versa. In my case it’s rough all the way.
Just a little side note: not everyone loves kenafe the first time they taste it. I’m not going to lie, when my taste buds first had the pleasure, well, it wasn’t much of a pleasure. I thought it tasted like a sweet mozzarella stick. But don’t let that scare you, now I am in love with it and have to eat it at least once a week.
If you are eating kenafe in Jordan, which is pretty much a must, you should try Habibeh. There is more than one bakery here called Habibeh, so be sure to visit the one with the blue and white sign. For the tastiest knafe in town there is a teeny-tiny-hole-in-the-wall Habibeh in downtown Amman. Go there and you won’t regret it. You will also get quite a cultural experience.
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