I have been around….. In Brazil I loved quindim (coconut desert), in Lisbon I fell in love with pastel de nata, in Zuerich I went for a delicious chocolate fondue, but lately here in Israel, I replaced my beloved Malabi by Knaffe. And I will tell you how it all happened. …
One of my recent discoveries in Old Jaffa is a place called Yaffe Knaffe. I have been passing by this small charming café for the last few months with my groups. There were always people waiting and queuing up outside the shop. It made curious ….
One day, in which I was without a group and I decided to try it. I just walked in and ordered a knaffe. It turns out that ,as a dessert, knaffe has been around Tel Aviv for the a few decades. But, for some unknown reason, only during last year it became a real hit, with little knaffe shops popping up everywhere in the city.
The worker at the shop asked me if I fancied a knaffe with or without Turkish goat ice-cream on top. Since it was my first time ever, I chose to take the traditional version, without the ice-cream. To my surprise, as soon as it landed on the counter, the waiter decided to give me a treat and added a generous portion of ice-cream.
I must say it was indeed a cool and tasty idea. The combination between the hot knaffe and the cold ice-cream gave it a very unique texture and flavor. The ice-cream was not really sweet, which added a special feel to this newly discovered dessert.
After tasting it, I decided to do some research on this item of the Arab Cuisine. The more I dwelled into my research, the more confused I got….there are several different versions from various regions, that’s for sure!
Basically, knaffe is made out of cheese at the bottom, which is warmed up inside a round iron pan and on top crispy layers of kadaif (sweet thin noodles). There is also a vegan version with soya cheese. The colour of the knaffe is usually a very bright orange. The final touch is sweet syrup with crushed pistachio nuts on top.
How did Yaffe Knaffe turn out to be one of the hottest places for sweet food in town ?
The secret might be the baking inside a charcoal oven, which the owner brought from Turkey, the delicate sweet flavor and the cozy Middle Eastern décor of the place.
Since it has many calories, I try not to eat knaffe every time I take a group. But I get a lot of pleasure from watching my clients taste if for the first time. The best reaction I received from one of the bikers can be summed up in her own words “ if I was about to be executed, this knaffe would be my last wish”. I think this says it all….
If you happen to be around the flea market in Old Jaffa, Yaffe Knaffe is located on 24, Olei Zion Str.