All of these things are true...

I had been in Jordan for several weeks and my love affair with Arabian sweets had reached a lofty peak. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honeys and syrups that would flood through heaps of pistachios on my plate.

Then it happened… I voraciously reached junkie status. More, more. Never enough! Every bakery that caught my sight was fair game,  out for a greater high, exploring the labyrinthine neighborhoods for the more legendary bakeries. But it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

An unmarked door led to an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 100f degree day, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. They were using round, shallow pans and alchemy to produce what many call “Arabian cheesecake”.

This “cheesecake” was Kanafehe

A definitive oxymoron- soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of simple syrup and rose water. Good enough to make one prostrate in reverence to the baker.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that the Arabian culture opened up before me, so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appauling photograph…

…but 1879!!!

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Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it- “A rose by any other name” and all that-

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Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine

 

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Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

 

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg

20140418-111902.jpg

 

So, any takers?

Yallah’bye!

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All of these things are true...

A couple weeks in my desperate affair with Arabian sweets had reached dangerous highs. In fact, I would begin and end each day with a platter of pastries, smothered in honey and flooded with syrup and pistachio.

Junkie. That’s what you’d call me. A baklav-addict. More, more. Never enough. Every bakery was fair game as I lurked ancient cobbled alleys, out for a greater high, wandering deeper into the labyrinth in search for legendary bakeries. All of this was is good and well but it was in Wadi Musa where my friend, Khaleed, led me right into the snare of Kanafeh.

I followed him downtown through an unmarked door into an unnamed bakery where, despite the raging 110-degrees, a father and son were cheerfully slaving away, racking out sheets of pastries. Round shallow pans and alchemy. Arabian cheesecake.

This cheesecake was Kanafehe

The edible oxymoron – soft and crunchy, sweet’n’salty, cheesy, gooey, and crispy. All neatly encased in a glaze of syrup and rose water.

The ingredients are few yet they lend themselves to an endless array of pastries. We all know and love baklava but it wasn’t until I discovered Kanafeh that I finally tasted the essence of Arabian culture: so delicate and sweet behind that mysterious veil.

Now, please excuse this appalling photograph…

IMG_2298
Knafa, Kanafeh, Kunafa? Whatever it is… Tel Aviv, Israel
…but 1879!!!

Let’s just say there’s no right/wrong way to spell it. A rose by any other name

523975_3679462710501_1083950525_n
Kanafeh in Ramallah, Palestine
IMG_2093
Kanafeh and assorted pastries in Wadi Musa (Jordan)

There are three variants of kanafeh but in this recipe we’ll focus on khishnah (rough Kunafa)

Ingredients

  • 1 Package- Kataifi Pastry (kataifi is something like spun phyllo. Rather than laid out in thin sheets, it is processed in a way that produces vermicelli-like noodles. Check out this great video to see how it’s made)
  • 1 cup- Ghee
  • 2 cups- Akkawi cheese (you can substitute with mozzarella)

Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup- water
  • 1 1/2 cup- sugar
  • 2 tbsp- Rose water (or orange blossom water)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Optional Toppings

  • Pistachios (crushed)
  • Almonds (whole or crushed)
  • Whatever else catches your fancy (if you dare stray from pistachios…)

As with all recipes- preheat your oven (350f/180c)

Prepare the simple syrup (so that it can cool entirely before the kanafeh is finished) by mixing the water and sugar in a pot- bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Promptly remove the syrup and allow to cool for several minutes. Then add the rose water, or orange blossom water.

At this time, you’ll want to begin shredding the kataifi. This is best done with a food processor but can be achieved by hand. As packaged, kataifi comes in endless noodles and you’ll need to shred them further- so that the average noodle is around one inch in length.

Once you have the noodles at the right size, place the kataifi in a large mixing bowl and gently incorporate the melted ghee (clarified butter.)

As the noodles set, begin the process of cutting down the cheese, or even shredding it if possible. I’ve experimented with many cheeses, some sweeter, some saltier, and there’s no rule for what you use. Just be sure to have 2 cups of a quality melting cheese to your liking either shredded or cut in long, narrow strips.

Taking a 9×13 pan, spread out a generous layer of the processed kataifi (about 2/3 of your noodles). Press the noodles firmly into the pan working it into a flat, even surface so that you can then evenly distribute the cheese, all of the cheese.

Follow the cheese with the remaining kataifi and, again, pack the noodles into the cheese, evenly.

With the oven heated, cook the kanafeh until the noodles have become a golden brown (around 10-15 mins)

Once the kanafeh has baked through you’ll want to allow it to cool for 10 mins

At this point, the kanafeh should have become more firm and set into its cheesy, sexy self.

Now, carefully place a cookie sheet atop the baking dish with the kanafeh and invert the pan so that the kanafeh is now on the cookie sheet.

Litter the surface with crushed pistachios and drown your darling with the simple syrup/rose water concoction.

Voila.

OK, so the example given below, about that. I had a tough time finding kataifi, so I substituted the noodles for simple phyllo sheets… no harm done. Yet, I will admit that iteration does neglect all the pleasing textures that comes along with kataifi. However, i’ll take what I can get. So get creative.

20140418-111911.jpg
20140418-111902.jpg

So, any takers?

Yallah

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Highlights

  • Introduced Shampooing to Europe
  • First Indian to Write a Book in English (I’m suspicious of this)
  • Opened the first Indian restaurant in London, 1810
  • Served as Surgeon in the British Army

Quite a figure.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the storied history and culture of food. If you think about it food, with all those various customs, colloquial nuances, simple and complex, erotic and understated, is truly our greatest and most intimate experience with the world around us.

<img src="https://nicholasandriani.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/sake-dean-mahomet.jpg?w=870&quot; alt="

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

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Sake Dean Mahomed was an entrepreneur and surgeon who helped break down cultural barriers between India and England.

Mahomed is credited with introducing Indian cuisine and Indian therapeutic massages known as shampoo baths to Europe in the early 19th century. But it’s for his writings that Google honored him with a Doodle on Tuesday. It was on this date in 1794 that Mahomed became the first Indian author to write and publish a book in English.

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

<img src="https://nicholasandriani.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/2c_mahomet_travelbook-1.jpg&quot; alt="

Born in Patna, India, in 1759, Mahomed was taken under the wing of a British Army officer at the age of 10 after his father died. He served as a trainee surgeon in the army of the British East India Company and remained with the unit until 1782, when he resigned from the army and accompanied his benefactor to Britain.

In 1794, Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomed, an autobiographical narrative about his adventures in India. The book recounts his time in the army and describes many important Indian cities and military campaigns.

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Needless to say, Mohamed lived quite a rich and accomplished life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Influential Muslims

“So from populist demagogues, we will learn the indispensability of democracy. And from isolationists, we will learn the need for global solidarity. And from tribalists, we will learn the beauty of cosmopolitanism and the beauty of diversity.”

Author Elif Shafak presents a stimulating call to action, urging PEOPLE, all people, we the people, the collective, the hive mind, who actually have control and authority than we realize, to stand outside our comfort zone. To defend the weak. To life untethered by tribe, whether its “American” or “Arab: “Black” or “White:” “Muslim” or “Buddhist:” “Young” or “Old.”

More than ever we must resist the temptation to follow leaders who are unwilling to acknowledge these very truths.

I hope you find her lecture as moving as I do and please share your thoughts. Would you agree with Elif?

Earlier this year, I set a goal to finish a solid draft of my memoir and to achieve this mission i’m going into the wild, er, offline…

A MONTHLONG period away from social media, the internet, ethernet and all those nets, in an archaic approach to finish this labor of love that i’m damn excited to share with you.

Now, I generally write longhand, heavy Cross pen, paper, table and tea–so this writing without a computer business is basically how I conduct my work anyway. But, to be away from my peers, my colleagues and you people taking time to read these articles, that’s the toughest part.

I want to keep this short so let me finish by wishing my fellow Americans an enlightening and restful Thanksgiving. And, you Turks, love him or hate him, happy Ataturk Day (Nov 10th.) The same goes for you Zoroastrians out there, happy Adargan (celebration of fire Nov 10.)And, to you Moroccans and Lebanese–happy Independence Day (Nov 18th, Nov 22nd respectively.) And, you, yes you, take a break and celebrate “Buy Nothing Day” (Nov 28th.)

You can reach me at info@nicholasandriani.com and I’ll get back to you in 30 days or more. It’s just little strange to say that.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I look forward to catching up with all of you in one month.

Until then…

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–Andriani

 

Last weekend I took part in a polarizing protest.

And, I want you to know, dear reader, before proceeding, that I hold no anti-muslim nor anti-semitic sentiments. My opinion is neither religious (for some they sure have made it out to be) nor ethnic (for some they sure have made it out to be).

I’ll let my friends at the organization Jewish Voice for Peace take over for a moment-

This is a bloody mess, and pointing fingers will only breed hysteria. The blame game needs to end and we must lay the groundwork for a new era in Israeli/Palestinian relations.

This needs to start at home. By educating ourselves thoroughly and logically.

Avoid the media. Apparently, their responsibility to share unbiased news is far less important than swaying viewers for greater profit. They perpetuate half-truths and hype, lacking humanity and self-respect.

Drop the religions, the preconceptions. Look to the facts. Be rational and calm. Forget Israel, forget Palestine. Forget all emotion you’ve invested in this conflict and read the history of these two nations independent from what you’ve been told your whole life. Start from the beginning and formulate your own conclusion. Because, I promise you, it won’t be that which Fox news is screaming in their own brand of terrorism.

I condemn them. Fox News, Israel, Hamas. Way to perpetuate violence. “Eye for an eye”, how Babylonian. (That’s so 1772… BCE) Real progressive.We must look to the philosophies of Gandhi, of Mandela and others who overcame apartheid with astounding results by instigating a non-violent movement.

Wherever your allegiance lies, just remember that we can only get through this together. Right, left, Jew, Muslim, Christian, whatever–we need each other, and we have to acknowledge this with compassion.

Though I stand in support of a two-state solution I remain hand in hand with Palestine.

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Photo credit to Jo Larmore

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Photo Credit to Alma Habib

 


I wanted to wish all the Muslims out there a merry Eid al-Fitr. Sending good vibes your way, despite the major gastronomy-envy I’m feeling!

Until next time–Yallah’Bye

 

photo

It’s safe to say that the visual arts have always been an extremely inspirational medium to me. This is especially true when it comes to Islamic Art. The heavy use of geometrical forms and the rhythm of mingling patterns that move in harmony with passages from the Quran.

Traditionally, many schools of Islamic thought have avoided the use of human figures in their artistic endeavors; Sharia law even forbids the use. Perhaps to keep ones practice of Islam clear and void of idolatry. The resulting style became known as Arabesque playing hugely on vegetal, geometric, and scriptural elements. And this only scratches the surface. Other schools of thought, inspired by the Chinese and Mongols, did, in fact include depictions of men and women at the time.

So it’s clear that, like many genres, Islamic art can’t be neatly defined and the pieces i’ve brought to the board today span many centuries and borders.

Now, before I digress once again, I present a powerful collection of Islamic art currently on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City, Missouri.

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 Folios From a Qur’an. Abbasid Period (750-1258 C.E.)

Ink and Gold on Vellum. Arabic language using the Kufic script.

IMG_2247Couple Standing Among Flowering Trees.

Tabriz, Iran, Turkman School. 1480 C.E

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

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Today’s Life and War 6

Gohar Dashti- Iranian (2008)

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Tile with Inscription

Iran. Seljuk Period ( 1038-1220s)

Ceramic w/ turquoise glaze

hands

Stories of Martyrdom (Women of Allah)

Shiran Neshat

Iranian (1994)

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Bowl

Iran. Seljuk Period (1038-1250s)

Fritware with opaque turquoise glaze

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Detailed shot of Mosaic from an arched entrance portal known as an iwan.

Isfahan, Iran. Safavid Dynasty (1501-1722)

Glazed ceramic tile and gold leaf.

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Paper Plates

Hamra Abbas- Pakistani (2008)

Paper collage

The exhibit goes on to include textiles, more ceramics, and even a short animated film which plays on the colonial occupation of India. A great display of the wide variations in Islamic art through time and space.

So, I absolutely urge you to pay a visit to the Nelson-Atkins. That is… if you’re in Kansas City already!

Yallah-bye