Love Difference Pastries - The sweets

Knafeh Ghair Nabulsieh, by Oraib Toukan


My project is built on the Palestinian national desert pastry called Knafeh. Knafeh is a shredded philo-pastry pie, with a base of thick white salty melted cheese called Nabulsi cheese. Both the desert and its cheese originate from the Palestinian city of Nablus. I want to reinvent this pastry. I want to fuse it with berries, and a different cheese. I want it to be eaten in its big round metal basin, and by people from all around the Mediterranean basin. But would this dish still be Knafeh? Would it stop being nabulsi? How much of identity is ‘identity’, and how much of it is conditioned. How penetrable are our culinary habits and how much should we seek to penetrate them. What is the place of globalisation and commercialisation in evolving or ‘fusing’ our recipes in the first place, and is this something to celebrate. Can and should a desert come to symbolise patriotism, nationalism…


Knafeh dough
Rose water
1 kilo raspberries/blueberries or berries in season
Gee butter
1 kilo Mascarpone cheese

Around 1 kilo of fresh berries in season need to be bought that morning, washed and dried.
Slice the berries and add a cup of sugar in a large bowl. Splash rose water over the large bowl of fruits. In a frying pan spread purified butter over a whole knafeh tray. Spray 1 cup of syrup (1 sugar to 1 water with a teaspoon of rosewater) over the knafeh dough. Communally and lightly thread the knafeh dough together until they become lighter in form. Lay out the knafeh pastry over the non-stick round tray.
Place the tray on top of the fire, over very low heat for 20 minutes. Throughout the 20 minutes keep rotating the tray over the fire so that the dough crisps evenly without burning. When caramelized in color, flip the tray upside down on a knafeh tray. Let it cool. Top with
mascarpone (preferable Ishtta), and layer the fresh berries on top of that. Sprinkle shaved almonds (optional). Serve from the tray on a round table with teaspoons for everyone.

 Oraib Toukan

Curriculum Vitae

Oraib Toukan. Visual artist working across media, and in public interventions and participatory projects. Recipient of various awards, international fellowships, and residency placements. Initiated well-known experimental arts programs in Jordan, and writes and teaches in her practice, with an interest in the role of collective memory and identity politics in the fabrication of identity/territory. Fanatical about food, food history, and food photography- she is currently based in Amman and New York.