To mark the start of the monthlong holiday, we sat down with content creator and home-cook Sali Al-Digs. She chatted about how she celebrates Ramadan, some of her favourite dishes to make, and how she likes to “Arab-ify” everything she cooks. She also shared her recipe for a delicious, cheesy version of knafa that we can’t wait to make ourselves (and you can watch the video here)!
How does your heritage or culture influence your home cooking?
Growing up eating mostly Palestinian/Middle Eastern food, I got used to my food having so much flavor! Now whenever I make any pasta, salad or even avocado toast, it’s a natural instinct to add Middle Eastern spices not even related to the cuisine I’m making. I have to Arab-ify every recipe!
How do you celebrate Ramadan? What does Ramadan represent and mean to you?
Although Ramadan is all about refraining from eating for the majority of the day, a lot of our time is spent planning and making food to break our fast! Most of us don’t eat three-course meals or dessert everyday, but for some reason we insist on doing that during Ramadan. I love testing out new recipes during Ramadan that I randomly crave while fasting! We also love to gather with friends and family to break our fast together, in a potluck style. Everyone makes a dish that we can all enjoy together.
Is there a story behind the recipe you’re making today? How have you made it your own?
Knafa is probably the most popular Middle Eastern dessert; there are many variations to it, but the cheese version in my recipe is my favourite. I love the combination of the salty cheese and the sweet syrup. It’s normally baked in the oven, but I’m so excited that I figured out a way to make it using the Always Pan and Flipping Platter for a quicker, easier result!
What are some of your go-to dishes (besides the one you’re sharing) that you have fond memories of preparing?
I love so many Palestinian/Middle Eastern dishes — it’s definitely my most cooked cuisine. I love maqluba, stuffed grape leaves, and mansaf. We make a lot of dishes that require the famous 180* flip!
Sali's Cheese Knafa
3 cups shredded dough, finely chopped
1/3 cup room temperature butter
Orange food colouring
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella
1 tbsp. room temperature water
Chopped pistachios, for garnish
Simple syrup, to drizzle on top
Mix your finely chopped shredded dough with 1/3 cup of room temperature butter with a few drops of orange food colouring.
Grate 2 cups of mozzarella and 1 cup of fresh mozzarella. Using paper towels, squeeze out all the moisture from the fresh mozzarella. Mix the cheese all together.
Grease the Always Pan with 1 tbsp. of room temperature butter and a few drops of orange food colouring.
Add the shredded dough mixture to the Always Pan, packing it down with the bottom of a cup. Then add the cheese, spreading it evenly.
Heat the Always Pan to medium or low heat and cover. Cook your knafa for 20 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the bottom is a nice golden colour. Using the Flipping Platter, flip your knafa over to reveal the gorgeous orange crust.
Garnish with chopped pistachios and drizzle the simple syrup on top. Serve immediately while it’s still hot!