Sunday, January 19, 2014

Savory Kataifi Balls with Cheese

Savory Kataifi Balls with Cheese - Peynirli Çıtır Kadayıf

Couple of years ago we were in the small Greek Island of Leros. We enjoyed many delicacies at Mylos restaurant by the windmill. Most of the appetizers were familiar tastes of the Aegean, however, this one was a pleasant surprise. Typically kataifi (shredded dough) is used for desserts in the Turkish cuisine, very few savory versions exist. This one was quick fried, very light, savory with a drizzle of honey on top. My award winning friend Oya ( has successfully deciphered the recipe when the owner refused to share his secret with her. She has the recipe on her blog. I've tried it at home in California with fresh mozzarella cheese and we loved it. Then, I tried a baked version. Although it was delicious, by the time the dough was baked to golden brown, some of the cheese oozed out of the dough and hardened on the tray. I decided to try it in a different format and came up with this recipe where I rolled the dough into a ball not allowing the cheese to melt and ooze out. It turned out great. Enjoy!

Variation: If you like kunefe, a kataifi dessert with cheese in the middle, you can place the cooked balls in a deep dish and pour over hot sugar syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, boiled for 5 minutes) over the balls and this will be a dessert very similar to kunefe.

  • 24 small balls of fresh mozzarella, drained
  • 8 oz kataifi dough (shredded fillo), about half a box. You can buy this at Middle Eastern Markets where you can find regular fillo dough.
  • 2 Table spoons butter, melted
  • 1-2 table spoons honey to drizzle on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter. Using a brush, grease a mini muffin tray with melted butter.

Take out the kataifi dough. On a clean, flat surface, loosen the strand of dough. You may need to cut the strands in half. If the dough is very dry, you may need to sprinkle some water on it to soften it. This will make it easy to work with. Take a few strands, place 2 small balls of fresh mozzarella on one end of the dough. Start wrapping the dough around the cheese by rolling it. Form it into a ball in your palm. Wet your fingers to make sure the ends of the dough will stick to the ball. Place the ball in a mini muffin hole. Repeat making balls until you full the mini muffin tray.
Bake until golden brown. About 20 minutes. Remove from the muffin tray, place on a serving dish. Drizzle some honey on the balls (optional). Serve hot or warm. 

Bon Appetit! Afiyet Olsun!

Kataifi dough out of the box
Loosen up the dough on a flat surface
Place cheese on the dough
Start rolling into a ball
Kataifi ball
Place balls into a mini muffin tray greased with butter
Ready to be baked
Baked until golden brown

Serve them hot or warm
Honey drizzled over the savory balls

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