Burma Kadayıf is a sweet pastry made with twisted shredded pastry, nuts and syrup. You can make this showstopping vegan recipe using only six ingredients in one pan.
What is Burma Kadayıf?
Burma Kadayıf is a circular sweet pastry commonly made in Turkish cuisine. Instead of having layers of phyllo pastry, such as in baklava, it has shredded phyllo pastry called ‘kadayıf’ or ‘kataifi’. ‘Burma’ is Turkish for ‘twisting’ and refers to how the noodle-shaped pastry is twisted around the nuts.
Burma Kadayıf can be served in thin slices or, preferably for home cooking, longer tubes.
How is Burma Kadayıf made?
Professional bakeries sometimes make fresh Kadayıf pastry but you can buy it frozen. The pastry is tightly rolled up around crushed nuts, creating a tube shape. Most commonly, it is then cooked in a large pan on a flame. It can also be deep-fried. Once cooked, it is soaked in syrup and then served in pieces.
My recipe is based on a gas cooker. You might be able to do this on an electric hob but consider whether the cooking times need adjusting. Otherwise, you could cook it on a camping stove, barbecue, or any open flame.
Prepare the kadayıf pastry as normal: if frozen, defrost overnight. If the packet is open, wrap it in a damp tea towel to stop it from going dry.
I found the twisting method easier than I expected – however, I am sure I am nowhere near the level of professional Turkish pastry chefs. Here are a few tips to help you get it right the first time:
- Wrap any pastry you are not working with in a damp tea-towel to stop it from going dry
- Loosen the pastry strands with your fingers before beginning each twist
- Check the pastry lies flat without gaps between strands
- When placing the nuts on the pastry, leave a gap around the edges
Pistachios are usually used for this dessert but you can swap them for any other nuts.
If you like this recipe, you might want to try:
- For the syrup
- Prepare the kadayıf in advance. If it is frozen, defrost the day before leaving it in the packet. If the packet is open, wrap the packet with a damp tea towel so that the pastry doesn't dry out. This is especially important in this recipe because you will need to roll the long strands without them snapping.
- Put the water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, mixing the sugar until dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes then remove from the heat and let cool. The syrup should be cold when the pastry is ready.
- Grease a frying pan with the vegan butter. Chop the nuts into chunks either by hand or pulsing a blender.
- Take the kadayıf out of the packet and find the places where the strands fold over. From here separate the pastry into flat segments of about 10cm width, each one containing several strands. You can gentyl rub strands that are stuck together between your fingers to loosen then. Lie one segment so that one end has the fold and the other has the loose ends. Make sure there aren't big gaps between the strands. Sprinkle pistachios along the centre of the pastry, leaving a 1cm gap along the edges. Pull the folded end in and over the nuts and continue to slowly roll the pastry diagonally to create a twisted tube. In terms of rolling technique, continue to turn the first end with one hand and move the other hand along to roll the pastry over and check gaps don't appear. Once you have your twisted pastry tube, pick up both ends and place along the edge of the greased frying pan. Repeat the pastry twisting until you have one large spiral in the pan. One will start where the previous one ended. Leave a small amount of pistachios for decoration later. Once all the pastry is in the pan, you can readjust to make sure it is neat without gaps. The spiral should be quite tight so that, once cooked, you can move it as one item.
- Use the bottom of a cup to press down the pastry, and tuck in any loose ends. Put the pan on low heat and pour 100ml oil across the pastry. Keep moving the pan so that the flame heats different parts of the pan. After 20 mins, slightly lift up pieces with a knife to check whether they are brown underneath. Keep cooking any areas that aren't brown. Once it is evenly cooked, place a plate on top of the pan and flip upside down. Remove any burnt crumbs from the pan and replace the pastry by sliding the pastry gently from the plate to the pan. Pour the remaining 50ml of oil into the pan and cook this side in the same way.
- When cooked, pour the syrup onto the pastry. After a few minutes, you can serve the Burma Kadayıfı in 10cm pieces and decorate with pistachios. I recommend grinding the decorative pistachios into powder. This syrup-soaked vegan crispy pastry is delicious when fresh and can keep for a week.