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Mother’s day Challah

Mother’s day Challah

My mom is an amazing woman. Strong, caring, intelligent and yet loving. She is the strength of the family and we are so lucky to be born to her.


She is my inspiration in so many ways. She manages home while handling the business just as well. I still remember to what lengths she would go ( and still does to make things for us. Be it a dress for a play in school, be it packing tiffin with special treats for the school trip, be it helping with math homework to be it helping us with the babies, she does it effortlessly.

She is a great cook, a great entrepreneur and so many more things, but the biggest things that stands out is her unconditional love towards her family. She brings every one together. So today;s recipe is dedicated to my Aai( Thats what I call her).


She always pushes us to challenge ourselves. As you all know I cook a lot but have not been much of a baker. So this birthday resolution was to learn baking.

Today I have made Challah. Challah is a jewish bread( said like halla). You would typically see this in a braided form. Since I am making this for mother’s day I wanted to incorporate something that is significant to my Mom. My Mom not only loves us all very much, she has also created a family where all of us love each other very much.We are four siblings and we are like a tight fist.

Today I decided to make a round challah with four ropes and top it with four different seeds. This represent how my Mom’s love has brought us together and sort of her arms around the four of us.

Mother’s day Challah


The recipe comes from a very famous book, Breaking breads .  I am in love with that book and you will be seeing many more recipes soon. I love how he not gives step by step instructions but also tells a bit of a history as well.



  • 1000 grams ( about 7 cups) flour sifted well
  • 400 grams room temperature water
  • 15 grams Active dry yeast
  •  100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 15 grams salt

Egg wash and toppings

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2/3 cup different seeds, I have used Nigella, Poppy, Fennel and sesame seeds

Mix all of these together to make an egg wash


Make the dough

  • In a stand mixer, add water and yeast, whisk it till combined
  • Add flour, eggs, sugar and salt
  • Mix the dough on low speed till the ingredients are combined. Stop and sracpe the flour if needed to avoid dry flour patches. It should take about 2 mins for the dough to come together
  • Now increase the speed and knead the dough on medium for about 4 minutes.
  • Now take the dough on a lightly floured surface
  • stretch and fold the dough  for about a minute as shown in the picture below 


  • Rest the dough for about 45 mins. It should be about 70% risen
  • Heat the oven at 425 F
  • Shaping the dough-Today I am going to shape it in a circle with 4 ropes, representing my Mom’s four kids. 
    • Take the risen dough and gently put it on a floured board.
    • Make it into a rectangle, make sure you do not deflate the dough
    • Cut the rectangle into 2 pieces.  Keep one piece aside.
    • With one half of the rectangle, make four parts.
    • Roll each part into a 14 inch cylinder
    • Weave the four ropes as I call them into a round

  • Cover and let it proof for at least 40 mins. To check if the dough has risen enough , when you press the dough surface with your finger, the indentation should fill up about 1/2 way. If your dough is not risen, the indentation wont fill, if its over risen, it will fill up to fast
  • Decorating
    • Now comes the fun part, decorating the challah
    • Brush with challah with egg-wash
    • Sprinkle with seeds of your choice.
  • Here I have used four different seeds to decorate


  • Bake at 425 F for about 25-30 mins
  • Serve with butter & honey. I served it with a Apple -Honey Jam

WhatsApp Image 2017-05-13 at 11.39.03 AM





We as a family love eating at small food joints, hole in the wall places. If it is run by a family, even better. One such place near where we live is a ‘Falafel place’, and it is one of our favorites. They serve standard menu but their falafels are so good, made fresh using the fava beans. I think the cuisine is influenced by Israeli cuisine,  they have some nice wall plaques that show the glimpses of Jerusalem.  This is where I first tasted Knafeeh.It is by far my most favorite middle eastern dessert.  The first time I ate it, I went back twice that week. The third time I decided to talk to the owner and ask for the recipe. He did not quite know the details but gave me enough to start. I read up and here is my recipe.

There are many ways to spell it like Knafee, Kanafeh but those all are the same dish. This dish is eaten as a breakfast as well. How fun must it be  to start your day with a yummy dessert for breakfast. I can totally see myself doing that.

The first time I made it, I made it in a big tray. It turned out good but when we started eating it, everyone wanted the crispy part. So next time I decided to try making it a little differently.




Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons rose  or orange blossom water

For the knafeh

  • 3 cups, or ½ package, of shredded phyllo knafeh dough (kataifi)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup ackawi cheese  or fresh mozzarella cheese ( I like to use half and half)
  • 1 cup  ricotta  cheese
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup farina (cream of Wheat or Sooji)
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish, optional


To make the orange blossom syrup, in a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the orange blossom or rose water , pour into a heatproof container and refrigerate to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle position.

The katafeh dough is like thin vermicelli. It comes in a pack which is kept in the freezer. you can use scissors to cut it in tiny pieces or in the food processor, pulse the shredded phyllo dough for about a minute to make it into a fine meal.


Place the phyllo in a medium bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter and stir until the phyllo is completely coated.

In a muffin pan, add the buttery dough mixture. Compress it very well by pushing it into the bottom of the pan firmly, first with your hands, then pressing with the flat bottom of a cup, or something similar. You can also use a 10-inch clear pie plate or cake pan.

If the ackawi cheese is too salty, soak it in cold water until some of the salt is pulled out. Change the water every 10 minutes or so. This cheese originates from Akki region in Northern Israel. Stored in brine, it can stay good for a long time. Grate the cheese.

Grate the mozzarella cheese.


In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it is hot, but not boiling. Add the farina and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Pour the farina over the cheese and stir to combine.


Pour the cheese mixture over the knafeh dough in the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Cover with the remaining knafeh dough.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the knafeh is deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.


Turn the knafeh out onto a platter and drizzle with ¼ cup of orange blossom syrup. If you are using the muffin tins, take the out on a plate and over over the syrup.


Garnish with pistachio nuts. Serve immediately or set aside and reheat before serving. Cut into squares or slices and serve the knafeh warm, with more orange blossom syrup poured over each piece.

It is the most divine thing to eat, when you bite into the crispy outside and find this gooey cheesy filling inside.


Turn the knafeh out onto a platter and drizzle with ¼ cup of orange blossom syrup. Garnish with pistachio nuts. Serve immediately or set aside and reheat before serving. Cut into squares or slices and serve the knafeh warm, with more orange blossom syrup poured over each piece.