Making the Perfect Middle Eastern Baklava may seem complicated but it’s really simple with this recipe. You’ll be licking your fingers clean of the honey syrup in no time.
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In honor of the new upcoming Aladdin movie, by Disney. I’m dedicating the week for recipes that are inspired by the movie. Have a picnic on your magic carpet.
When I went to Greece 10 years ago, I ate some of the very best food ever. I had great food in markets, in nice restaurants, and in little divey places too. Maybe it was just because I was on vacation but I swear everything was just so good there. Everything was fresh, flavorful, and so fantastic.
Thankfully, I had the chance to eat plenty of baklava!
Of course, baklava from your favorite Greek restaurant is always great. BUT baklava in Greece will always be the best, at least to me.
The loukoumades were also stellar, but I’m gonna focus on the baklava. I couldn’t believe that I was standing in the platka area of Athens licking honey syrup off my fingers, enjoy the dessert and the ancient architecture all around me. It was fulfilling trip, in so many ways.
While Agrabah is a fictional place, Aladdin is set in a Middle Eastern location. The sultan’s palace was inspired by the Taj Mahal, so it makes people think of a setting similar to India. The origin of the story is actually from China, but over time people started to think of it as a Middle Eastern story based upon linguistic clues in the text itself.
I am sharing this Middle Eastern style Bakalava that I think will make Jasmine and Aladdin happy. I bet you will be happy to when you take a big bite.
Baklava might seem complicated, but it’s really quiet easy to make. I promise!
To be honest, it’s a bit time consuming, but it’s not complicated at all. It took me some time to chop the nuts- about 20 minutes actually. The nuts need to be very finely chopped, so take the time to finely work through the nuts.
I find that it’s easiest to pile up the nuts, and work my knife through them, over and over again, then I start to section off the nuts that are size appropriately. I then continue to work my way through the rest of the nuts, chopping them up to be the correct size as well.
Besides that, you need to make a cinnamon honey syrup. Just combine the ingredients in a pot, and let it simmer until it’s syrupy.
And the rest is assembly, which is simple as well. It’s just like assembling a lasagna, but with phyllo and nuts instead of cheese, noodles, and sauce.
Phyllo is delicate so just be patient when you are handling it. Don’t worry too much if you rip it, you can use the ripped pieces in the middle layer of the phyllo.
When it’s done baking, the crisp golden phyllo dough layers then soak up the sweet honey syrup, making it so delicious.
Walnuts are common in Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel, etc area) based Baklavas. Pistachios and almonds are common in Iran. Since the exact location of Agrabah is unknown, I decided to combine all 3 nuts. It is a great way of making a really flavorful baklava.
Be sure to make this Perfect Middle Eastern Baklava for your fun Aladdin movie viewing party.
Start with the original animated one, then head out and watch the new live action one. Maybe you’ll skip the popcorn and bring some baklava with you in the theater. Shhh, I won’t tell. ha!!
More Delicious Middle Eastern Dishes
So what is Baklava?
The word Baklava is from the Farsi for “many leaves”, which describes it perfectly. The delicate layers resemble leaves. Baklava is made of delicate sheets of phyllo dough, nuts, and a honey based sugar syrup.
What kind of nuts are in Baklava?
Walnuts are commonly used in baklava. But the use of blanched almonds and pistachios is also very common in areas like Iran. Combining nuts it another way to create a very flavorful baklava.
What makes a great Baklava?
Baklava is known for its crispy, light layers that surround a nutty filling. The phyllo layers give it great crunch, while holding on to the syrup so well.
Baking the baklava so it is golden and crisp is key to creating a crunchy baklava that will hold up to the rich, thick, sweet syrup. The syrup is created with honey, water, and sugar. You can change the spices you add in there to emphasize more cinnamon, clove, all spice- depending on preferences. Adding some lemon juice also brings out the great spices.
How to Store Baklava?
Baklava can be kept for up to 2 weeks. Tightly cover your pan with plastic wrap.
For the Baklava
- 1 pound very finely chopped nuts, such as walnuts, blanched almonds, unsalted pistachios (can be a combination)
- 1/4 Cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed (thawing can take 3 hours)
- 1 1/4 Cups butter, melted
For the Syrup
- 1 1/2 Cups honey
- 1 1/2 Cups sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups water
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.
- To make the baklava filling: Combine all the nuts, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl.
- Wet 2 clean cloth dish towels; ring out well. Place the thawed phyllo between the dish towels.
- Begin assembling the baklava by placing a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets. Cover the phyllo with half of the filling. Add 8 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter. Spread with the remaining nut mixture and end with a top layer of 8 sheets, continuing to brush each with butter. Butter the top layers really well.
- Using a sharp knife, cut through the top layer of pastry into 4 long equal lengthwise strips. Then cross cut to make 24 total pieces.
- Just before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water. (This prevents the pastry from curling.)
- Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 additional minutes.
- While the baklava bakes, make the syrup: In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all of the ingredients, except for the orange blossom extract. Simmer on low, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Stop stirring, increase to medium heat, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy, about 5 minutes (it will register 225 degrees on a candy thermometer). Discard the cinnamon stick. Let cool.
- When the baklava is done baking, complete cutting through the scored lines. Evenly drizzle the cooled syrup over the hot baklava; let cool for at least 4 hours.
Finely chop the nuts. Chop the nuts, then chop them some more, and some more again. You want them to be very fine.
Store the well covered baklava at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. If it starts to dry out, then make a partial bath of syrup and cover with the cooled syrup.
Check out all these awesome Aladdin inspired recipes from fellow Disney bloggers!
- Abu’s Monkey Around Muffins
- Jasmine’s Magical Milkshake
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries Inspired by Princess Jasmine
- Prince Ali A-boba Blueberry Aladdin Smoothie
- Aladdin’s Magic Lamp Eclairs
- Rajah’s Tiger Fudge
- Abu Chocolate Mousse Cups
- Magic Carpet Eggrolls
- 3 Wishes Genie-tini
- Healthy Aladdin Parfaits
- Disney’s Aladdin Cave of Wonders Milkshake
- Rajah’s Rolls- Chia Spiced Cinnamon Rolls