• 24-40 baklawa, depending on preferred size
  • 1 hour 30 minutes

Sticky, rich and crunchy, baklawa are a delicious ghee-soaked treat. This simple recipe from Imad Alarnab is quite different from most baklawa recipes in that it only uses a tiny amount of sugar – just a teaspoon. The majority of the flavour comes instead from the nuts, filo pastry, ghee and orange blossom water.

This recipe is taken from Imad’s Syrian Kitchen by Imad Alarnab (HarperCollins Publishers, £26).

First published in 2023

This recipe won’t work with English filo pastry, as it’s too thick; you need to get the proper filo for baklawa that you’ll find in Middle Eastern shops. The trick to good baklawa is to be quick and careful. Get everything ready around you before you start, including a large, clean tea towel to keep the filo from drying out while you’re making it. This is a pistachio and walnut version, but you can use any nuts you like. I like to use a mix.






Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C/gas 3½


Start by toasting the nuts in a large baking tin in a single layer in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Add the sugar, orange blossom water and water, then crush the nuts either using a pestle and mortar or a blender. Be careful if using a blender as you want a very chunky texture, not a fine crumb. The water and sugar should make your nuts delicious and sticky


Melt the ghee in a pan over a low heat and set aside to stay warm. Brush a baking tin (with sides), 35 x 25cm, with a little ghee

  • 100g of ghee, good-quality

Unroll the filo so it’s flat on the work surface, then lay the prepared baking tin on top of the filo and cut around the edge, so your filo is the exact same size. Remove the excess edges (use in another recipe), then place the cut filo in a clean tea towel to keep it from drying out (you should have 24 layers of filo)

  • 470g of filo pastry, or up to 500g, Turkish, extra-thin

Place half the filo layers in the greased tin, then sprinkle with all the nuts. Spread them out into an even layer and pat them down a little. Now top with the other half of the filo layers, and, with the back of a spoon, tuck in the edges of the filo, so that they curl in neatly down the sides of the tin. Working quickly so the filo doesn’t dry out, slice your baklawa into diamonds. I prefer them small, and make 40, but you can choose any size you like here


If your ghee has cooled, reheat it again to melt, pour it over everything, then bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes until golden on top

First published in 2023

Imad Alarnab was forced to flee Damascus during the Syrian war, leaving behind his restaurants and cafes. He worked his way back up, at first cooking in refugee camps, then starting pop-ups in London, and finally opening his first restaurant in the UK, Imad's Syrian Kitchen. His debut cookbook, Imad's Syrian Kitchen, was released in 2023.

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