Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Rose-water kodafa with pistachio

Jerry Stratton, February 5, 2006

Rose-water, saffron, and honey give this oddly light dessert its main flavoring, and the whole thing can be whipped up in under an hour. The use of couscous for the cake portion makes this a surprisingly light dessert.


Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 1 hour


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 14 oz ricotta cheese
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 pinches saffron threads
  • 1 tsp rose-water
  • 6 tblsp chopped pistachios


  1. Pour the boiling water over the couscous, and stir with a fork. Leave for thirty minutes, until the water is completely absorbed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Break up the lumps in the couscous, and then stir in the butter chunks.
  4. Stir in the beaten egg and the salt.
  5. Spread half the couscous mix into an 8 1/2 inch springform cake pan.
  6. Mix together the cheeses and 2 tablespoons of the honey.
  7. Spread the cheese mixture over the couscous.
  8. Top with the remaining couscous, pressing gently.
  9. Bake for fifteen minutes.
  10. While baking the cake, make the syrup. Put the honey, water, and saffron into a pan, bring to a boil (stirring), and boil for about seven minutes.
  11. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the rose-water.
  12. When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and turn the oven to broil. Place the cake under the broiler and cook until the top is lightly browned with a golden crust.
  13. Sprinkle the pistachio nuts over the cake.
  14. Slice the cake and pour the syrup over each slice.

I found this recipe as “Cheese-filled Jerusalem Kodafa” in The African and Middle-Eastern Cookbook from Hermes House--a book I picked up from the bargain pile at the local Borders. For what appears to be a straight-to-remainder publishing house, their cookbooks tend to be of quite high quality, though it does make it difficult to find their books on-line. This book appears to be the same as Food and Cooking of Africa and Middle East but with a different cover.

The biggest change that I made in making this dessert is the switch from orange-water to rose-water. I’ve also used the low-range of some ingredients so as to fit in what as far as I can tell is the more standard 8.5- to 9-inch springform pan.

You can pour the syrup over the whole cake, or you can save the syrup for each individual slice. Or some combination of the two.

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