Kahiye: Thin dough with a delicious cheesy filling


The title might sound like a savory börek but this is dessert is also called “katmer tatlısı”.

What is kahiye?

Kahiye is a very simple dough that is rolled out thinly and stuffed with a cheese filling. After either frying it in fat or on a lightly greased pan, it is doused in syrup.

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The origins

When discussing desserts that involve a thin layer of dough, then you have to talk about yufka. Yufka is essentially a simple dough that is rolled out thinly and baked either lightly to be used like a cloth for other desserts and dishes or baked through to have it as a crispy bread. The baked through version makes it easy to store and quite preservable, something that the early nomadic Turks were looking for. Baking their thin breads in this manner was essential for nomadic people (1) and the combination with sweet ingredients is considered the forefather of the baklava we know today. (2)

The origins of yufka can be traced back centuries and was mentioned in the 11th century Turkic dictionary “Diwan Lughat al-Turk” as well. Key here is that the ingredient itself but the other name for the dessert, the “katmer” part of it, was mentioned there too. (3)

The Seljuks settling in Anatolia were known for their simple but delectable dishes, particularly a single layer of dough packaging cheese and then at the very least a sprinkling syrup wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. (4) A different version arose over the centuries and many thought that the version with cheese and pistachios was the most popular. Locals in Mardin, where the dessert keeps its renowned status and represents one of the many delicious desserts of the region, say that the dessert is nowadays reserved for the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan. The version made with walnuts in it would be called “kitkat” and further version feature dates, which again would be more prevalent in Ramadan due to the dates’ filling and nurturing nature. (5)

The dessert should be eaten hot without letting the syrup soaking up too much. The cheese mentioned here is the same kind that is used in “künefe”, a dessert made with “tel kadayıf”, where it is sandwiched together. The cheese lacks salt and has a mild flavor and melts just enough to make it stringy when it is eaten.

Kahiye: Thin dough with a delicious cheesy filling

Buying the yufka for these is always an option but everyone who has tasted it will tell you that the freshly rolled out dough is always the better version of it. Roll up those sleeves and have a try.
Servings 4



  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400-500 gr flour


  • 400 ml water
  • 450 gr sugar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • For the filling
  • 1 kg künefe cheese
  • oil for frying


  • Make a dough out of the ingredients listed. The original recipes always say to add as much flour needed to make it a soft non-sticky dough. This might mean for you that more than the 500 grams could be needed depending on what kind of flour you are using.
  • Once kneaded, set the dough aside and make the syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling it for 5 minutes.
  • Once those are made, squeeze the lemon juice into it and let it cool off. You can make the syrup ahead of time as cooled syrup will be needed.
  • Crumble up the cheese and set a bit of oil to the side for the filling.
  • Start rolling out small pieces of the dough as thinly as possible.
  • Brush on a bit of the oil and then spread some of the cheese into the middle in a rectangular manner and fold each side of the dough over it.
  • If the dough overlaps, fold it even further to make sure that the cheese will stay inside the dough.
  • The usual way of making these is to fry them in plenty of oil and once fried, sprinkling the syrup over them and directly serving them.
  • The older way of making them is to have a “sac”, a metal plate over fire, that you slightly oil and bake them in that manner.
  • Either way the resulting dessert is delicious.



(1) Priscilla Mary Işın, “Yufka: Food For The Cook’s Imagination” in Wrapped and Stuffed Foods: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2012
(2) Ziyat Akkoyunlu, “Türk Mutfağından Kaybolan Kerkük Yemekleri” in Motif Akademi Halkbilimi Dergisi, vol. 2, pp. 328-336, 2012.
(3) Mustafa Aksoy, Gülistan Sezgi, Gastronomi ve Güneydoğu Anadolu Bölgesi Gastronomik Unsurları in “Journal of Tourism and Gastronomy Studies”, 2015
(4) Ömür ALYAKUT , Saime KÜÇÜKKÖMÜRLER, Geleneksel Bir Ekmek Çeşidi: Yufka Ekmeği in “Journal of Tourism and Gastronomy Studies”, 2018
(5) Lokman Toprak, Mardin ve Yemek Kültürü, 2015