nightingale nests [‘ish al-bulbul]

These little nests have always been a childhood favourite. I still love them, but I love so many other Arabian sweets, too, I don’t think I have a one-and-only-fave any more. In Arabic, these are called ‘ish al-bulbul where ‘ish means nest, and bulbul is the Arabic name for Nightingale. The pistachios within the kataifi nests are supposed to be the eggs or baby birds. Cute concept, right?

With this recipe, as it was just a first time try from my instincts, I placed the pistachios before baking, so they came out quite browned, but not burnt. The ones we get from the shops in Syria are green. So comparing the two, I figured that maybe the pistachios come in 5 to 10 minutes before the baking is over, as suggested in my recipe below. Just a last point to make, I had already torn this kataifi for the knaafeh I made that day, so my nests are really messy. If you leave the Kataifi as is, your nests will turn out much neater. I promise. 🙂

Either way, enjoy this deliciously sweet treat with a hot cuppa tea on a cold winter day… or any day, actually! 🙂

Yields: 50 nests


180 g Kataifi pastry, at room temperature

100 pistachios (2 for each nest)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the rosewater syrup:

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

just under 1/8 tsp citric acid (or 1 tsp fresh lemon juice)

3 drops concentrated rosewater (or 1/2 tsp rosewater)



Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Lightly grease a 10 inch springform/aluminium pan.

Start by rubbing the butter into the Kataifi pastry until all the shreds are evenly coated.

Next, begin by taking a small amount of Kataifi and wrapping it around the top of your index finger, starting at the very tip to form a base, then sides. When you’ve wrapped your finger, tear off the excess Kataifi.

Place your finger on the pan, where you want to put the nest for baking. Ideally start around the edge of the pan and work your way inwards.

Carefully slide the wrapped Kataifi off your finger and into the pan.

Place two pistachios into the nest. Keep in mind the note I said above about the pistachios. Sawsan’s comment below may be the answer to our mystery. Soak the pistachios in water before baking will stop them from burning. I’m assuming you’ll need to soak them for 30 – 60 minutes 🙂

Repeat this process until the whole pan is full. You’ll probably be making some 50 nests as I did, so it’s good to have a friend over to chatter with 🙂 Look at how cute they are, even before baking 🙂

Place the tray on the centre rack in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the Kataifi is golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the rosewater syrup by placing a large non-stick saucepan on high heat and bringing sugar and water to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until clear, stirring occasionally.

Add the citric acid and rosewater.

Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then pour the syrup into a milkmug to cool.

When the nests are ready and hot from the oven, pour over the cooled syrup.

Be nice and invite some friends over so you can all…



18 thoughts on “nightingale nests [‘ish al-bulbul]

  1. Chica Andaluza says:

    They are so gorgeous – I had been wondering what they were since I saw them on your poll. Can´t get that pastry but perhaps next time I go to Granada I might find some in the Arab quarter? In the meantime, I can just dream about them…

  2. Charles says:

    These looks adorable! I’ve never heard of these, and I’ve been curious about them ever since you mentioned them in that poll a week or so ago. Thanks for sharing them. I must have a look out for that pastry. These look like a lot of fun to make, although it seems they might be quite fiddly, and I’m not the most delicate of people 😀

  3. fati's recipes says:

    Thanks for popping in everyone. Yes Charles, the ones I made were fiddly because I had already torn the Kataifi pastry for the knaafeh. But when it’s all in long strands, it’s a lot easier to do.
    I really hope you find Kataifi, Chica (and the rest of you 🙂 ) it’s an Arab dessert essential just like rosewater syrup is. Without the syrup, the dessert isn’t sweet at all! 🙂

  4. k.m. says:

    I adore these bird’s nests so much! I never thought I could make them at home but you make it appear so effortless and elegant. I’ll definitely be trying these soon, maybe for Valentine’s Day here in the US (my boyfriend loves these too).

  5. famlicook says:

    I am in love with your Blog! You have awesome pictures and easy recipes. I am of Indian origin, but love the Mediterranean food next best to Indian. I can’t wait to play with the shredded phillo dough I bought from the store and make those decadent nests. Thanks!

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