M’hanncha (‘the Snake’)

A book extra for The Sheikh’s Chosen Queen

This delicious recipe figures into the story...

In The Sheikh’s Chosen Queen, King Sharif’s chef serves M’hanncha for dessert on Jesslyn’s first night at the palace.

M’hanncha, a dessert made of filo dough and stuffed with sweetened ground almonds before being coiled like a snake and fried in butter, is Sharif’s favorite dessert. I am sharing Saad Fayed’s recipe below. Saad Fayed is a restauranteur with an avid interest in preparing Middle Eastern cuisine. He has lived and traveled in many Middle Eastern countries, experiencing the many flavors and specialties of each region. Saad is currently writing a cookbook that features his family’s favorite dishes. For more on Saad and his recipes, please visit his site.

  • 1/2 package of filo dough, or 8 sheets
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups almonds
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • powdered cinnamon for dusting, plus 1 teaspoon

  1. Place the almonds, sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a food processor and process to a paste.
  2. Take one sheet of filo dough and place 1/4 cup of the almond paste and spread it down the center, in the shape if a thick pencil.
  3. Roll the dough around the paste, and form into a snake coil.
  4. Fry in butter until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Repeat with remaining dough and paste.

Yields 8 pastries.