As the Jewish holiday of Chanukah fast approaches (this year, it begins on the evening of Tuesday December 4th), recipes for latkes and other deep-fried delicacies will abound. Here is a recipe from our favorite – Claudia Roden – for “Zalabia” – deep-fried yummies, which she writes are from Egypt.
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I’ve copied and pasted the Q & A below, but you should check out the whole article here. Of course, recipes embody cross-cultural influences and often you’ll find many recipes for the same dish, each region claming it as their own and/or emphasizing the traditional tastes of their own locale.
The politics of the Palate.
If you click here, you’ll find the “Horesh Family Recipe index” (Horesh is a common last name of Iraqi Jews – and there are lots of good recipes here) . They list the Zalabia as being Iraqi Chanukah Fritters.
So whether these are Egyptian, Greek or Iraqi in origin – who cares? Enjoy!
There are many different recipes for Loukoumades, called Zalabia in Egypt. They are served soaked in sugar syrup or dusted with icing sugar. I use a recipe that is delicious although the fritters do not come out quite round. It is not an easy recipe but I hope you enjoy making it.
For the sugar syrup
500 ml water
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon rose or orange-blossom water
For the batter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 packet fast action dry yeast
750 ml warm water (1 part boiling to two parts cold)
Light vegetable oil for deep-frying.
For the syrup, put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add the rose or orange-blossom water and simmer a few seconds longer, then chill, covered.
For the batter, put the flour in a large bowl, mix in the salt and yeast, then stir in the water gradually, beating vigorously for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour, then beat the batter once more and let it rise again.
Make the fritters in batches. Pour little balls of batter by the teaspoon or tablespoon (they can be small or large) into sizzling but not too hot oil and fry until puffed up, crisp and golden, turning them to brown them all over. You may find it easier if you dip the spoon in oil so that the batter rolls off easily. Lower the heat a little so that the fritters have time to get done inside before they are too brown. The batter is light and produces irregular, rather than perfectly round, shapes. If the oil is not hot enough to begin with the batter tends to flatten out.
Lift the fritters out with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and dip them in the cold syrup for a few seconds, or let them soak up the syrup for longer. They are at their best hot, but are also good cold.
For variation, you can pour over the fritters honey heated up with about half the quantity water. You can also sprinkle instead with icing (confectioner’s) sugar and cinnamon.