Have you ever tried zalabia ? I guess every culture has their own fried dough specialties. Zalabia (Lebanese sweet fritters) - one of our favorite breakfast treats alongside Manakeesh - are traditional deep fried treats that are made of fermented dough - I call them a glorious affair. Simply because you can have them for breakfast with labneh and a cup of tea or dust them with some icing sugar and serve them as a dessert. Any way you eat them, they are really great, though they may not be good for your waistline but will disappear from your table in no time. Not to be confused with the zalabia in Egypt (the spongy fried balls soaked in sugar syrup). The Lebanese version is totally different.
My sweet friend Didi of Dishin with Didi wrote a beautiful review of my book! Didi tried the zalabia with a tahini-honey dip, which she described in her post as "absolute heaven" - though tahini is closely associated with Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, I have never thought of serving it with zalabia - this should be wonderful!! That's what's called creativity and cultural diffusion!! Didi, you are a genius!!
The star ingredient here is the anise seed that gives the zalabia a distinct flavor. Anise seed is a spice native to the Middle East. It has a mild fragrant aroma and a sweet taste that is similar to licorice.
A cup of tea with labneh and zalabia is a match made in heaven. Serve them warm or at room temperature. Like all fritters, they are best eaten the day they are made. Happy eating!
Anise Seeds and Sesame Seeds
Divide the dough into equal balls roughly the size of an egg (about 22 balls).
They look incredible, right? And they taste as they look!!
- 21/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole anise seeds
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- ¾ or 1 cup lukewarm water
- 11/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 3 cups canola oil, for deep frying
- In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, dry yeast, sesame seeds, anise seeds, milk and oil.
- Add the lukewarm water. Mix and knead thoroughly with the palm of your hands. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for one hour or until the dough doubles in size.
- Divide the dough into equal balls roughly the size of an egg (about 22 balls)
- Roll each ball into a snack shape (about 15cm/6 inches long) with the palm of your hands.
- Using a rolling pin, lightly flatten each to 1.5 cm/ about ½ inch thick.
- With your finger, pierce creating 3 holes per dough. Set aside for 25 minutes.
- Heat the oil to an adequate frying temperature and deep fry the dough in batches to a golden color. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Serve with Labneh
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