Today I’m sharing a favorite recipe from my cookbook; Home-made Zalabia. They’ve been described as fritters, dumplings, and pancakes. But a more fitting description of these beauties is Mini Funnel Cakes, with a Middle Eastern flair.
I started with a quick research online to see how many recipes are already out there. I was surprised to find so many versions and spellings, including Zlabia and Zalabya. The recipe names included Lebanese Sweet Fritters, Yemenite Fried Dough, Zalabya (A Jordanian Dessert), Hanukkah Fritters, and Jalebi (the Indian version of this popular Middle Eastern treat).
Needless to say, this recipe is popular throughout the Middle East and is enjoyed by many cultures. However, this is an updated version of the recipe in my cookbook (Mom’s Authentic Assyrian Recipes).
What Do Zalabia Taste Like?
As mentioned earlier, Zalabia can be compared to a mini funnel cake (minus the powdered sugar). The batter is made with ingredients that aren’t known for their flavor (corn starch, flour, yeast, salt, and baking powder). However, the irresistible flavor comes from the fried, crispy batter, and the rosewater-flavored syrup that the Zalabia is soaked in.
The result is a sticky, gooey treat! Whenever I have one, I’m instantly transformed back to my childhood. In fact, as a kid in Iraq, I always looked forward to my sister Beni’s in-law’s visit. They always brought a large tray full of store-bought Baklava and other sweets, including Zalabia, with them.
Not only did I enjoy this sweet couple’s visit, but I also enjoyed the delicious sweets that were always guaranteed with those visits!
How to Make the Perfect Zalabia
Making Zalabia is very simple, and only requires a few special ingredients and tools. Unlike, Jalebi, which
Be sure to have a bottle of rosewater on hand before starting on this recipe! Another helpful item would be a plastic condiment squeeze bottle. You will use the bottle to squeeze out the batter into swirls as you fry them.
We will start off by making the syrup, them allowing it to cool while we make the batter.
- Mix sugar, water, lemon juice, and rose water in a small saucepan.
- Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a slow boil for approximately ten minutes, or until it starts to have a syrupy consistency. (If it gets too thick, add a little more water and stir until it reaches the right consistency).
- Allow the syrup to cool off while you work on the batter.
- Mix yeast, sugar, and water, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Whisk in cornstarch, flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Cover and place in a warm location for one hour.
- Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.
- Place batter in a squeeze bottle, cut tip if necessary, for a thicker stream.
- Squeeze batter out of the bottle, into the hot oil, forming 3″ circles resembling funnel cakes.
- Drain on paper towels.
- While still warm, you (or a helper) can start dipping the Zalabia into the syrup. Allow the excess syrup to drip off, and place on a platter. Continue until the batter is used up.
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The perfect zalabia is light, crisp, and drenched in syrup, just like this!
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. rosewater
- 1 tsp. yeast
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil for frying (or more as needed)
Mix sugar, water, lemon juice, and rose water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Bring to a slow boil for approximately ten minutes, or until it starts to have a syrupy consistency.
Allow the syrup to cool off while you work on the batter.
Mix yeast, sugar, and water. Cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Mix in cornstarch, flour, salt, and baking powder.
Cover and place in a warm location for one hour.
Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.
Place batter in a squeeze bottle, cut the tip of the bottle if necessary.
Squeeze batter out of the bottle, into the hot oil, forming 3″ circles resembling funnel cakes.
Drain on paper towels. While still warm, dip the Zalabia in the syrup and allow excess to drip off.
Continue until the batter is used up. Enjoy!
It’s helpful to have someone help you when it’s time to fry the Zalabia. While one of you fries and drains the Zalabia, the other can dip them in the syrup, while still warm, and plate them.