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zalābiyya recipe

Professor Daniel L Newman shares a recipe from his recent book 'The Exile's Cookbook'. The unique medieval cookbook reveals the fascinating development of the Arab culinary tradition and its profound influence on European cooking.


Take a sufficient amount of yeast and soak it in water until the mixture starts to resemble curdled milk.

Strain into a pot and add sifted darmak flour. When it has dissolved, add flour until you are left with a batter of medium consistency, neither light nor thick.

Then use a small thimble-sized cup with a small hole in the bottom to scoop up the batter.

Prepare a frying pan with a lot of olive oil and put it over a fire.

Cover the hole in the cup with your finger. Hold the cup over the pan and then remove your finger from the hole to let its contents flow out. Move the cup around with your hand and form lattices, and other shapes like circles.

When the frying makes the zulābiyya pieces rise [to the surface], quickly remove them, drain off the oil, and immerse them in boiled skimmed honey.

Leave them in until they have absorbed the honey, and then transfer them to a wooden board or reed lattice to dry. If they look too thin, add some more flour [to the dough], leave it to rise, and repeat what has been said.

Then, eat, Allah the Exalted willing.

(The Exile’s Cookbook. Medieval Gastronomic Treasures from al-Andalus and North Africa, 2023, 139-40, No. 73).

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