Zlabia North African Honey Fritters 💥

DEEP FRIED SUGAR PRETZEL.
That’s basically what we’re talking about here. So, now that I have your attention let me introduce you to one of my favourite North African sweets — zlabia . This pastry is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. It’s ridiculously sweet and sticky. I don’t even want to entertain the idea of how many calories one has but I think it’s nearly as gluttonous as an American-style deep-fried Oreo.  The texture is what gets me though — the dough sort of ‘pops’ in your mouth with each bite like a little bright orange firework. 💥
We typically only eat these during Ramadan because I’m not brave enough to make them on my own (deep frying things is not my jam) and so I just buy them from my local Tunisian bakery.
Versions of zlabia exist all across North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia (where it’s called jalebi) and it’s a popular dish during Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious festivals. You know, I’ve always been a firm believer that food can bring people together!
Since it was impossible to find a recipe in English for the North African version I’m talking about,  I translated one for you from Algerian French. Keep calm and eat zlabia!


Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
    • a few sprigs of saffron
    • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon sesame
    • 1 teaspoon of plain thick yogurt (like fromage blanc or fermented milk)
    • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
    • 1 packet instant dry yeast (1/3 oz)
    • pinch of salt
    • a little under 1 cup lukewarm water
    • oil for frying

For the Glaze: 

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 oz orangeflower extract
How To: 
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, yeast, cardamom, sesame, yogurt and oil. While mixing, add the lukewarm water little by little then whip for 1 minute. Cover with a dry towel and let sit at room temperature or warmer.
  2. While waiting, prepare the glaze. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar into the water and lemon juice. Cover and let cook down for 30-40 minutes until the glaze is a nice golden colour.
  3. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes, then add the orange-flower extract and mix well. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Prepare your frying oil in a proper pan (less than a half-inch depth should do it)
  5. Pour the prepared dough into a piping bag with a small round nozzle.
  6. Once the oil is hot, pipe the dough directly into the oil using smooth, round movements. Each zlabia should be not more than 4 inches in diameter.
  7. Let them brown on each side, flipping over when ready.
  8. When cooked, remove from the oil and let drain on paper towel.
  9. Plunge them into the glaze making sure to cover each zlabia completely.
  10. Remove with a fork or skimmer and let dry on a rack.
  11. Serve with a mint tea and enjoy! 💥🍵 🌿

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