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El Zalabia

    El Zalabia or Zlabia in the Algerian dialect is a popular sweet in Northern and Eastern African countries. Some historians reported that it is originally a Turkish dessert and that the Algerians learned to cook it during the Ottoman Empire rule; that is why it is also very popular in Turkey, Tunisia, Syria, and Lebanon. Every Algerian agrees that one of the most significant symbols of Ramadan is Zlabia. It is heavily available during Ramadan. The city of Boufariq (40 Km western of Algiers) has a reputation as the best city in Algeria for cooking this type of sweets. So, don’t get astonished if you see there long queues of Algerians under the sun rays waiting in the Zlabia shops to buy their beloved dessert, during Ramadan. 

   There are several recipes for preparing zlabia, the following is one of the most used recipes in Algeria:

Batter:   -1 cup of flour and 1 cup of semolina 
              - 1 and half cup of warm water 
              -1 tablespoon of yeast
             -1 teaspoon of salt
             -2 tablespoon of oil
             -Saffron or Red food coloring (to get either yellow or orange Zlabia)
Syrup: -5 cups of sugar
            -3 cups of water
            -½ tablespoon of lemon juice or slices 
            - ½ tablespoon of rose water.

Preparation: Put the flour and semolina in a bowel .Add the yeast, oil, salt and the warm water. Mix them with an electric mixer. Add the saffron or the red coloring to the batter to get the color you want. Cover the mixture  with a clean cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 15 min , then beat the batter another 10 minutes, and let it rise again for 30 minutes. Beat the batter again for 10 minutes, and then let it rest a final time for 30 minutes. The secret for making good Zlabia is to beat the dough at regular intervals and allow resting again (at least 3 times). While the batter is resting, make the syrup.

Syrup: Place the sugar in saucepan until it gets the brown color. Add water, lemon slices and rose water in a saucepan .Let them boil altogether very well.

  In the other hand, heat the oil in the pan .Then, press the batter through a pastry tube to shape balls or discs and drop them into the oil. Let them fry from the both sides until they get the golden brown color. Frying them very well makes them crackling. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow draining on paper towels. Dip them in the cold syrup for a few seconds while they are still very hot and lift them out again ;this makes them a rich source of calories (if you prefer, you may leave them longer to soak up syrup). Set them on a wire rack with wax paper underneath to drain. The sweets are served warm or cold. Bon Appetit! 

El Zalabia (Written by ARAB Sabrina)

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