Jalebi Originally Zalabia

Zalabia is an ancient Arabic dessert, traditionally consisting of a semolina dough, that is deep fried then drenched in sugar syrup. This dessert, and with time, has taken many forms and shapes and was adopted by many cuisines, each of which slightly tweaked it to their cuisines and palate preferences. Jalebi for instance (Pakistani/Indian) is derived from Zalabia. In the asian cuisine, as in the north African cuisine the derivatives had been flavoured with saffron. In the area of the gulf and Iraq, it has been made with cardamom. Also while the traditional recipe calls for dipping Zalabia in sugar syrup as soon as it is out of the fryer, many people nowadays only sprinkle it with icing sugar or caster sugar.

While originally the zalabia would have been randomly dropped into the hot oil using a ladle or a spoon, it later became squeezed out of a narrow ended container to form uniform lines & shapes. To date, you will find both versions made throughout the Arabic cuisine from the spread out rounds, to the random shapes and even the tangled up lines. The namings have differed though, as the tangled up lines became known as Mushabak, while the bread-like shape continued to be known as Zalabia.

This here is the Jordanian cuisine’s recipe for Zalabia. It is slightly modified from the original zalabia recipe, however just as good. This recipe, is generously shared here by the Jordanian food blogger Rawan Otoom.


  • 1.5 Kg all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 tsp Mahleb
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seed
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seed
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Warm Water for kneading the dough
  • Mixture of extra virgin olive oil and corn oil for frying
  • Sugar syrup for serving

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the oil and rub it with the flour between your palms, until it coats the flour and resembles sand. Add the warm water gradually and knead until you get a smooth dough.

Place some oil on a tray, cut the dough into small balls and put them on the tray. Cover and let rise for one hour.

Roll each ball into a small thin round and then fry in the hot oil on both sides, until u reach a beautiful golden color (use two forks and keep poking the dough during the frying process to prevent air pockets).

Once done, remove and drain the Zalabia rounds on paper towel and then pour some ready made sugar syrup on each.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

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