Loukoumades, Lokma, or Zalabya is a traditional street food dessert in many countries in the Mediterranean region. Traditional loukoumades are sweet pastry balls deep-fried to a golden crispy perfection.
Loukoumades are favorite fried sweet dumplings, one round ball that is, usually, dunked in simple syrup. Crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside. A wildly popular golden nuggets street dessert.
Learn how to make lokoumades with step by step photos and a quick video tutorial so you’ll master it in no time!
Next time, try these cheese fritters!
- All-purpose flour.
- Starch this helps crisp the balls from the outside.
- Yeast and sugar to activate the yeast.
- Full fat yogurt: adds flavor and moistness.
- Warm water to knead the dough.
- Sugar, honey, lemon juice, water, and flavors to make the simple syrup.
- Chocolate, corn syrup, heavy cream, and sugar for the chocolate syrup.
- Cinnamon and sugar to make cinnamon sugar.
Lokoumades: a step by step guide
- In the bowl of you mixer add all the dough dry ingredients and mix well.
- Pour in warm water and mix. You'll notice that you'll end up with a stiff dough, do not worry. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes in a warm place.
- Add yogurt and keep mixing for at least 3 minutes until the yogurt is completely incorporated into the dough. This will take time so do not get frustrated or be tempted to add flour. If you must and feel that it is not coming together, give it just 1 Tablespoon of flour. JUST ONE, I promise it will come together.
- Your dough now will be very stretchy as seen above. Cover and let it rise for an hour or now you can cover and refrigerate until next day. Images 4 and 5.
- Heat oil for frying, using your small ice cream scoop - BTW guys this is a very handy tool so invest in one if you do not have one already- form dough balls. Dip the scoop into a small plate of oil, scoop the dough and drop into the hot oil. You can also use 1/2 Tablespoon measuring spoon to do the job.
- Fry until golden brown, you'll notice that the balls will float and that's why this recipe is also called Awamat which means floaties in Arabic.
- Place the fried dough balls into a deep bowl of cooled syrup or roll them hot in cinnamon sugar. You can also dust with some powdered sugar or better make a chocolate syrup and drizzle above. Images 3 and 4.
Loukoumades recipe like a pro
Loukoumades, Lokma or Zalabya, there are so many names for these simple fried balls. They are a far relative to the doughnut holes, the Indian Gulab Jamun, Italian Neapolitan Struffoli, and the Mongolian Boortsog. These were a favorite for my late father whenever he sees a shop or a street cart selling them, he had to order.
Once when I was in Egypt about 8 years ago, I wanted to make it for him so I did my batter, fried the balls, dunked them in syrup. They tasted great but looked weird and not uniform. I remember he laughed a lot about how they looked back then.
In search for the best recipe and the best looking lukaimat, I've experimented a lot. If you've been following me on Instagram, then you've probably noticed me experimenting with this recipe for almost 5 times until I got it they way my father would approve.
- You can actually make the batter ahead and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to fry, take the bowl out and let it come to room temperature. This might take from 30 minutes to 1 hour. You can also make the sugar syrup ahead of time, let it cool down as it needs to be room temperature as well.
- If you can't get rounded loukoumades balls you can add about 3 Tablespoons of oil to the batter, this should take care of this problem.
Ways to serve Loukoumades
- Traditional and most common way is doused in simple sugar syrup. Syrup can be cinnamon, cardamom, orange blossom, rose water or vanilla flavored. Honey is also common.
- Roll fried dough balls into cinnamon sugar.
- Dust with powdered sugar, not my favorite but very common.
- Chocolate covered. This has been very popular recently in Egypt. Make your own chocolate syrup or just use Nutella.
- I've seen people serve this as a savory dish too with some cheese sauce on the side. I haven't tried this yet though.
Other fried sweet dough to try
You may need
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This mini ice cream scoop is the perfect size for luqaimat and cookie balls as well plus it is sturdy as it is all metal. In this post I've used one with some plastic parts, I should have known better of course it broke after a couple of uses. Now I am using the metal one for my recipes.
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Everybody's favorite sweet dough balls, made at home! Shatteringly crisp and golden from outside, just like they should be, and pillowy from inside!
Loukoumades ( Lokma or Zalabya)
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour.
- 1/2 Tablespoon sugar.
- 1/2 Tablespoon dry yeast.
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch.
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt.
For the syrup:
- 2 cups sugar.
- 1 1/4 cup water.
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
- 1/4 cup honey.
Flavors for the syrup: Use any of the following
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Or cinnamon stick, 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water or rose water.
For the chocolate syrup
- 4 oz semi sweet chocolate.
- 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup.
- 2 Tablespoons sugar.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar.
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon.
- Nuts for garnishing:
- Roughly chopped pistachios or hazelnuts.
- Oil for frying.
Start the dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, sugar, yeast and mix for 30 seconds to combine.
- Add water until a hard dough forms, if you find it too hard and does not come together add another tablespoon of water and mix.
- Cover and let it set for 30 minutes.
Make the syrup:
- Combine syrup ingredients with the flavor of your choice in a medium sauce pan, stir to combine ingredients well.
- Bring to a boil on medium-high heat then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool down completely.
Make the chocolate syrup:
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup add chocolate and corn syrup.
- In a small sauce pan , stir together sugar and heavy cream until sugar dissolve, heat until just about bubbling at the edges,
- Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and corn syrup and mix with a spatula until well combined.
- Set aside
Finish the dough:
- After the 30 minutes, add yogurt to the mixture and knead with the flat beater for almost 5 minutes or until dough comes together.
- Cover and let it rise for 1 hour at least or place in your fridge for up to 24 hours.
Fry dough balls
- Heat oil for frying on medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium and start frying the dough.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, dipped in oil form small balls and drop into the oil to fry.*
- Oil the ice cream scoop every now and then to ensure that the dough will glide easily from the scoop.
- After the pan is full with dough balls, raise the heat up again to medium-hight.
- Fry the balls until they are golden brown.**
- Immediately take the dumplings out and dunk them in the simple syrup, stir to coat.
- Get the dumplings out of the syrup after 5 minutes and place in a colander to drip excess syrup.
- You can roll the balls in cinnamon sugar or make the chocolate syrup and pour it over. You can also dust the dumplings with powdered sugar.
- Serve immediately as it is better when fresh.
** The more you fry your dumplings, the crispier it gets. So try for the first couple of balls until you find the color that satisfies you. Make ahead tip: You can actually make the batter ahead and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to fry, take the bowl out and let it come to room temperature. This might take from 30 minutes to 1 hour. You can also make the sugar syrup ahead of time, let it cool down as it needs to be room temperature as well. Nutrition facts are calculated for the dough only without the topping. Please check the nutrition disclaimer policy. Vitamins are in percentage value. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Adapted from Chef Manal's recipe.