Zalabiya -- Yemenite Chanuka Doughnuts

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“I was chewing the fat (literally, it's Chanuka-time now and we eat a lot of fried foods on this holiday) with one of the bank managers at work, and she gave me this recipe for the doughnuts traditionally eaten on Chanuka in Yemen (or by Yemenites all over the world). I tried them out last night, and they are really good. If you are expecting an airy, light pastry, forget it! These are hearty, good for breakfast, wonderfully chewy doughnuts. Prep time includes dough rising time.”
32 doughnuts

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Mix all the ingredients except for the water together.
  2. If you have to proof the yeast first (I don't) then proof it in a little warm water with some of the sugar.
  3. If using an electric mixer with a dough hook, start kneading the dough while slowly adding warm water, a little at a time, until you get a pliable, but slightly sticky dough.
  4. You don't want the dough to be stiff enough to pick up and throw at someone (don't laugh, it's been done before), but at the same time, you don't want the dough to be so gloopy you have to dish it out with a spoon.
  5. You want this to have a little substance, but still still to the bowl a bit, and to your hands.
  6. If you are working by hand, just read the above directions, but forget about the dough hook.
  7. First use a good, heavy wooden spoon, then start working and kneading with your hands.
  8. Let the dough rise until doubled.
  9. If you don't have enough patience for this, a good zap in the microwave for 30 seconds on high every 15 minutes or so should give that dough a good burst of energy.
  10. When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down (feels good, doesn't it), wipe the sticky dough off your hands, and let it rise until doubled again.
  11. Punch it down again.
  12. Pour about two inches of oil in a pot that's suitable for deep frying.
  13. I used a smallish pot and fried the zalabia two at a time.
  14. Pinch off a ping-pong ball-sized piece of dough.
  15. Shape it into a ball and then with your fingers, poke a hole and shape the dough into a doughnut.
  16. Fry in the hot oil, first on one side, then on the other, until golden brown.
  17. Be careful, they brown quickly.
  18. Drain on absorbent paper towels, and dredge with powdered sugar.

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