Delight in devotion and become a river of honey.
These intensely sweet cookies are a Ramadan specialty served at iftar with harira. They are usually made in enormous batches, to have on hand for family and guests. This scaled-down recipe makes about three dozen. Cooking them is a two-person job one for frying, one for honey-dipping.
Total time: 2-½+ hours
Cooking time: 1-½ hours
Cooling time: 2+ hours
1-½ cups (3 sticks) butter
¼ tsp. saffron
1 tsp. yeast
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. orange flower water
½ tsp mastic, pounded to a powder (optional)
5 cups all-purpose flour
Oil for frying
5 cups honey
½ cup sesame seeds
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, sprinkle in the saffron, and set aside. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over ¼ cup of warm water and set aside. In another bowl, combine the eggs, salt, baking powder, orange flower water and vanilla. Beat well, then add the vinegar and butter, and, last of all, the yeast mixture.
Pour the flour into yet another bowl, then add the liquid ingredients and stir vigorously until you have a stiff dough. Add water if needed to achieve a workable consistency. Turn the dough out onto a smooth surface and knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough, roll them thin and cut them into rosettes with a cookie cutter. Set them aside on a lightly buttered cookie sheet until you are done forming the batch.
Pour the honey into a heavy, steep-sided pot, and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to low while you fry the cookies.
Pour vegetable oil into another heavy, steep-sided pot, to a depth of 1-½". Once it is hot, turn up the heat under the honey and bring it to a boil again. Slip several of the cookies into the oil, giving enough room for them to move around without touching. Fry and turn the cookies until both sides are medium brown; then remove them with a slotted spoon and drop them directly into the boiling honey. Let them remain in the honey until it returns to a boil, then remove them with a slotted spoon to another lightly buttered cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and set aside for at least two hours to cool before serving.
from Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook