Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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The lover dissolves into the Beloved like milk in zalubiyyah.
Fritters in Syrup
This is universal festival food, a tasty idea from centuries past that has circulated around the world. It is often shared by pilgrims at Mina, the final stage of the hajj. A recipe for it appeared in Al-Baghdadi's 1223 cookbook. It is very much like the perennial County Fair attractions, fried dough and funnel cakes. At the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, a Syrian vendor rescued his ice cream selling neighbor, fresh out of dishes, by rolling up a zalubbiyah and topping it with a scoop of ice cream to create the world's first ice cream cone. Rosewater gives zalubbiyah a Near Eastern taste, orange flower water a more North African one. In India, the fritters are known as jalebi.
Total time: 3 hours
Batter & syrup preparation: 30 minutes
Resting & cooling: 2 hours
Frying time: 30 minutes
1-¾cups water, approximately
2 tsp. yeast
½ cup yogurt
2-¼ cups flour
Oil for frying
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1-¾cups water
2 tbsp. rose or orange flower water

Measure the water into a mixing bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and let it rest until bubbly. Add the yogurt, stir until dissolved, then add the flour and stir vigorously until thick and smooth. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for at least 2 hours, stirring it down every half hour.

While the batter rests, prepare the syrup. Put the sugar, lemon juice and water into a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the syrup coats a cold metal spoon. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the rosewater or orange flower water, and allow the syrup to cool.

Heat 2" of oil in a heavy saucepan. Using a wet spoon, pastry bag or narrow funnel (¼ diameter tip), drizzle the batter into the oil in round dollops, spirals or figure eights. Do not crowd the pan. Fry gently for about a minute, turning them several times, until they are crisp and golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove the darkest zalubiyyah from the oil and drop it into the cold syrup; remove another and drop it into the syrup; remove the first one from the syrup and put it onto a baking sheet. Continue alternately transferring them from pan to syrup, from syrup to baking sheet, until the first batch is done; then begin the next batch until the batter is all gone.

Dust the zalubiyyah with confectioner's sugar. With sugar-dusted fingers, arrange them on platter and serve.