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Shared by Nir Mesika

Zalabia (Doughnuts With Orange Blossom Syrup)

Yield: about 2 dozen doughnutsTime: 1h 30min

Zalabia (Doughnuts With Orange Blossom Syrup)

Yield: about 2 dozen doughnutsTime: 1h 30min

Family Journey

Alexandria, EgyptKiryat Ha'im, IsraelNew York City
Tel Aviv

This recipe was shared by Nir Mesika. Read more about his family in "An Egyptian Hanukkah Tradition Lives on in NYC." 

Plus, find more Hanukkah recipes in our holiday collection.


For the doughnuts:

  • 1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast 
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 2 ¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for deep-frying
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the syrup:

  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
DessertsHanukkah VegetarianVeganPareveNorth Africa


  • Step 1

    Make the dough: In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water.

  • Step 2

    Sift the flour into a large bowl and whisk in the sugar. Add the yeast mixture and whisk to combine (the dough will be on the wet side). Whisk or stir in the oil and salt.

  • Step 3

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles have started forming on the top, about 1 hour.

  • Step 4

    Meanwhile, make the syrup: Combine the honey, orange blossom water, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium bowl and stir to blend. Set aside.

  • Step 5

    For the zalabia: Set the bowl of syrup near the stove, along with a plate or platter for the finished zalabia. Fill a medium, tall pot (tall enough that the oil won't overflow when you add the zalabia) with 3-4 inches canola oil. Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 365°F; the oil is hot enough when a few small pieces of dough sizzle and brown quickly when added to it.

  • Step 6

    Using two tablespoons, scoop up a heaping spoonful of dough with one spoon and gently lower it into the hot oil, using the other spoon to scrape the dough into the oil. The dough should pull up instantly. Add one or two more portions of dough to the pot, but don't crowd it, or the oil temperature will drop too much and your zalabia will be greasy. 

  • Step 7

    Fry the doughnuts, flipping occasionally, until puffed, crisp, and golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Make sure to monitor the heat, turning it down if necessary so that the outsides of the zalabia don't cook too quickly, leaving the inside undercooked. Remove the doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon, letting the excess oil drip back into the pot, and place in the bowl of syrup. Toss to coat and then transfer to the serving plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.

  • Step 8

    Drizzle the zalabia with more syrup, if you like, and serve immediately.