The thud of the massive front door, the sound of muffled voices and shuffling of a few dozen feet almost always indicated something exciting was happening outside our flat door. Our group of flats was always fairly quiet. We were the only children in the group of ten apartments and after my father had successfully got rid of the surly lady who lived in the flat below us, by effectively offering her a very attractive price for her home, my little brothers could run rampant down our hallway without a batty old lady beating her broomstick on the ceiling.
So, when the sounds of life could be heard quite prominently, and the dings of the lift going up and down, and vibrant conversations in a foreign language, I would peek through the peep hole. My favourite discovery was always the arrival of our upstairs neighbors from Kuwait every summer.
Why did a teen get excited about neighbours from Kuwait? Well, because neighbours from Kuwait meant great Gulf food was sent down to us regularly and that was worth getting excited about! I knew good food at a very early age.
The family who lived upstairs from us, resided in Kuwait during most of the year, but when the temperatures soared in Kuwait, they made their way to London, to relax, shop and cool off. They were quite a prominent family in Kuwait with the sons working for consulates and such. I remember one of their sons was the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Pakistan and on one occasion my father was in Pakistan for some business. Since he knew the family, he contacted the Embassy to send his greetings. He was invited to lunch by the Ambassador who sent him a diplomatic limo to be picked up. My father relished telling us the story of how the car pulled up into our neighbourhood with diplomatic flags a flying!
So, when this family came to vacation in London, they all came. In fact, they owned both the flats on the second floor (these were big apartments) to accommodate their very big family and the nannies and cooks who came with them.
The minute we would hear the creaking of the upstairs flat and the activity of arrival, my mother would scurry into the kitchen. After, what seems like barely an hour, she would reveal a multi course meal for 20, with the perfection and speed of a Star Trek replicator. This she would send upstairs to the travellers. And thus, our friendship started and remained even after we moved to the US. Over the years we were saddened to hear that the family matriarch, had passed away and they were in turn saddened to hear about the loss of my mother. Both were incredible women.
Apart from the very cool and gaudy costume jewellery they would bring us girls, they bought my mother all sorts of interesting bits and pieces and beautiful Arabic tea sets. I have them all with me now and simply adore every cup.
The gifts were generous and quite the hit but the food that they sent down to us during their stay, that was the real hi light. Soft, golden pumpkin in a tomato sauce, tender lamb ground with wheat berries to make the best gruel I’ve ever tasted, salads, chicken, meat, and these sticky balls. At least, that’s what I called them back then and never knew what they were until I started cooking myself.
Luqaimat, awamat, loukoumades and a few other names, are how these delicious doughnuts are known. Many countries have a form of these yeasted little balls of goodness, differing only slightly in their texture and whether they use a syrup drizzle, honey drizzle or a sprinkling of cinnamon powdered sugar.
Whatever you call them, and however you prefer them; soft and pillowy or firm and chewy, they are insanely addictive.
I like to make mine soft and pillowy with orange blossom syrup or with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. They are delicious either way.
- 3 cups/430g organic all purpose/plain flour
- 2 teaspoon yeast (1 package)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar
- 1 cup/236mL warm water
- ½ cup/118mL warm organic milk
- 1 organic egg, beaten.
- oil to fry (sunflower, peanut, avocado, coconut)
- Orange Blossom Sugar Syrup to serve
- Powdered sugar to serve
- If you know your yeast is fresh and it's an active dry yeast, you can add the flour, yeast, salt and sugar altogether in a mixer bowl and mix with a paddle attachment.
- Add the hand hot water and mix.
- Add the warm milk and the egg.
- The batter will be a sticky but slightly thin.
- Put aside to rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes.
- Heat oil in a wok or fryer to deep fry the doughnuts.
- Check the dough.
- It will be very sticky and thicker now.
- Add a little water if the dough is too hard to manage.
- You want to be able to drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil.
- You can use two greased teaspoons or spoons dipped in some water
- to help with releasing the dough.
- I used a small cookie scoop and it was easy to get the dough off when you wet the scoop slightly.
- Drop spoonfuls into the hot oil and agitate the dough balls with a spoon to get even colouring.
- Make sure the oil is hot otherwise the dough won't ball up but stay flat.
- However, too hot an oil will brown the outside too quickly and not cook the inside.
- Adjust the temperature as you are frying.
- Once the balls are golden brown, drain them on a paper towel.
- Drizzle with sugar syrup to serve or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- They are best eaten warm but quite acceptable room temperature too.
This is a quick fix for something sweet when the craving hits. The ingredients are pantry staples so a quick dessert is not too far off. Have you tried these addictive doughnuts? And what were they called when you tried them?