Luqaimat | Arabic Doughnuts with Orange Blossom Syrup

luqaimat

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.

luqaimat

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.

luqaimat

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.

luqaimat

Luqaimat | Arabic Doughnuts with Orange Blossom Syrup

Serves: 36-40

golden brown Middle Eastern doughnuts drizzled with orange blossom sugar syrup
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Add the hand hot water and mix.
  3. Add the warm milk and the egg.
  4. The batter will be a sticky but slightly thin.
  5. Put aside to rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes.
  6. Heat oil in a wok or fryer to deep fry the doughnuts.
  7. Check the dough.
  8. It will be very sticky and thicker now.
  9. Add a little water if the dough is too hard to manage.
  10. You want to be able to drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil.
  11. You can use two greased teaspoons or spoons dipped in some water
  12. to help with releasing the dough.
  13. I used a small cookie scoop and it was easy to get the dough off when you wet the scoop slightly.
  14. Drop spoonfuls into the hot oil and agitate the dough balls with a spoon to get even colouring.
  15. Make sure the oil is hot otherwise the dough won't ball up but stay flat.
  16. However, too hot an oil will brown the outside too quickly and not cook the inside.
  17. Adjust the temperature as you are frying.
  18. Once the balls are golden brown, drain them on a paper towel.
  19. Drizzle with sugar syrup to serve or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  20. They are best eaten warm but quite acceptable room temperature too.
Notes
Other flavourings can be added to these if desired. Cinnamon and vanilla are popular as is a honey syrup. For a honey syrup warm up equal amounts of honey and water and drizzle over the warm doughnut balls. The Greek loukoumades and the Lebanese awamat tend to be firmer and crisper than these ones. I like them both but usually make the softer ones I've posted here. You can omit the egg if you want a firmer doughnut.

luqaimat

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?

Hope you are all having a great week! My dinner Monday night was a success and everyone enjoyed the Butter Chicken and the Peach Cobbler. Phew!

  1. Pingback: Harees | Savoury Wheat Porridge » Coffee and Crumpets

  2. Oh what lovely memories you have of your friends, Nazneen! They seemed like such wonderful and generous neighbors! But I especially enjoyed reading that you loved their food even more than their gifts! I have yet to make or taste these little doughnuts. But I have a bottle of rose water and orange blossom water that I had to buy even though I didn’t know what I would use them for! These sound perfectly light and delightful! And your pictures are truly inviting! : )
    Anne@FromMySweetHeart recently posted..Shallot, Herb and Garlic Cheese MuffinsMy Profile

  3. Aaah, “loukoumades”… I thought these looked familiar! My Cypriot colleague was asking (well, more like “ordering”) me to make him some recently and I spent quite some minutes staring into the screen – what a coincidence to see them here again… ok, now I have no excuse not to make them I think, right?! πŸ˜€

    It’s wonderful to have good neighbours isn’t it? The importance is lessened if you live far away from anyone, but when you all have to share an apartment building good relations are absolutely critical, and can well lead to life-long friendships. I have a neighbour who I get on with very well… she brings me fruit and veg from her allotment in the summer, and I regularly take her cake which I make πŸ™‚
    Charles recently posted..A little plugin for y’allMy Profile

  4. What a lovely story Nazneen!!! I can still catch the excitement in your tone πŸ™‚ The donuts look so golden and tempting. I have never used Orange blosom syrup……I have been thinking of using it in a dessert. This looks like a good place to start.
    Minnie@thelady8home recently posted..KhichudiMy Profile

    • Thanks Minnie! I love orange blossom water. I am not a fan of rose water so I sub everything with orange blossom!

  5. That’s a lovely story from your childhood, Nazneen. And your doughnuts with the orange blossom syrup sound and look incredible. They’re not something I’ve tried before. I can imagine you must have anticipated the food with great delight – it certainly sounds wonderful to me xx
    Hotly Spiced recently posted..Cactus SkincareMy Profile

    • Thanks Charlie! Yes, I would wait for the knock on the door πŸ™‚ it was always something very yummy.

  6. I just knew it ! You were a foodie from a very early age. Sometimes you can just tell these kind of things. I am glad you paid such good attention to all of your mentors in the kitchen so we can enjoy all your beautiful treats. Can you believe it, I have never made donuts as it always seemed like so much work but these little mini donuts with the orange blossom water sounds heavenly. I hope the part of dropping them from the spoon is not too difficult as I do not have a cookie scooper. Have a super weekend and take care, BAM
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted..Mediterranean Red Snapper PacketsMy Profile

    • Haha! I was actually! I knew good food back then and remember clearly the best meals I had at restaurants or friends homes.

    • They are similar to beignets actually, but the orange blossom syrup takes them to the ME level. I do love Cafe Du Monde’s beignets in NOLA.

  7. Loved your little story around your ‘sticky balls’. I think I am on a sugar high just looking at your blog lately. These are just my kind of sweet treats because I have grown up eating such things. Most of our traditional sweets are deep fried and soaked in syrup and I just can’t wait to have them again during my visit to India. Your recipes and pictures are like a ‘test run’ for me at the moment..I am craving more. Love it!
    Sugar et al recently posted..Raspberry Poached Pears With Chocolate SauceMy Profile

    • I tend to like syrupy foods too and probably because we did grow up eating them. I didn’t get that much in London but we had a really good mithai place in London and as far as desi sweets went, they were excellent. I hope you get your fill in India!

  8. What an incredible set of neighbours! I lived in Far North Queensland when I was younger, and lived 2 doors down from my best friend who was Japanese, and whose dad was a Japanese Chef. We always ate beautiful food at their house, and I’ve always loved Japanese food πŸ™‚

    Those doughnuts look incredible. I’ve never tried to make doughnuts – the frying part scares me. But I love love love orange blossom water.

    • Great neighbours are the best thing. And I think you would be just fine frying these. It’s not hard at all.

    • My mom was a super mom. She was great in the kitchen and I miss her. These doughnuts are wonderful though, very addictive.

  9. What an interesting story! And how nice of your mom to make that meal – that is being a true neighbor. Love these doughnuts – anything fried tastes do good, doesn’t it? But these look superb – thanks so much.
    john@kitchenriffs recently posted..The Cuba Libre CocktailMy Profile

    • I love fried food John, it’s my weakness. Great thing is I hate frying so I rarely make anything fried. Thanks for the comment!

    • My mom was a fantastic and fast cook. She cooked thin air into something delicious. I miss her cooking and the time I could’ve had with her now. Thanks for the comment!!