Tag Archives: Zalebieh

Awwamat Or Crisp Doughnut Balls

6 Jan

Today is the Epiphany. For the Eastern Christians, it is the holiday where we celebrate the baptisim of Jesus in the Jordan river. Our tradition involves, on the Epiphany Eve,  in addition to the preparation of different desserts, to knead a small piece of dough, place one or two coins in the middle, fold the edges onto the coin and leave it either in the closet, or outside the balcony, so that when Jesus “passes by” on that night, he blesses the dough to more prosperous time.

I await this time of year impatiently, why, because I love the desserts we make. At home, we prepare zalebieh, maacroun, and awwamat, in arabic it means floaters, because they float when fried and when soaked in the sugar syrup. It’s a fried small doughs, ball- shaped, made with few ingredients, flour, water, yeast and mahlab; then dipped in Qater while still hot so they absorb the syrup well. I love their sweet softness. So delicious, that the whole batch was over in just one day.

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Zalebieh Or Lebanese Doughnuts

8 Nov

To celebrate the ending of the olive harvest, the housewives prepare a sweet  dough, Zalebieh, that is fried in the new olive oil. This is the tradition at my village. It is the Lebanese way of preparing doughnuts.

Even though, there is still few days to finish the olive pressing, my mom wanted to prepare the sweets during the past weekend since we were there.

I love the Zalebieh alot, I love its texture, its flavor. We use different kinds of spices. Nutmeg, anise, mahlab. The dough is kneaded few times and is left wrapped with warm clothes for few hours to rise.

This time, we fried the doughs in olive oil, the new pressed one, two weeks aged. I felt something spicy when I took the first bite, an unusual taste, not related to the spices we used which weren’t that spicy. This sharp strong taste goes to the taste of olive oil. I remembered that feeling when I first tasted the olive oil, plain, I felt something sharp, hot at the back of my mouth. It was a tasty great flavor.

Soft & chewy from the inside and crunchy from the outside

I would like to share with you this “delicious” picture since the main topic is “new olive oil”. This bread is baked on the saj, it is used for the man’oushe, a very delicious breakfast dough topped with zaatar mixture. So I dipped this fresh warm plain bread in the olive oil, and you won’t believe how delicious it is. Extremely delicious.

  

Before I end this post, I would like to say that I added in the previous post, Olive Harvest,  two pictures that I couldn’t shoot last weekend because it rained and it was impossible to go olive harvesting. So I went the past weekend to the field, and I helped the guys a little and took these two pictures.

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Olive Harvest

1 Nov

It is the olive season. Harvesting season. Last weekend we went to the village and we visited one of the old olives presses places. From the moment I entered the place, the smell of the olives threw me in a state of reminiscence as I remembered my childhood when I first smelled it. And it is going to be hard for me to explain about the smell, a place redolent of olive scent. It is a great, amazing, strong smell, one of a kind, one of the best fragrances. It has the smell of the ground, the nature, the trees.

And what’s perfect than bringing home the finest olive oil and the most delicious olives to enjoy with pita bread and labné, or with zaatar ( a mix of dried thyme, sumac, toasted sesame and olive oil), we call it “tartine zaatar”. There is also this tradition to fry some sweet dough, called Zalebieh, in the first new crop of olive oil.

Our village is surrounded by olive trees

Olive season is one of the most important season for the villagers because all the crop is preserved for a couple of years, some of it is sold as olives and as olive oil. Almost every family in my village has its own crop, its own trees. There are two ways of harvesting the olives, either by picking the olives by hand, the nice big ones, these would be preserved for eating, or “hitting” the olive tree with a stick and the olives will fall on a cloth placed under the tree.

These are collected, brought to olives presses and pressed and olive oil is extracted. Usually the black olives are pressed unless the grains were flawless, nice and big.

Black olives from our crop

Olives are preserved in jars with water and salt. We also add some lemon rinds, others add some fresh thymes.

Green olives from our harvest

The process of pressing olives is simple and nice. They start by splitting the olives from the leaves .. 

splitting the olives from the leaves

Then the olives are being washed in water

olives being rinsed...

… then sent to be ground and the paste is spread on a fabric made of goat’s hair… and then pressed and olive oil is extracted..

..the olive paste is being spread on layers...

... being pressed..

..then after being pressed, the oil is separated from the water and pulp and is poured into the jars or bottles…

The olive oil is still turbid and dense, it needs quite some time to be clearer

After being pressed and oil is extracted, the olives residue is not thrown away but it is used during winter to set aflame in the fireplace, along with woods.

I have tasted some of our olive oil and it tastes great, it is sharp, dense, and new. In the past, villagers used to eat and enjoy some drizzled fresh olive oil on a hot fresh loaf of saj bread baked by ladies in the village on the same day of olives presses. Fresh olive oil, fresh bread… How wonderful!!!

Fresh and new olive oil from our trees, our crop. I find it exquisite.

The dessert below has nothing to do with olives harvesting, but I mentioned it because it is one of the different kind of sweets that villagers bring along to the olives harvest to give them strength so they can continue their day. And because I ate alot of it during the weekend, either with biscuits or plain. This sweet is called “Raha” it’s chewy, coated with powdered sugar has different flavors and it is yummii, so delicious.

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