Zoolbia

Makes about 15

These crunchy fritters with spiced sugar are little whisps of air and tend to be served at the end of the meal. Sweet and crisp, they are best served alongside a sharp pomegranate or blood-orange granita. Or try them with the muddy rich coffee that is served throughout the Middle East.

For the spiced sugar

120g/4oz icing sugar
50g/2oz ground pistachios
tsp ground cardamom
Vegetable oil for frying

For the batter

175g/6oz plain flour
1 tbsp dried yeast
250ml/8fl oz warm water
75g/3oz thick natural yoghurt
2 tbsp saffron liquid (20 strands of saffron, lightly toasted, ground with pestle and mortar then infused with 2 tbsp boiling water for at least 1 hour)
A pinch of sea salt



Combine the icing sugar, pistachios and cardamom well and store in an airtight jar until ready to use.

To make the batter, sift the flour into a bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast, then whisk in the warm water and yoghurt to form a batter. Stir in the saffron liquid and salt, then cover and leave to stand for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

Pour the vegetable oil into a small, deep, heavy-based saucepan to a depth of 5cm. Heat the oil to 190C/375F. If you don't have a sugar thermometer, the oil will have reached temperature when it is shimmering, and when a blob of batter sizzles up to the surface in a few seconds.

Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a narrow nozzle, or into a plastic squeezy bottle. Pipe the batter into the oil, working from the centre outwards in a spiral. Use the size of the saucepan as the template for your fritter size. Don't worry if you do not make a perfect spiral, as a free-form, lacy effect is just as pretty. Cook for 1-2 minutes, moving the fritter in the hot oil so it colours evenly.

Once the fritter has set, turn it over in the oil to colour. Lift the fritter out of the oil with a slatted spoon and drain on paper towels for a moment. Repeat with the remaining batter. Dust the spiced sugar over the fritters and enjoy with a cup of strong coffee or tea.

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