Fried Rings of Dough

Beginning this week: Professor Elliot’s Bookshelf, the podcast. Each article will be accompanied with an audio version. Enjoy!

One of my favorite treats as a kid in Morocco, was sfenj; a fried donut either topped with powdered sugar or soaked in honey. Although it has been a long time since then, going on donut runs always comforts me, and I’m not alone. Many cultures around the globe have their own fried, round pastries.

Photo of sfenj from the YouTube channel "sousoukitchen".
Photo of sfenj from the YouTube channel “sousoukitchen“.

The Hawaiian Islands have many specialty shops selling malasada. These are egg-sized, fried yeast-dough balls, coated in sugar. It originated with the arrival of Portuguese laborers in 1878. Being Catholic, the Portuguese had to use all of their remaining butter and sugar before Lent. Huge amounts of this sweet were sold on Mardi Gras each year leading to the nickname “Malasada Day”! Today, Hawaiians have even added fillings like chocolate and guava.

A variety of malasadas Photo by _e.t
A variety of malasadas
Photo by _e.t

Sel Roti are fried rice-flour-dough rings from Nepal, that look like extra large onion rings. These sweet rings are sold most often during Tihar, a five-day festival of lights honoring all life. Though Tihar is not the only holiday sel roti are served. It is a delicacy used in many celebrations including weddings. This food has become a symbol, in many eyes, of the Nepalese culture.

No matter where you find yourself, it seems fried dough-rings will be just around the corner. And that’s a good thing in my mind.

Music: 
España, rhapsody for orchestra by Emmanuel Chabrier
Performed by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony

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