Luqaimat is one of the most popular Arabic dishes, and for a good reason! It’s beautiful, yeasted doughnuts that are fried to a crunchy texture and golden-brown color.
These sweet dumplings can be eaten as a snack or dessert, and they’re especially popular during the holy month of Ramadan.
This is an authentic recipe of Luqaimat, featuring flavors from the Middle East, and it requires minimal ingredients to give you one of the tastiest desserts you’ve ever had!
What is Luqaimat?
Luqaimat is a kind of Arabic sweet dumpling that could be described as doughnuts made with yeast and fried to a beautiful golden brown color, then dipped in date syrup, rolled in honey, or dusted with sugar.
The word Luqaimat (لقيمات in Arabic) literally means ‘little bites’. They’re also known as Luqmat al Kadhi, which literally means ‘judge’s bites’ in Jordan, though the recipe differs from how Arabs in Gulf Countries make them.
They’re an incredibly popular and famous dish that’s commonly served during the holy month of Ramadan all across the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the Gulf countries. It is, by far, one of the most popular desserts eaten during Ramadan.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims where they fast from dawn to sunset and reflect the whole month. It’s a month of gratitude, appreciation, and a sense of community.
With that, of course, comes food! That’s where Luqaimat shines!
If you were to peek inside an Arabic household, you’d notice women preparing Luqaimat during this beautiful month of Ramadan.
When to Have it?
The best time to have them is when they’re fresh so you can truly enjoy how crispy they are on the outside, and how soft and airy they are on the inside. That’s when you learn how beautiful Luqaimat’s crunch texture is.
The smaller you make these sweet dumplings, the tastier they are! But you don’t need to make them too tiny. Aim for Luqaimat that’s 2 inches high and 2 inches wide for the perfect size!
Luqaimat itself is not very sweet at all, and that’s why honey, regular simple syrup, or date syrup is poured over the dumplings to sweeten them. But you can even go for maple syrup if you want!
But for this reason, you can definitely customize the sweetness according to your own preferences. This is truly a versatile and delicious dessert that can also be eaten as a snack!
Some recipes for Luqaimat call for yogurt, and others include baking powder and milk. The Luqaimat eaten in Gulf countries primarily uses flour, yeast, saffron, and cardamom. This is the version I’ll be sharing with you today.
It’s important to fry these delicious, sweet dumplings the right way. If the oil is too hot, they'll only cook from the outside. If the oil is not hot enough the dumplings will absorb all the oil, and you won't enjoy them as much.
Sounds a little tricky? don’t worry I’ve got you covered! Follow my recipe to a T, you’ll get the most delicious and perfect Luqaimat you’ve ever had!
Where Did Luqaimat Originate From?
Luqaimat is said to have originated in Ancient Greece, where it was given as ‘honey tokens’ to winners in the Olympic games.
It was then adapted to the Luqaimat recipe we know today and was called Luqmat al-Qadi, meaning ‘judge’s bites’ or ‘judge’s morsels’.
This recipe version of Luqaimat can be traced back to the 13th Century during the Abbasid Caliphate where it was mentioned is many cookbooks of the time.
Luqaimat was also mentioned in the popular folk tales One Thousand and One Nights, and in the story The Porter and The Three Ladies of Baghdad.
Interestingly, the famous explorer and scholar Ibn Battuta also came across this dish in the 14th century in Multan (present-day Pakistan), where the hosts referred to it as al-Hashimi.
These delicious dumplings were also cooked by palace cooks in the Ottoman Empire for centuries. This influence mainly came from the countries and regions the Ottomans ruled including the Balkans, Middle East, and the Caucasus.
What Else It's Called?
There are many other words these incredible sweet dumplings are referred to as in different countries apart from Luqaimat and Luqmat al-Qadi.
In parts of the Middle East, including Lebanon, it’s called Awameh or Awamat which literally means ‘floaters’ or ‘swimmer’, and also Zalabya.
While in Turkey, it's called Lokma where it is commonly spiced with cinnamon in a honey syrup and then sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar, or sometimes eaten with cheese.
You will find that in Greece and Cyprus, the recipe slightly differs, and it is known as Loukoumades. Greek Jews also have it as treats during Hanukkah and call it Zvingoi (σβίγγοι).
Regardless of what it is called, it’s always the same, incredibly delicious yeasted, round sweet dumplings that are an absolute delight to have!
Secret Ingredient to Make It Perfectly Crunchy
Who doesn’t want the most crunchy and delicious Luqaimat? I know I do! And for that, I give you a secret trick that is guaranteed to give you the most perfectly crisp Luqaimat every single time.
Want to know what it is? Including mashed potato in the batter! Yes, you read that right!
We’ll only add 5 tablespoons of it, so don’t worry your Luqaimat won’t taste incredibly ‘potato-y’ at all. But what will happen is that the mashed potato will help give it an extra crunchy texture that’s completely unbeatable!
Trust me, you won’t get this same level of crunch from any other recipe. Try this to truly know what I mean!
What You Need to Make Luqaimat at Home
Making Luqaimat at home is easy, and you only need simple and minimal ingredients to make the best ones you’ve ever had! Here’s what you need to make them:
All-purpose flour: All you need is simple, plain ol’ all-purpose flour to make these delicious sweet dumplings at home.
Yeast: We’ll be using active dry yeast for this recipe and it will be used to leaven Luqaimat properly.
Sugar: Sugar is not added to sweeten Luqaimat as much as it’s added to activate the yeast. That’s why you’ll notice that we’re only added 1 ½ teaspoon of sugar for this whole recipe. This is because Luqaimat is usually sweetened with honey, date syrup, or a simple syrup which is poured on top.
Salt: We need just a pinch of salt to balance out all the flavors.
Potato: Like I mentioned above, we’ll be using 5 tablespoon of mashed potatoes in this recipe which is the secret ingredient to give your Luqaimat the perfect crunchy texture!
Cardamom powder: Cardamom adds a beautifully herbal warmth and fragrance to the Luqaimat and really brings out all the flavors.
Saffron: Saffron adds a sweet, floral taste to the Luqaimat and takes it to a whole new level!
Water: We’ll be needing some lukewarm water to mix with the saffron and cardamom, and also some to activate the yeast with sugar.
Oil: We need oil for frying these delicious sweet dumplings to a perfect crisp. You can go for any flavorless, vegetable oil, I used sunflower oil.
How to Make Luqaimat Step by Step
If you follow my recipe, Luqaimat is incredibly easy to make. Here’s what you need to do to make them step by step:
To start, add ¼ cup of warm water to saffron and cardamom. Stir it all well and set it aside.
Next, in a large bowl sift flour with salt and keep it aside as well.
Now, in ¾ cup of warm water, add sugar and yeast. Keep it aside for 5 minutes so that the yeast can properly activate.
To the saffron and cardamom mixture, add the mashed potato and mix it all well together.
Add the previous mixture to the flour and mix with your hand or use a whisk. Gradually pour the yeast mixture into this bowl, and keep on stirring until the Luqaimat dough looks like cake batter.
Resting The Dough
Leave the dough batter to double in size. It may take 40 minutes to an hour depending on how hot or cold is your kitchen. After resting, the dough should have bubbles, and be somewhat bouncy.
Now whisk the dough batter for a few seconds.
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat some vegetable oil for frying the Luqaimat. Take around a teaspoon from the dough batter, and carefully drop it in the oil.
If you notice that it floats quickly, the oil is too hot. If that happens, the Luqaimat will only cook from the outside and not properly from the inside.
Next, scoop the batter with your fingers by taking around ½ tablespoon from the batter. Use your thumb to push the batter off your fingers and into the oil. Alternatively, you can dip a spoon in cold oil then take ½ tablespoon from the batter and pour it into the hot oil.
After 1 minute of frying, move the dumplings around using a wooden spoon or spatula, this will make them cook evenly.
When the dumplings are light brown, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon, and place them on some paper towel.
Pour your favorite syrup on top. The syrup should be at room temperature.
Your Luqaimat is ready to be served! should serve these dumplings the same day you make them.
Tips for Making the Best Luqaimat Ever
- The smaller you make these sweet dumplings, the tastier they are. But you don’t need to make them too tiny. Aim for Luqaimat that’s 2 inches high and 2 inches wide for the perfect size.
- It’s important to fry these delicious, sweet dumplings the right way. If the oil is too hot, they'll only cook from the outside. But if it's not hot enough the dumplings will absorb all the oil, and you won't enjoy them as much.
- When you start frying the Luqaimat, if you notice that it floats quickly, the oil is too hot.
- Serve your Luqaimat fresh to be able to enjoy the crunchy texture and true flavor of these incredible sweet dumplings.
- You can serve Luqaimat by drizzling on some date syrup, honey, or simple syrup.
Perfectly Crunchy Luqaimat
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons mashed potato the secret of a lasting crunch
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- 1 ¼ cup warm water
- Oil for deep frying I used sunflower
- Add ¼ cup warm water to saffron and cardamom, mix and keep aside.
- Sift flour with salt and keep aside.
- In ¾ cup warm water, add sugar and yeast. Keep aside for 5 minutes.
- To the saffron and cardamom mixture add the mashed potato and mix well.
- Add the previous mixture to the flour and mix with your hand or a whisk. Gradually pour the yeast mixture and keep on stirring, until the batter looks like cake batter.
- Leave the batter to double in size, may take 40 minutes to an hour depending how hot or cold is your kitchen. After resting, the batter should have bubbles, and be somewhat bouncy.
- Whisk the batter for a few seconds.
- Heat oil. Take around a teaspoon from the batter, and carefully drop it in the oil, if it floats quickly, the oil is too hot.
- Scoop the batter with your fingers (take around ½ tablespoon from batter), use your thump to push the batter off your fingers and in the oil, or dip a spoon in cold oil then take ½ tablespoon from batter and pour it in the hot oil.
- After 1 minute of frying, move the dumplings around using a wooden spoon or spatula, this will make them cook evenly.
- When the dumplings are light brown, remove them from oil, and place them on kitchen paper.
- Pour your favorite syrup on top. The syrup should be at room temperature.
- You should serve these dumplings the same day you make them.
- You can use honey instead of date syrup to pour over the luqaimat.
- Use any type of potatoes except sweet potatoes.
- Do not use olive oil or olive oil mixed with canola oil to fry the dumplings.
- This post was published in 2012 but is updated with more information and a video.