Zalabye; Fried Dough for Epiphany

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Some serious social media suicidal thoughts were spinning around my head.

I have neglected my social media accounts to a point that they might have died. I tried reviving my Instagram account. But still, I have reached a point where I do activities that I don’t want to share online. I meet people and rather not post a photo of us together.
Is this growth? Is this growing weary of social media? Is it social media suicide?

It is equivalent to leaving the big city and escaping to the mountains and seeing no one, sitting in between of beautiful high trees and waking up to the sound of roosters calling the sun to climb up from its slumber. It isn’t that bad if you think about it.

But for someone who is making a living from being online, sharing stuff online, and getting work from doing work and sharing it on the worldwide web… THIS IS SUICIDE!

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I breathe, and come back to my computer, fight my inner demons again, and I WRITE. I count my blessings. I remember the people around me that I love, and the ones that love me. I remind myself of the things I’ve done, of the things I can do.
I edit photos. I write. I can still do it. I shouldn’t stop yet!

I come to a conclusion that I need to take action and go for it. Taking a step is the only move I need to do. And from there I will pick up step by step until I am up again.

TODAY is my 30th birthday. I am no longer in the 20s. Some said this is the best time, this is the decade when I start to really know what I want, and do what I want and care for myself more. Maybe I will after all of this.

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For now, I will take the symbolism of this recipe as yet another comeback. These fried dough rings are a specialty Palestinians prepare the night of Epiphany on January 5th. They are called Zalabye (very similar to the Lebanese yet differently seasoned) are lightly seasoned with anise, mahlab, and sesame and nigella seeds.

What makes this recipe special to me is how versatile it is. We usually prepare it as a savory dish to be enjoyed fresh out of the fryer, dipped in labneh and served with some veggies and bitter olives. Others enjoy dipping it in molasses or honey or tossing it in sugar. But regardless of how we enjoy it, there’s no doubt the frangrance filling the streets of my neighborhood won’t lure you into making them yourself or maybe beg any of the neighbors for a bite! Mom prepared it this year and had an audience waiting.

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Zalabye; Fried Dough for Epiphany
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  • 1kg all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp ground mahlab
  • 2 tbsp ground anise
  • 2 tbsp sesame
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds (black sesame) 1 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 2-3 cups water


  • Mix all the dry ingredients and gradually add some water and knead until the dough comes together forming a soft dough
  • Cover the dough with plastic film or kitchen towel and leave for an hour or two to rise
  • Before starting to work with the dough, heat a large pan with medium depth with oil for frying
  • Working with wet hands, take a picnh of the dough and roll it into a ball and set aside on a wet surface to prevent sticking
  • Take another, larger, pinch and roll it then stretch it hollowing the center to form a ring larger than the prepared ball. Set it around the ball and form larger rings until you reach the size you want
  • Start the frying by carefully dropping the ball into the hot oil then carefully adding the rings around it one by one. Have someone next to you with a skewer or pair of tongs to keep the rings in place
  • Fry until golden in color then carefully flip holding the whole disc with a large pair of tongs and fry until golden
  • Drain and serve with either labneh or molasses 

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