Beirut and Lebanon in general are seriously lacking in North African restaurants or foods from the Maghreb; it is easier to find a can of harissa in Dallas than in Beirut!
So imagine the thrill I felt when Leyth Hazgui, from the resort town of Hammamet, flagged me about his native ftira, with a recipe to boot.
Ftira is a bread made with a mixture of semolina and regular wheat flour. The dough is shaped into small disks and fried. Puffed up, with a crisp shell and a chewy interior, it is devoured hot with honey, powdered sugar, or some chocolate sauce drizzled on top.
The neat thing here is that the donut itself is not sweet; the contrast between the crunchy/chewy bread and the sweet chocolate sauce is irresistible. Have a strong cup of coffee and you are set for a delightful morning.
Recipe from Tunisie Presse.
INGREDIENTS: Makes about 22 donuts
- 250 g. of semolina flour (fine) (8.8 ounces)
- 250 g. of regular all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of dry instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- Place the semolina and wheat flour in the bowl of a food processor or mixer with the salt and mix to combine well. Place the yeast and sugar in a small bowl with 1/2 cup of water and stir to mix; cover the bowl and let it froth for about 15 minutes. When frothy and bubbly, pour the yeast and olive oil in the bowl of flours and combine well, adding more of the water. Process for several minutes. Transfer to a work area and knead some more if necessary until the ball of dough is as smooth as baby skin.
- Transfer the ball of dough to a bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of oil, flip the dough to cover it with a thin film of oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set is aside for a few hours or overnight.
- Punch the dough down to de-gas it and roll it into a large circle, about 1/3 inch high. Cut circles of dough. Heat a few cups of oil in a pot and when hot (about 375F) drop the circles of dough into the pot. Fry for 4 minutes total or until the donut is golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with honey or chocolate sauce or powdered sugar.
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