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What Are Loukoumades?

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  • Written By: Kathy Dowling
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Loukoumades are Greek doughnuts which have a round, golden appearance. Made using flour and salt, and dressed with honey syrup and cinnamon, they are very popular in Greek cooking. The dessert first originated in Ancient Greece, where they were called "honey tokens" and were awarded to winning Olympic athletes. The pastry was first recorded in writing by the poet Callimachus, making it one of the oldest recorded desserts in Greek history. Nowadays, many versions of loukoumades exist, including gulab jamun and jalebi.

The Greek pastry is made by first combining flour and salt. Yeast is then dissolved in warm water and a pit is made in the center of the flour mixture where it is poured until the dough is malleable and sticky. The dough is left to rest and, once it has doubled in size, it is ready to be fried in hot oil in a deep fryer. To achieve the round shape, a small amount of dough is placed into the palm of a hand and is molded into a small ball before it is placed in the oil. This process is continued until the entire dough mixture is used; when the pastry balls float to the top of the oil and appear golden in color, they are ready to dress with syrup.

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While there are variations in recipes, loukoumades are generally served with honey syrup and cinnamon. To make the honey syrup, water, honey, and sugar are combined and brought to a boil. The syrup is then poured over the loukoumades and cinnamon is sprinkled on top. Loukoumades are usually served warm.

There are different versions of loukoumades throughout many parts of the world. In countries such as India and Nepal, a dessert called gulab jamun is made by combining milk powder and flour as well as milk and butter until balls of dough are produced, which are then cooked in hot oil. Similar to loukoumades, gulab jamun is served with syrup which is generally made by combining sugar and rosewater together. Another popular fried-pastry sweet from India is jalebi. Jalebi takes a little longer to make than gulab jamun due to its pretzel-shaped appearance, and it is often served during festive occasions such as Diwali celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs.

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