|Alternative names||Loukoumades, Lokma, Lokmades, Luqmat|
|Place of origin||Turkey, Greece|
|Variations||Dough, sugar syrup or honey, cinnamon|
Lokma (Turkish), loukoumades (Greek), loukmades (Cypriot) (Greek: λουκουμάδες, singular λουκουμάς, loukoumas), or luqmat al-qadi (Arabic: لقمة القاضي, Persian: بامیه bāmiyeh, see etymology below) are pastries made of deep fried dough soaked in sugar syrup or honey with cinnamon and sometimes sprinkled with sesame.
The Turkish word lokma means 'mouthful' or 'morsel', from Arabic لقمة luqma(t). A version called لقمة القاضي luqmat al-qādi (judge's mouthful) was described by al-Baghdadi in the 13th century and is made in Arab countries to this day.
Lokma is a traditional Turkish dessert made of flour, sugar, yeast and salt bathed with syrup or honey. Lokma was first cooked by the sultan's cooks at Ottoman Empire palaces, and for centuries, it was unknown how it was made. After the 20th century, it became a tradition for Turks to cook and serve lokmas to neighbours and passengers.
In Greece, loukoumades are commonly spiced with cinnamon in a honey syrup and can be sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar. Loukoumades is a traditional Greek dessert. In Ancient Greece, these deep fried dough balls were served to the winners of the Greek Olympics. The Greek poet Callimachus was the first to state that these deep fried dough balls were soaked in honey and then served to the winners as "honey tokens".[dubious ]
The third and final point of convergence between the history of Greek food and the ancient Olympic Games was the ritual feeding of the victors at ancient Olympia. The poet Callimachus tells us that one of the earliest prizes awarded to the winners were what is commonly translated as “honey tokens” (χαρίσιοι in Gk.), which were essentially fried balls of dough covered in honey. These were offered to the victorious athletes in a highly ritualized ceremony along with the kotinos wreath. Callimachus’ reference to these “honey tokens” is the earliest mention of any kind of pastry in European literature. Today, the “honey tokens” of Callimachus are known as Loukoumades (pronounced ‘loo-koo-MAH-thess) and can be found throughout Greece in special pastry shops that serve only Loukoumades. One of the best such shops is Savva’s Loukoumades (Λουκουμάδες του Σάββα) located in a town called Polychrono on the western peninsula of Halkidiki, in the northern Greek region of Macedonia.
The pastry is called zvingoi by the Greek Jews, who make them as Hanukkah treats. It is claimed to have been originated by the Romaniotes. A similar dish is also found in Italy as Sfingi di San Giuseppe.
Various other kinds of fried dough with syrup are found in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and South Asia, from the Italian struffoli (the most similar in preparation to loukoumades) and zeppole (more like an American cake doughnut) to the Indian and Pakistani jalebi and gulab jamun.
Perhaps the oldest documentation of a related but not identical dish is in the tomb of Ramses IV, where something more like jalebi is shown being prepared. Later, the Ancient Greek enchytoi consisted of a cheese-and-flour dough squeezed into hot fat, then covered with honey.
- A.D. Alderson and Fahir İz, The Concise Oxford Turkish Dictionary, 1959. ISBN 0-19-864109-5
- Γ. Μπαμπινιώτης (Babiniotis), Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας, Athens, 1998
- Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. jalebi.