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Sam'dan lokma tatlisi.jpg
Alternative namesZalabiyeh, sfenj, buñuelos, loukoumas, loukmades, luqma, crispella[1]
TypeFried dough
Main ingredientsyeast-leavened dough, oil; sugar syrup or honey

Lokma are pastries made of leavened and deep fried dough, soaked in syrup or honey, sometimes coated with cinnamon or other ingredients. The dish was described as early as the 13th century by al-Baghdadi as luqmat al-qādi (لقمة القاضي), "judge's morsels."[2][3][4]


The Arabic word luqma (لقمة‎) (plural luqmāt), means morsel, mouthful, or bite.[5][6] The dish was known as luqmat al-qādi (لقمة القاضي) or "judge's morsels" in 13th century Arabic cookery books,[2] and the word luqma or loqma by itself has come to refer to it.[5] The Turkish name for the dish, lokma, is derived from the Arabic,[6] as is the Greek name loukoumádes.[2]


Greek loukmades served at a pub in Melbourne, Australia

The earliest pastry known from ancient Greek literature are "honey tokens". According to the Callimachus , they were given as small gifts (charisioi) to the victors of the Olympic games.[7]

The recipe for Luqmat al-Qadi, yeast-leavened dough boiled in oil and doused in honey or sugar syrup with rosewater, dates back to at least the early medieval period and the 13th-century Abbasid Caliphate, where it is mentioned in several of the existent cookery books of the time. It is also mentioned in the One Thousand and One Nights, in the story The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad.[2][4] The explorer and scholar Ibn Battuta in the 14th century encountered the dish he knew as Luqaymat al-Qadi at a dinner in Multan, during his travels in medieval India, where his hosts called it al-Hashimi.[4]

It was cooked by palace cooks in the Ottoman Empire for centuries and influenced by other countries cuisines of the former countries of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, Middle East and the Caucasus.[citation needed]


Turkish lokma Izmir, Turkey

The thick and smooth yeast batter rises and has a very soft and foamy consistency. The batter is usually dropped into hot oil and fried to a golden brown color, but some are doughnut-shaped. Lokma are served with honey and, occasionally, cinnamon.[8]

Traditionally, the batter was leavened with yeast but modern variations sometimes use baking powder.[9]

Regional varieties[edit]

Arab countries[edit]

Today, in Iraq it is called lokma or luqaymat and they differ both in size and taste across the country. While in Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, luqaymat, sometimes spiced with cardamom or saffron, are little changed from the 13th-century recipes.[4] In parts of the Middle East they may also be called awameh (عوامة‎) meaning "swimmer", or zalabya (زلابيا‎), with numerous spelling variations, though the latter term may also refer to a similar dish made in a long spiral or straight baton shape.[10][11][12] They are traditionally included in times of religious observances; for example in the Levant by Muslims at Ramadan, Jews at Hanukkah, and Christians at Epiphany alike.[10][12][9]


Lokma sold at a pastry shop in Northern Cyprus

Lokma are called loukoumádes (λουκουμάδες) and lokmádes (λοκμάδες) in Cypriot Greek. They are commonly served spiced with cinnamon in a honey syrup and can be sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar.


They are also called zvingoi (σβίγγοι) by the Greek Jews, who make them as Hanukkah treats.[13][14] The term, from the Arabic for "sponge", was likely originally the name of an older Byzantine pastry, and was later used by the Romaniotes as the name for loukoumas.[14]

Some say it was brought to Greece by the Pontic Greeks who migrated from Anatolia during the Lausanne Conference. They call it tsirichta.[15]Tsirichta are served at Pontian weddings.[16][17]


Lokma sold a street food near the Galata Bridge in Istanbul

There are different types of lokma in Turkey. Dessert lokma are made with flour, sugar, yeast and salt, fried in oil and later bathed in syrup or honey. In some regions of Turkey lokma are eaten with cheese, similar to breakfast bagels.[18][19] İzmir lokması are doughnut shaped with a hole in the middle. the round shaped one; The spherical one is called the Palace Lokma ( Turkish: Saray lokması).[citation needed] In the Güdül-Ayaş regions of Ankara, there is a type of lokma known as bırtlak.[20]

Traditionally, forty days after someone passes away, close relatives and friends of the deceased cook large quantities of lokma for neighbours and passersby. People form queues to get a plate and recite a prayer for the soul of the deceased after eating the lokma.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marks, Gil. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.
  2. ^ a b c d Davidson, Alan (21 August 2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. pp. 424–425. ISBN 9780191040726 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Charles Perry, A Baghdad Cookery Book, 2006. ISBN 1-903018-42-0.
  4. ^ a b c d Salloum, Habeeb (25 June 2013). Sweet Delights from a Thousand and One Nights: The Story of Traditional Arab Sweets. I.B.Tauris. pp. 49–52. ISBN 9780857733412 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Kélékian, Diran (1911). Dictionnaire Turc-Français (in French). Mihran.
  6. ^ a b "lokma". Nişanyan Sözlük (in Turkish). Retrieved 2020-01-01.
  7. ^ Glaros, Vicki C. (1995). "A Sweet Treat For Greek Easter". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Greek honey balls (loukoumades)".
  9. ^ a b Kalla, Joudie (17 September 2019). Palestine on a Plate: Memories from My Mother's Kitchen. White Lion Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7112-4528-0 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ a b Krondl, Michael (1 June 2014). The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-61374-670-7 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Perry, Charles (2015). Goldstein, Darra (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-931339-6 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ a b Haroutunian, Arto der (19 March 2014). Sweets & Desserts from the Middle East. Grub Street Publishers. ISBN 978-1-909808-58-4 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "Χάνουκα". Ioannina Jewish Legacy Project (in Greek). Canadian Embassy in Greece, The Jewish Museum of Greece, The City of Ioannina and the Jewish Community of Ioannina. Archived from the original on 22 September 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  14. ^ a b Marks, Gil (17 November 2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. HMH. ISBN 9780544186316 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Tsirichta" (in Greek). Pontos News. October 19, 2012.
  16. ^ "Tsirichta, the Donuts of Pontus". Trapezounta.
  17. ^ "Tsirichta, the Pontian Loukoumades". Lelevose. March 23, 2020.
  18. ^ Ayfer Tunç "Bir maniniz yoksa annemler size gelecek: 70'li Yıllarda Hayatımız" sf. 284, Yapı Kredi Yayınları (2001).
  19. ^ www.sozcu.com.tr https://www.sozcu.com.tr/hayatim/gurme/lokma-tatlisi-tarifi-iste-lokma-yapilisi-ve-malzemeleri/. Retrieved 2021-05-11. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "Türkiyede Halk Ağzından Söz Derleme Dergisi" cilt. 1 sf. 201, Maarif Matbaası (1939).

Further reading[edit]

  • 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