|Alternative names||Loukoumades, Loukmades, Luqmat, loukmat alkady|
|Main ingredients||yeast-leavened dough, oil; sugar syrup or honey|
Lokma (Turkish), loukoumádes (Greek: λουκουμάδες), with other names in other languages, 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."
A classical version of lokma might have been given to winners of ancient Olympic Games. Loukoumades are the earliest pastries mentioned by historians in ancient Greek literature. "Honey tokens" were mentioned by the ancient Greek poet Callimachus in "The Vigil." He wrote that the sweets were given as prizes to the victors of the Olympic Games. They were called charisioi, which meant "little gifts." Callimachus noted that "the athletes were delighted to get them."
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. Today, in Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, luqaymat, sometimes spiced with cardomom or saffron, are little changed. 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.
Greece and Cyprus
In Greece and Cyprus, they are called loukoumádes (λουκουμάδες) and lokmádes (λοκμάδες) in Cypriot Greek. Loukoumas can be used for a singular piece of loukoumádes such as "φέρε μου ενα λουκουμά" which translates to "Bring me a loukouma". They are commonly 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. 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.
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.
Boortsog, called pişi or tuzlu lokma (salty lokma) in Turkish, which is lokma without any sweet syrup or honey, is a staple food for Turkic and Mongolian cuisines. Lokma in the form of a dessert is made with flour, sugar, yeast and salt, fried in oil and later bathed in syrup or honey. 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. While in the former Ottoman countries such as Iraq and Greece it is an ordinary dessert, it has a ceremonial meaning in Turkey and is generally not consumed as an everyday dessert. Traditionally, forty days after someone passes away, close relatives and friends of the deceased cook lokma in large quantities and serve to neighbours and passersby. People form queues to get a plate and recite a prayer for the soul of the deceased in return after eating the lokma.
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 lokma) and zeppole to the Indian 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 dish similar to lokma described by Archestratus, a Greek poet from Sicily, was enkris (Greek: ἐγκρίς, plural ἐγκρίδες)—a dough-ball fried in olive oil, which he details in his Gastronomy; a work now lost, but partially preserved in the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus.
- Boortsog (tuzlu lokma in Turkish)
- Funnel cake
- Gulab jamun
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