|Alternative names||Zalabyieh, Loukoumades, Lokma, Lokmades, Luqmat|
|Place of origin||Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Levant|
|Variations||Sugar syrup, honey, cinnamon, chocolate syrup|
|Cookbook: Loukoumades Media: Loukoumades|
Lokma (Turkish), loukoumades (Greek), loukmades (Cypriot) (Greek: λουκουμάδες, singular λουκουμάς, loukoumas), zalabyieh (Arabic: زلابية), or bāmiyeh (Persian: بامیه), — see etymology below — are pastries made of deep fried dough soaked in syrup, chocolate sauce 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 continues to be made in Arab countries.
Zalabiyeh (زلابية) is a traditional Arab dessert, eaten in Lebanon, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries. The leavened dough consisting of flour, water, yeast, salt, and the optional dash of sugar and/or oil is turned into balls and then deep fried. They are then immediately soaked in a sugar syrup, usually flavoured with ittar (عطار), and served warm. The dessert is popular during holidays and special occasions, and sometimes served with Arabic coffee.
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 are a traditional Greek dessert with roots in deep antiquity, although some disagreement exists over which historical Greek honey-cake is the ancestor of the modern loukoumas, whose present name is borrowed from Arabic via Turkish. The candidate most frequently mentioned as being prepared with hot oil is enkris, which is described below along with other postulated ancestral honey-cakes.
«ἐν δὲ θεοῖσιν ἐπὶ φλογὶ καιέμεν ὄμπας»
"and to burn on the flame cakes made of meal and honey for the gods."
Callimachus. "Callimachus, Fragments of Uncertain Location". doi:10.4159/DLCL.callimachus-fragments_uncertain_location.1973. Retrieved 25 June 2015. – via digital Loeb Classical Library (subscription required)
This fragment from Callimachus has been used to argue the supposed antiquity of loukoumades and a connexion to the ancient Olympics by, among others, The Washington Post. Various assertions have also been made regarding ompne (Ancient Greek: ὄμπνη) in the text means, in the plural form, "sacrificial cakes made of grain and honey". Other sacrificial cakes, often called popanon (Ancient Greek: πόπανον) being ancestral to loukoumades; however, the only thing that is clear about them is that they were made from grain and honey.
A dish very similar to loukoumades is 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, which mentions enkris thirteen times, in various inflected forms. The most complete description of it in the Deipnosophists is a passage that reads:
πεμμάτιον ἑψόμενον ἐν ἐλαίῳ καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο μελιτούμενον, μνημονεύει αὐτῶν Στησίχορος διὰ τούτων
χόνδρον τε καὶ ἐγκρίδας ἄλλα τε πέμματα καὶ μέλι χλωρόν.
There are cakes, also, called ἐγκρίδες. These are cakes boiled in oil, and after that seasoned with honey; and they are mentioned by Stesichorus in the following lines:—
Groats and encrides, And other cakes, and fresh sweet honey.
καὶ ἐπωνόμασαν οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Μαν ἦν δὲ ὡς σπέρμα κορίου λευκόν τὸ δὲ γεῦμα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἐγκρὶς ἐν μέλιτι
And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.
And also in the Book of Numbers,
«καὶ διεπορεύετο ὁ λαὸς καὶ συνέλεγον καὶ ἤληθον αὐτὸ ἐν τῷ μύλῳ καὶ ἔτριβον ἐν τῇ θυΐᾳ καὶ ἥψουν αὐτὸ ἐν τῇ χύτρᾳ καὶ ἐποίουν αὐτὸ ἐγκρυφίας, καὶ ἦν ἡ ἡδονὴ αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ γεῦμα ἐγκρὶς ἐξ ἐλαίου»
And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
Also, there may be a connection to the ritual feeding of the victors at ancient Olympia. Aristotle and other ancient writers refer to kharisioi plakoi or plakonta (χαρίσιοι πλάκοι, πλακούντα), translated as "(thanksgiving) cakes or "(gift) cakes". These were offered to the victorious athletes in a highly ritualized ceremony along with the kotinos wreath. No recipe survives.
The pastry is called sfingi (σφίνγοι) 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 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.
- Diran Kélékian, Dictionnaire Turc-Français (Ottoman Turkish), 1911
- Oxford Companion to Food; Charles Perry, A Baghdad Cookery Book, 2006. ISBN 1-903018-42-0.
- "Kristin and Marianne Kyriakos", "An Olympic 'Honey Token' Fest: Watch the Games with a Dozen Guests", The Washington Post, Sunday, August 22, 2004; p. M07 
- Perseus Project "Word frequency information for ἐγκρίς", available at: , retrieved 27 June 2015
- Athenaeus. The Deipnosophists. with an English Translation by. Charles Burton Gulick. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. London. William Heinemann Ltd. 1927. 1. 
- ταῦτ᾿ ἔχων ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς ἁρπαζέτω τὰς ἐγκρίδας, Holding these let him snatch the honey cakes in the streets.Pherecrates. "Pherecrates, Tiddlers, Fragments". Retrieved 25 June 2015. – via digital Loeb Classical Library (subscription required)
- Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940. , "ἐγκρίς , ίδος, ἡ," 
- Η Παλαιά Διαθήκη, Alfred Rahlfs Critical Edition, 1935; King James Version translation, Exodus 16:31
- Η Παλαιά Διαθήκη, Alfred Rahlfs Critical Edition, 1935; King James Version translation, Numbers 11:8
- Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940. , "χαρίσιος" 
- Canadian Embassy in Greece, The Jewish Musueum of Greece, The City of Ioannina and the Jewish Community of Ioannina, Ioannina Jewish Legacy Project, «Χάνουκα» , accessed 30 June 2015+
- Eugenia Ricotti, Prina Ricotti, Meals and Recipes from Ancient Greece, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007, ISBN 0892368764, p. 108