Zalabia for Hanukah, it rhymes see? Crispy, doughy, sweet and very addictive.
These biscuits were adopted by the Jews in Sudan from their neighbours in the Greek community. Friends taught friends, who passed it on to their friends and so the recipe changed and was adapted from the traditional Greek version. I was given three different recipes for finikia and this version is a combination of the three that I think works best and stays true to them all. Sweet, crumbly and buttery, finikia are decadently delicious.
300g caster sugar
2 tbsps. honey
1 piece lime or lemon rind
1 stick cinnamon
- Put the sugar and water in a pan on the hob on a high heat (don't use a non-stick pan for this)
- Stir gently but constantly with a metal spoon until all the water is dissolved
- Add the rind and cinnamon stick
- Boil for 5 minutes and remove from stove
- Add the lime juice and carefully bring the syrup back up to the boil - it should remain clear
- Take the syrup off the heat and leave to cool
1tsp baking powder
1½ tsps cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
- Mix the wet ingredients together
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl
- Make a crumble using the butter and dry ingredients
- Gradually mix in the wet ingredients and combine to form a dough
- Handling the dough as little as possible form a large sausage out of the dough and cut into slices half a centimetre thick
- Gently roll then flatten each piece for a firmer texture with more 'bite', or leave sliced for a softer biscuit
- Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes
- As soon as the biscuits come out the oven dunk them in the cool syrup and leave for at least two hours before eating to give the syrup time to fully infuse
Ka'ak is a biscuit and Agwa is a date - these are the imaginatively named 'Biscuits with dates', also known as 'Ma'amoul', although these are slightly smaller and more crunchy than Ma'amoul.
These biscuits are addictively moreish. A decisive crunch, then a melt in the mouth crumble, followed by sweet, chewy dates - heavenly! Traditionally made as flattened balls or rolled into fingers, this year I ran a cookery workshop at the wonderful Wimshul Cooks and we had a go at making them Hamentaschen shaped for Purim (there were no Hamentaschen in Sudan!). Everyone got creative with their shaping and it worked really well, so have fun!
If there was one taste that could sum up the amazing experience I have had since starting this project it would be the taste of Ka’ak ib Milch. Quite literally ‘cake with salt’ ka’ak (or kahqa) is actually more like a breadstick. It has been offered to me in almost every house I have visited and even with a few variations it has reminded me of home, comforted me, and replaced more than one meal on my marathon interviewing trips when I woke up too late for breakfast or got back too late and tired for dinner. It is quite fitting then that my uncle requested that I upload the recipe for this particular version (my grandmother’s of course) while he is living far from home. So here you go, the ultimate and eternally versatile taste of home!