Zalabia is a crispy donut hole dipped in syrup. They're an easy dessert to make and very popular in the Middle East. They can be made with ingredients that can be found in any pantry and, if you prefer to omit the syrup, they can be sprinkled with powdered sugar.
First prepare the yeast in a small bowl, mixing it with a teaspoon of sugar and ¼ cup of warm water, until it is activated and foaming.
In a medium bowl mix the flour and cornstarch with 1 cup of water, add the activated yeast and mix well. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and let it sit for 2 hours. Move the dough every 40 minutes with a spoon to remove air bubbles, until the dough rises.
To fry the donut holes, fill a dutch oven up to 1/3 of its capacity with canola oil and heat over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble.
Using two oiled spoons to handle the dough, roll approximately one tablespoon of dough into a ball shape for each donut hole. Carefully place the dough ball in the oil and fry. It will turn brown quickly and once it is completely brown, take it out quickly and place it on an absorbent paper to drain excess oil.
For the syrup, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat to dissolve the sugar. Then thicken over low heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
While they syrup is still hot, dip the donuts in and make sure they are well soaked.
Place the donuts on a serving tray and pour the remaining syrup on top to serve.
Variations: For a flavor alternative, instead of using cinnamon in the syrup, replace it with 3 tablespoons of orange blossom water or 3 tablespoons of rose water.
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