Bahrain – Zalabia / Zalbia

by Adelina Aida

The cuisine of Bahrain is very similar to the Middle Eastern, Arabian, Indian cuisine. Almost all the dishes are almost the same and have the same use of ingredients. The dishes have even the same names and tastes. Arabian tea, Indian Biryani, UAE hummus is commonly cooked in Bahrain. There are few dishes that are originally from Bahranian cuisine. Bahrain has a mixture of cultures from Arabic, Indian, Persian, Balochi, and European. This cuisine and cultures have influences on other regional areas. Middle Eastern cuisine is also known as West Asian cuisine but it has many other different cuisines with totally different dishes and origins.

This dish is a dessert or sweet dish and is very unique in taste and shape. This is like a funnel or round tunnel. These are basically cooked by using a thick paste of plain flour and then deep-fried by piping batter into a piping bag for achieving this shape. The shape of this dessert is as important as the taste and cooking method. This is dipped into the flavored sugar syrup for getting the desirable sweetness. Sugar syrup is cooked by adding different flavors like saffron, cardamom, rose, etc.

The variety of this dessert depends on the shape, and flavor addition in the sugar syrup. There is some combination that goes well with this dish like nuts, warm milk, thick cream, etc. This is a dish that is placed in the category of FRIED DOUGH dishes. That is partially correct. The dough is prepared if flour but its consistency is not like original dough, this is more like the semi-solid consistency of the thick batter. And this is fried by adding into the piping bag.

Alternative names of the dish

  • Jilapi,
  • Jilebi
  • Jilipi
  • Zulbia
  • Jerry
  • Mushabak
  • Zalabia
  • Zalbia
  • Jalebi
  • Funnel cake
  • Sugar syrup cake


In the FERTILE CRESCENT, there are many domestications of different animals like goats, sheep, and cattle, etc. The Fermentation and proofing of the wheat and flour dough were also discovered at the time of Mesopotamian time.

At the time of the Persian Empire 550–330 BCE, rice and fruits were also be used in the dishes.

From Orient, the use of nuts, figs, peanuts, almonds was introduced and used in many dishes of Middle Eastern cuisine.

At the time of the Mongol Invasion, spices like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and all other spices were introduced.

Religion had also a very great impact on the use of HALAL ingredients in the dishes. There is a difference in Halal and Haram ingredients. Halal is allowed in Islam and Haram like Pork, Pigs, and the use of wine is inhibited.

Staple Food of Bahranian Cuisine

  • Biryani
  • Harees
  • Khabeesa
  • Machboos
  • Mahyawa
  • Maglooba
  • Quzi
  • Zalabia


Zalabia is a very similar dish to Luqaimat. This is more like a dough, fried and dipped into the sugar syrup. But the dough of luqaimat is way more different from the batter of zalabia but it is placed in the same category.

Zlaba is the city of Beja, Tunisia. It is the history that people of Tunisia when they arrived the INDIA and introduced this dish the people of India loved this dish and named it as Jalebi. Tunisia people claimed that Abdurrahman Ibnou Nafaâ Ziriab, an Iranian Musician originated the dish and introduced to them.

Abdurrahman Ibnou Nafaâ Ziriab invented this dish as a cake dipped in sweet syrup. But this dish evolved from region to region and different variations are formed.

In Iran, there is a dish it is known as zolbiya and it is very similar to the jalebi or zalabia.


This dish has various names so the Etymology is different from name to name. Like Zalbia, this name comes from the BEJA, TUNISIA, a city known as ZLABA. This dish is arrived by Tunisians, so the city of its invention is known to be the name of the dish, ZALABIA.

JALEBI is an Indian or Pakistani name for this same dish by their arrival when they introduced this dish. Indians named Zalabia as JALEBI

This dish is famous in many countries around the world.

  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Bahrain
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Tunisia
  • Egypt
  • Arab countries
  • Azerbajan
  • Ethiopia
  • Mauritius



In India and Pakistan, a dish is known as JALEBI. Jalebi is a similar dish of swirl circular-shaped dessert. This is made by using plain flour and the color is orange because the artificial color is used in the batter of jalebi. The thick batter is fried by drawing the shape of swirl into the hot oil and fry until crispiness appeared.

Now the flavored sweet syrups are cooked by adding any flavors like saffron, cardamom, cloves, and dipping this warm fried jalebi into the syrup and then served after proper soaking of sweetened syrup.

This is served with different items like :

  • Milk
  • Rabri
  • Cream
  • Nuts
  • Rose petals, etc


In Iran, this dish is known as zoolbia. This is a round-shaped dish and sweetened mostly by using honey or sugar. In Iran, this is a basic and simple dish without addition of any artificial flavors. In Iran, this is served with tea like a Persian-style snack time. It is usually served in Ramzan after Iftar. This dish has the following different varieties.

  • Zolbiya
  • Zulbiā
  • Zulbia
  • Zolbia,

Another egg-shaped dish is named as “egg” shape ” BAMIYEH


The sweet dish of GANJA is known as Zulbiya or zilviya. This is the special dish of Azerbaijan. It is mostly served in Novruz, a new year of Iran. Also known as Persian new year or Iranian new year.

The round-shaped zilviyas of red yellow or orange color were served at day on March 21. This is more like round cookies served dipped in sweet syrup.


A dish is known as JERRY. Jerry is eaten with a very thin fried bread known as SWARI.

Jerry with Swari s the best combination for breakfast and also be served as lunch. This is like bread with jerry. Swari is the bread that is thin but deep-fried in the oil and served with this fried dough dipped in syrup.

Masala Chiya is the drink of Spices tea is served with this dish. This is like a proper meal of sweet dish, with bread and drink.


In the Middle east like :

  • Levant
  • Egypt
  • Yemen
  • Syria
  • Lebanon
  • Iraq
  • Iran

There is a dish known by names Zalābiya, zalabiya (زلابية). This is known as Fried dough or also be mixed with the western dish, Donuts. The shape of this dish is different in the middle east because they used to make it like fried dough. The round ball-shaped and it has eggs in the batter of this dish.


Garnishing of this dish is very important because it enhances the flavors and also looks amazing by using nuts and rose, honey, etc.

  • Raisins
  • Crushed cardamon
  • Rose petals
  • Saffron
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Coconut


  • Hot milk
  • Persian black tea
  • Arabian Aromatic tea
  • Thick cream
  • Rabri ( sweetened milk solids)



Simple basic zlabia is prepared and chocolate syrup is drizzled over it like a sauce to make it chocolate zalabia.


It is fried and dipped in rose sugar syrup.


Caramel sauce is dipped in the zalabia and then sprinkle over it like a drizzle. This is a new version of zalabia with new ingredients.


This is saffron sweet sugar syrup in which zalabia is dipped and soaked for a new hour before serving


  • Plain flour : 1 cup
  • Corn flour : 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda : 2 tbsp
  • Eggs : 2
  • Ghee : 4 tbsp
  • Plain yogurt : 4 tbsp
  • Baking soda : 1 tsp
  • Oil : for frying


  • sugar caster : 2 cups
  • Lemon juice : 2 tbsp
  • Cardamon powder : 1 tsp


  • Almonds : 4 tbsp
  • Pistachio : 4 tbsp
  • Saffron : 3 to 5 strands


  • Take plain flour and sieve it well. There should be no lumps in the batter so sieve the flor for atleast 3 times.
  • Now mix all the dry ingredients together like flour, corn flour, baking soda and mix them well.
  • Take all the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix it well.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well, we prepared the thick consistency of batter so add water if required.
  • You can skip adding water by replacing it with milk.
  • Now take a bottle with nozzle or piping bag and pour the batter in it.
  • Preheat the oil on medium flame.
  • When oil is heatup enough start making swirl, round shape direct into the oil.
  • It required practice to achieve the perfect shape.
  • On other side, take sugar in a cooking pan and melt it by adding leon and cardamom powder.
  • Normal slightly sticky sugar syrup is used to dipped the zalabia in for perfect soaking.
  • Prepare the sugar syrup and dip freshly fried zalabia into the warm sugar syrup.
  • After 20 minutes of soaking serve it with nuts and saffron.

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