Whenever I visit Jordan, I make a point of finding the carts that sell Karabeej Halab dotted around the Balad or downtown. There is nothing like these warm fried strips of dough that are soaked in syrup, so super crispy on the outside and soft and syrupy on the inside! They are super nostalgic and the ultimate street food. In all these years, I never thought to make these at home until my husband requested them one day and I found the perfect recipe online! I could not believe how easy they were to make, although it is probably a good thing, I didn’t discover these earlier because we’d probably be having them way too often!
The word Karabeej comes from the Arabic word Kirbaj, which means a whip, which describes the long shape of these. These should not be confused with the other Karabeej Halab, which are nut-filled cookies made in Syria. Variations of this dessert are made across the Middle East and they come in many shapes, sizes and names! Some people may think these are like churros, but while they may look alike, they are completely different, as churros are flour and egg-based, while Karabeej are semolina-based.
This dessert is really easy to make, but you want to make sure you have the correct semolina. You want to use the medium-ground semolina, not the one that is super fine and looks like flour, nor the one with the big grains. Different brands call the grinds different things, and I found that the brand I use is labelled coarse semolina, although it is the medium grind one, so definitely look at the semolina grains themselves rather than the label! It is best to use a star tip to pipe these into the oil because I feel like the ridges add crispiness, but if you don’t have one, you can just pipe them without a tip.
Starter: Pumpkin mutabbal
Top these with ground pistachios for extra crunch and try not to eat the entire plate yourself! I have definitely had to restrain myself!
2 cups medium-ground semolina
½ cup flour
1 tbsp milk powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup vegetable/sunflower/corn oil
1 cup warm water
Oil for frying
Slivered or crushed pistachios to garnish
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp orange blossom or rose water (optional, but recommended)
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Then add the water, vanilla and oil and whisk together until you have a thick batter that slowly drips from the tip of the whisk. If your dough is too thick, gradually add a bit of water until you get the right consistency. Cover and leave an hour to rise.
- Make your syrup by mixing the water and sugar in a pot. Once it comes to the boil, leave to simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add the lemon juice and let simmer for a minute. Remove from heat and mix in your orange blossom or rose water. You can leave this out if you prefer.
- Pour the syrup in a bowl that will fit the long karabeej and leave to cool. The syrup needs to be completely cool before dipping the karabeej in it.
- Once the batter has risen and doubled in size, give it a good mix and pour into a piping bag with a star tip. If you do not have the tips, don’t worry, you can just place in a piping bag or Ziploc bag with a corner cut off it.
- Heat the oil and once hot, pipe the batter either into long tubes or circles. Once golden brown on one side, flip over and fry the other side until golden. Once they are completely golden, remove from the oil and place straight into the syrup and then on a plate.
Main: Yakhni batata