They say, fes is the spiritual city of Morocco, home of the oldest university in the world, they also say, it’s the greatest city of high Islamic civilization.
I say, Fes is a dream that takes you away in a magical voyage, the memory of a city founded by a dynasty.
Have a tour on its ramparts, smell the old fragrances of al oud and musk, everything evolves in symbiosis, a mix of local knowledge and skills from artists and maalems are beautifully interwoven with a rich diverse inspiration from Andalusia, Orient and Africa.
Fes, my city, my love, it’s your time to shine! and as Ramadan approaches, all Moroccan women are in culinary racing for the best Ramadan table. Sweets and cookies are prepared with lots of love. I'm sharing with you one of the famous sweets prepared during this fasting period. It's called Chebakkia. Here is the recipe:
This recipe will make about 2 kg of chebbakia (approximatively 4.5 pounds).
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tbs ground anise
- 1 tbs ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- pinch of Arabic Gum (gum acacia, mastic)
- 1 bowl (about 250 g) of toasted sesame seeds
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange flower water
- 2 tbs yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- about 3 lbs of honey
- 2 Tbs orange flower water
- 1 1/2 liters vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds for decorating
Make the Chebakia Dough
Grind toasted sesame in a food processor until it becomes powder. Mix all the dry ingredients together: flour, ground sesame, anise, cinnamon, salt, saffron Arabic gum. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands to form dough. Add more flour if necessary.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes or in a mixer for five minutes. Divide the dough into four parts, shape each one into a smooth mound, and cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Roll and Cut the Dough & Fold the Chebakkia
Lightly flour your work and start flattening the dough to a thin layer. Cut the dough into small rectangles and make 4 evenly spaced cuts without going through each cut. The rectangle should stay attached at the ends. It should have 5 attached strips.
Hold the rectangle with your hand and try to thread in an alternative way. Then, with your hand try to gently turn the strips inside out until you have flower shape dough.
Place the folded piece of dough on a tray. Repeat the process with the remaining rectangles. All the leftover dough should be reshaped into mounds again and repeat the same process. Cover the trays of folded dough with a towel until ready to fry.
Frying the Chebakia
Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. At the same time, heat the honey in a large pot, do not boil, add the orange flower water to the honey and turn off the heat.
When the oil is hot, fry the chebakia in batches. Adjust the heat as necessary to slowly fry each batch of chebakia to a medium brown color. If the oil is too hot, this will cook chebakkia too fast and will look dark brown from the outside but still uncooked from inside.
Make sure chebakkia has a medium golden brown color, use a strainer to transfer them from the oil directly to the hot honey. Gently push down the chebakkia and soak them in the flavored honey, let them for 5 to 7 minutes. Once they absorb the honey, they will take on a nice shiny brown color.
if you let them soak for a longer period, they will absorb more honey and will lose their crispiness. Gently transfer them to a large platter or tray, and sprinkle the centers with sesame.