Elephant-ear pastries

Very simple to prepare, this is another Afghan sweet that is served on special occasions. It is made by shaping some dough into the shape of a baby elephant’s ear, deep-frying it, and sprinkling with sugar and finely chopped nuts.

Preparation 20 minutes + 2 hours resting
Cooking 20 minutes


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) milk
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) rice bran oil
  • 375 g (13 oz/ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 125 g ( oz/1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 65 g ( oz/½ cup) finely chopped pistachios or walnuts


In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and salt until light and frothy, using an electric mixer. Add the milk and rice bran oil and continue beating until smooth.

Add 150 g ( oz/1 cup) of the flour to the egg mixture, blending thoroughly.

Blend in another 150 g ( oz/1 cup) of the flour.

Sprinkle some of the remaining flour over your work surface, then turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle the dough with more flour and knead for 10 minutes, sprinkling with more flour as needed. The dough will be somewhat sticky, but with a smooth gloss to it. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

When you’re ready to start cooking, pour about 10 cm (4 inches) of vegetable oil into a heavy-based saucepan and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.

Pull off a piece of dough about the size of a large cherry tomato and roll it into a flat 9–10 cm (3½–4 inch) oval. Take one side of the oval and fold it over to the other side, crimping the edges together, so it resembles an elephant’s ear. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Working in batches, add the pastries to the hot oil and cook for 2–5 minutes on each side, until golden, turning to cook them evenly. Remove and drain on paper towel. When cooled, sprinkle with the icing sugar and nuts.

Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container at cool room temperature. The pastries will keep for 3–4 days.