Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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zalabiya is an ancient pastry that has been spelled in a number of ways in Iran and neighboring regions: zalībiyā, zolūbiyā, zolbiyā, zulābiyyah, and, in India, jalebi or jilebi. Its meaning has drifted in several directions as well.

The oldest recipes appear in a tenth-century Baghdad recipe collection called Kitāb al-Ţabīkh. See baghdad. Some are for frying shaped pieces of leavened dough, and one is for a leavened cake baked in a tandoor oven. But the chief variety, also known as mushabbak (lattice), has been one of the most popular Middle Eastern and Indian pastries ever since. See india and middle east. It remains one of the favorite sweets served at Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. See islam and ramadan.