Ramadan recipes: Marwa Alkhalaf’s zulubia with yoghurt mousse, sour cherry and spiced rose sugar
London is worse off not to have the influence of Marwa Alkhalaf, the chef-founder of the now-closed modern Iranian restaurant Nutshell.
Hers was a nuanced restaurant of rare individuality, but the restaurant game is tough, and between the pandemic and the energy-crisis and all the rest, Nutshell sadly shut. Alkhalaf has kept a very low profile since, but back in 2021 she shared one of her favourite sweet dishes for iftar.
“I am from Saudi [Arabia] and my husband is from Iran and both countries have communities where the month of Ramadan is observed. Food, understandably, plays such a central part of the month,” she told us at the time.
“This recipe celebrates the use of fruits, which are enjoyed to replenish sugars and are high in energy, as well as spices for the soothing qualities and yoghurt which is important to balance the gut.”
Zulubia with yoghurt mousse, sour cherry and spiced rose sugar
150g Greek yoghurt
100ml double cream
25g caster sugar
1-2 tbsp sour cherry jam, or any jam you like
Whisk the cream and sugar, then fold into the yoghurt. Swirl the jam into this yoghurt mousse.
50g icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp rose powder
Mix all the ingredients together and set it aside.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
2 tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
Crush the saffron and infuse it in the water. Mix in the yeast and set it aside to activate, then add the yoghurt and mix it.
Mix the flour, corn flour and salt. Add the wet ingredients and mix properly. The mix should be thick like a pancake batter; if not, adjust the water and flour if needed.
Cover it and set it aside for half an hour.
Pour the mix into a squeezy bottle or a piping bag. If you are using a piping bag, use a ½ cm nozzle.
In a heavy bottom pan, pour oil until its about an inch deep, and heat it to around 180 degrees. Pipe the batter into a three-inch swirl or a similar shape to a fennel cake.
Fry until golden then place on a rack to dry.
Finally, sprinkle the zulubia with the spiced icing sugar and serve with the sweet yoghurt mousse on the side.