Alternative names Loukoumades, Loukmades, Luqmat, loukmat alkady, Zalabyieh
Type Fried dough
Place of origin Baghdad
Main ingredients Dough
Variations Sugar syrup, honey, cinnamon, chocolate syrup
Cookbook: Lokma  Media: Lokma

Lokma (Turkish), Loqma (Arabic: لقمة, plural لقيمات, Luqaimat), Loukoumades (Greek: λουκουμάδες, singular λουκουμάς, loukoumas), or Bāmiyeh (Persian: بامیه)—see etymology below—are pastries made of deep fried dough soaked in syrup, chocolate sauce or honey, with cinnamon and sometimes sprinkled with sesame or grated walnuts.[1] The common ancestor of Lokma varieties originates in Ottoman Empire. Lokma was also called لقمة القاضي luqmat al-qādi (judge's Lokma or judge's mouthful) it was described by al-Baghdadi in the 13th century[2].


Lokma means "mouthful" or "morsel", from Arabic لقمة luqma (plural luqmāt).[3]

Regional varieties

Ancient Greek enkrides

A dish very similar to lokma is described by Archestratus, a Greek poet from Sicily, was enkris (Greek: ἐγκρίς, plural ἐγκρίδες)—a dough-ball fried in olive oil, which he details in his Gastronomy; a work now lost, but partially preserved in the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus, which mentions enkris thirteen times, in various inflected forms.[4] The most complete description of it in the Deipnosophists is a passage that reads:

πεμμάτιον ἑψόμενον ἐν ἐλαίῳ καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο μελιτούμενον, μνημονεύει αὐτῶν Στησίχορος διὰ τούτων

χόνδρον τε καὶ ἐγκρίδας ἄλλα τε πέμματα καὶ μέλι χλωρόν.

There are cakes, also, called ἐγκρίδες. These are cakes boiled in oil, and after that seasoned with honey; and they are mentioned by Stesichorus in the following lines:—

Groats and encrides, And other cakes, and fresh sweet honey.[5]

It is also mentioned in preserved fragments of Aristophanes's Danaids and Pherecrates's Crapataloi,[6] Stesichorus, and Antiphon[7]

This word is also used in the Greek Septuagint to describe the manna eaten by the Israelites in the Book of Exodus

καὶ ἐπωνόμασαν οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Μαν ἦν δὲ ὡς σπέρμα κορίου λευκόν τὸ δὲ γεῦμα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἐγκρὶς ἐν μέλιτι

And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.[8]

And also in the Book of Numbers,

«καὶ διεπορεύετο ὁ λαὸς καὶ συνέλεγον καὶ ἤληθον αὐτὸ ἐν τῷ μύλῳ καὶ ἔτριβον ἐν τῇ θυΐᾳ καὶ ἥψουν αὐτὸ ἐν τῇ χύτρᾳ καὶ ἐποίουν αὐτὸ ἐγκρυφίας, καὶ ἦν ἡ ἡδονὴ αὐτοῦ ὡσεὶ γεῦμα ἐγκρὶς ἐξ ἐλαίου»

And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.[9]

Also, there may be a connection to the ritual feeding of the victors at ancient Olympia. Aristotle and other ancient writers refer to kharisioi plakoi or plakonta (χαρίσιοι πλάκοι, πλακούντα), translated as "(thanksgiving) cakes or "(gift) cakes".[10] These were offered to the victorious athletes in a highly ritualized ceremony along with the kotinos wreath. No recipe survives.

A fragment from Callimachus[11] has been used to argue the supposed antiquity of lokum and a connection to the ancient Olympics by, among others, The Washington Post.[12] Various assertions have also been made regarding ompne (Ancient Greek: ὄμπνη) in the text means, in the plural form, "sacrificial cakes made of grain and honey". Other sacrificial cakes, often called popanon (Ancient Greek: πόπανον) being ancestral to loukoumades; however, the only thing that is clear about them is that they were made from grain and honey.


Boortsog, called pişi or tuzlu lokma (sour lokma) in Turkish, which is Lokma without any sweet syrup or honey, is a staple food for Turkic and Mongolian cuisines. Lokma in the form of a dessert is made with flour, sugar, yeast and salt, fried in oil and later bathed in syrup or honey. Lokma is first described as part of Turkish cuisine in the 9th century Kara-Khanid Khanate.[13] It was cooked by palace cooks in the Ottoman Empire for centuries and spread to the cuisines of the former countries of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, Middle East and the Caucasus. While in the former Ottoman countries such as Iraq and Greece it is an ordinary dessert, it has a ceremonial meaning in Turkey and is generally not consumed as an everyday dessert. Traditionally 40 days after someone passes away, close relatives and/or friends of the deceased cook Lokma in large quantities and serve to neighbours and passersby. People form queues to get a plate and recite a prayer for the soul of the deceased in return after eating the Lokma.

Greece and Cyprus

Lokma in Greece and Cyprus, called Loukoumades, are commonly spiced with cinnamon in a honey syrup and can be sprinkled lightly with powdered sugar. The exact recipe for Lokma has evolved over many centuries; however, it is a traditional Greek dessert with roots in deep antiquity, a number of ancient honey-cakes are described above which most likely constitute the origin of Lokma, whose present name is borrowed from Turkish. The ancient recipes were inherited via the Byzantine empire and passed on to the occupied countries of the Ottoman empire, corresponding to where Lokma are found today. The candidate most frequently mentioned as being prepared with hot oil is enkrides, which is described above along with other postulated ancestral honey-cakes. Lokum is called sfingi (σφίνγοι) by the Greek Jews, who make them as Hanukkah treats.[14] The tradition is claimed to have been originated by the Romaniotes.

Other regions

Various other kinds of fried dough with syrup are found in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and South Asia, from the Italian struffoli (the most similar in preparation to lokma) and zeppole to the Indian and Pakistani jalebi and gulab jamun. A version called لقمة القاضي luqmat al-qādi (judge's Lokma or judge's mouthful) was described by al-Baghdadi in the 13th century[15] and continues to be made in Arab countries. Perhaps the oldest documentation of a related but not identical dish is in the tomb of Ramses IV, where something more like jalebi is shown being prepared. Later, the Ancient Greek enchytoi consisted of a cheese-and-flour dough squeezed into hot fat, then covered with honey.[16]

See also


  1. "Greek honey balls (loukoumades)".
  2. Oxford Companion to Food; Charles Perry, A Baghdad Cookery Book, 2006. ISBN 1-903018-42-0.
  3. Diran Kélékian, Dictionnaire Turc-Français (Ottoman Turkish), 1911
  4. Perseus Project "Word frequency information for ἐγκρίς", available at: perseus.tufts.edu, retrieved 27 June 2015
  5. Athenaeus. The Deipnosophists. with an English Translation by. Charles Burton Gulick Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University Press. London. William Heinemann Ltd. 1927.
  6. ταῦτ᾿ ἔχων ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς ἁρπαζέτω τὰς ἐγκρίδας, Holding these let him snatch the honey cakes in the streets.Pherecrates. "Pherecrates, Tiddlers, Fragments". Retrieved 25 June 2015.   via digital Loeb Classical Library (subscription required)
  7. Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940. , "ἐγκρίς , ίδος, ἡ,"
  8. Η Παλαιά Διαθήκη, Alfred Rahlfs Critical Edition, 1935; King James Version translation, Exodus 16:31
  9. Η Παλαιά Διαθήκη, Alfred Rahlfs Critical Edition, 1935; King James Version translation, Numbers 11:8
  10. Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940. , "χαρίσιος"
  11. "Callimachus, Fragments of Uncertain Location". www.loebclassics.com. doi:10.4159/DLCL.callimachus-fragments_uncertain_location.1973.
  12. Kristin and Marianne Kyriakos, "An Olympic 'Honey Token' Fest: Watch the Games with a Dozen Guests", The Washington Post, Sunday, August 22, 2004; p. M07.
  13. Ahmed Cavid, Tercüme-i Kenzü'l-İştiha, eds. Seyit Ali Kahraman, Priscilla Mary Işın, İstanbul:Kitap Yayınevi, 2006, 22, 98
  14. Canadian Embassy in Greece, The Jewish Musueum of Greece, The City of Ioannina and the Jewish Community of Ioannina, Ioannina Jewish Legacy Project, «Χάνουκα», accessed 30 June 2015
  15. Oxford Companion to Food; Charles Perry, A Baghdad Cookery Book, 2006. ISBN 1-903018-42-0.
  16. Eugenia Ricotti, Prina Ricotti, Meals and Recipes from Ancient Greece, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007, ISBN 0892368764, p. 108

Further reading

  • A.D. Alderson and Fahir İz, The Concise Oxford Turkish Dictionary, 1959. ISBN 0-19-864109-5
  • Γ. Μπαμπινιώτης (Babiniotis), Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας, Athens, 1998
  • Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. jalebi.
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