Traditionally, when the Christians in Lebanon celebrate Epiphany, they eat and serve different varieties of fritters. Last year, I talked about O’wwamat /Lebanese Doughnuts (see recipe). This time, my recipe is about Ma’croon /Lebanese Fritters with Aniseed.
Ma’croon can be made with flour or semolina or both combined. The main flavouring ingredient is aniseed that gives it a festive aroma. It is very simple to make and is suitable for all eating habits. These are usually deep-fried then dipped straight into the sugar syrup, however, if you don’t like them too sweet, dip and then remove quickly. Ma’croon need the sugar syrup but you can alter the amount by reducing or prolonging the soaking time. I make my Ma’croon with both: flour and semolina because I like that bit of crunchiness created by the semolina. Ma’croon are best eaten when freshly made, like other fritters, they don’t keep for long.
Makes about 25 (roughly 6-7cm / 2½ inches long)
- 1 quantity of sugar syrup/ Ater (see recipe)
- 150 g / 5oz fine semolina
- 75 g/ 3oz flour
- ¼ tsp easy blend yeast
- 1 tbsp ground aniseed
- ¼ tsp Mahlab (optional, see glossary)
- About 120 ml/ 4fl oz warmish water
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil to make the dough and enough vegetable oil to deep fry
- Sift the flour into a large bowl then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Rub the oil into the mixture, then, gradually add the water mixing and kneading with your hands or dough mixer until you have a firm dough that you can roll. Cover with an oiled clingfilm and leave it at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile, you could prepare the sugar syrup/ Ater.
- Shape the dough into a long roll (roughly ½ cm diameter) then cut it into pieces, (depending how small or big you want the fritters), the ones in this recipe are about 6 cm / 2½ inches long, therefore, I divided the roll into 25 pieces. Now, take one piece at a time and roll it on a marble or between your hands and give it the shape of a sausage or a plump date. Next, press this down onto a perforated surface like the cheese grater, or a colander with a large mesh (see picture) or any equivalent, to give a dimpled effect. Roll the piece with your fingers towards you so could achieve a dimpled pattern (see picture), place it on the plate and cover with a tea towel to prevent the Ma’croon from drying out, continue likewise with the rest until you finish all the pieces.
- Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan and when it is hot enough (enough for a small cube of bread to crisp in 1 minute), drop in as many pieces as the frying pan can safely take, allowing them to float around without being squashed, you may need to do that in batches. Fry, turning the fritters until they are golden, this should take about three or four minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil by placing them briefly onto kitchen paper, then transfer them while still hot into the pan containing the warm sugar syrup/ Ater. The Ma’croon need the sugar syrup but you can alter the sweetness by reducing or prolonging the soaking time.
- Remove from the sugar syrup with a slotted spoon onto a serving plate and eat at once.