10 deep-fried treats from around the world

By / Food / December 29th, 2016 / 18

If the same old doughnuts don’t float your boat, try one of these deep-fried treats from far afield.

Fánk (Hungary)

A sweet doughnut made from the usual ingredients with one addition: rum. Yes, rum. The final result is an extremely light pastry delicious with powdered sugar and lekvár, a thick Hungarian jam.

Knieküchle (Germany)

Aka “knee fritters.” Legend says bakers stretched the dough over their knees to read love letters while they worked. A bit like a ringed doughnut with a webbed middle, the knieküchle is served with powdered sugar and, in Austria, apricot marmalade.

Koeksister (South Africa)

Koeksisters are made by plaiting two rolls of dough together, deep-frying it and dipping it in cold sugar syrup. Koe’sisters, a slight variation made primarily in Cape Malay, contains cinnamon, aniseed, cardamom and ginger, and is rolled in dried coconut.

Kuih Keria (Malaysia)

These little delights are sold at street vendors in Malaysia and eaten for breakfast or tea. What makes it unique is the sweet potato base and lack of yeast. The dough is formed into rings that are fried and dipped in sugar syrup or rolled in granulated sugar. Yum!

Lihapiirakka (Finland)

The dough is similar to your average doughnut, but instead of jam, it has a minced meat and rice filling. There are three variations: möttönen, a large version; vety, with ham and egg; and atomi, with either ham or egg (not both).

Mekitsas (Bulgaria)

Made with yogurt; after the dough has risen, it’s torn into small pieces, spread into circles and fried in fat. Served with jam, white cheese, honey, yogurt or powdered with icing sugar, they’re enjoyed at breakfast.

Oliebollen (Netherlands/Belgium)

A traditional New Year’s Eve dish in the Netherlands and Belgium, these little spheres include raisins, sultanas, currants, apple slices or candied fruit. “Oliebollen” (Dutch) translates to “oil sphere” and “smoutebollen” (Belgian) means “lard balls”; the former is fried in vegetable oil while the latter is fried in animal fat. (You can try it yourself with this recipe.)

Picarones (Peru)

This recipe developed when Peruvians replaced the more expensive ingredients in buñuelos with squash or sweet potato. The dough is formed and fried, covered with chancaca (solidified molasses) and served with anticuchos.

Sel Roti (Nepal)

This sweet, ring-shaped, rice-based doughnut is made during the Hindu festival Tihar. Its ingredients include rice flour, milk, water, sugar, butter, cardamom, cloves and bananas. It’s poured in a ring over homemade shortening or oil and cooked until light brown on both sides.

Vada (India)

The underlying trait of the many vada variations is a light, fluffy centre encased in a crispy deep-fried skin. Made with black gram (lentils) or Bengal gram (chickpeas), cumin seeds, onion, curry leaves, salt, chilies, black pepper grains or ginger. Vada is most commonly seen on breakfast tables or at Hindu festivals adorning the neck of Hanuman.


A freelance writer and editor, Lisa Hoekstra loves learning and trying new things. She can be found with her nose in a book or multiple tabs open on her browser as she researches the latest and greatest in the world of food, style and everything in between.

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