Znood al-sit (زنود الست) does not translate too prettily into English.Znood are the upper arms, Sit is lady, so znood al-sit is an homage to plump ladies upper arms.
For simplicity’s sake, it is commonly (and wrongly) translated to Arabic ladies fingers.
So what are these curious little pastry desserts?
They are nothing but pastry, stuffed with qishta, geimar, or clotted cream, fried, and dunked in sugar syrup.
A kind reader sent me an email requesting the recipe, so here it is.
Note that you can replace the qeemar filling with (a sugarless version) milk-cornstarch filling, as is the filling for mafrooka.
We generally only make them in the holy month Ramadan, since they are a shockingly addictive treat.
I dare you to eat only one.
750g qishta or gaimar or clotted cream
500g packet of filo pastry
2 cups oil, for frying
sprinkling ground pistachio, to serve
For the sheera (sugar syrup):
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp orange blossom water
Make the sugar syrup first to give it time to cool completely by the time the znood are done.
Bring the sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil.
Reduce to a low boil and simmer uncovered 10 to 12 minutes until thickened when tested on a cold saucer.
Remove from heat, stir in the orange blossom, set aside to cool completely.
To make the znood,
Cut the filo pastry lengthwise into roughly 10 centimeter wide strips.
Place a teaspoon of the qishta or geimar or clotted cream on one end of a strip.
Fold over the sides of the strip towards the inside, then roll the strip to envelope the cream filling.
Fry the rolls in hot oil until golden and crispy.
Using a slotted spoon, drain the cooked znood from the hot oil, letting excess oil fall back into the pot or pan.
Immediately dunk the znood for about 2 minutes in a bowl containing the cooled sugar syrup.
Using a slotted spoon again, drain from excess syrup and place in the serving dish.
Decorate simply with powdered pistachio nuts.
The znood al-sit are best consumed as close to frying as possible, to retain the outside crunch and luscious inside. Delay in consumption (like the next day) will result in soggy znood.