Sometimes, the best discoveries are off the beaten path. It was a sweltering day in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, and I was with a tour group exploring the architecture of gorgeous limestone homes in the middle of their downtown. One of my uncles in the group motioned me to a corner shop, where this intoxicating yeasty sugary scent wafted out of their front door. Inside I saw a man, scarf on his head, pulling out a tray of fresh fritters waited to be dusted with powdered sugar. There were several trays just covered with the pastry, and I couldn’t take out my money fast enough to buy some.
I hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning, the clock was about to strike noon, and this pastry was going to be my first bite of the day. And it was glorious! The yeasty dough was crispy and crunchy outside, filled with a warm pudding inside, and just the right amount of delicate sweetness from the sugar. I literally inhaled these two fritters you see in the above photo. Turns out this delicacy is called Tamriyeh, a treat the older generations in my family enjoyed from vendors in the street after Sunday services–sort of like the doughnuts they serve after mass here in the States. But these are less like doughnuts, and more like Louisianna style beignets, only they have a filling in the middle called eshta. Eshta is a lightly sweetened pudding made with farina or semolina. This extra filling makes these hearty fritters more satisfying than doughnuts.
After that trip, I pretty much gave up on trying to recreate these fritters at home, because my mother never made them, and I didn’t see any viable recipes online. I knew it would be quite difficult to recreate such a thin and delicate dough. That is until I visited my mother-in-law, who surprised us the tamriyeh using her own shortcut: eggroll wrappers!
The filling was so basic and easy it required only 3 ingredients, farina, water and powdered sugar. Now you can add some flavor twists to the filling if you like. For instance, you can add cinnamon or a dash of rose water to the farina mixture. You can even substitute with almond paste for a more decadent treat. For this recipe I just stuck to the traditional way, and the results came out pretty close to the original.
To see the easy folding technique and hear the story of my mother-in-law’s favorite memory of Palestinian Tamriyeh, click on the video below:
- 1 PACKAGE EGG ROLL WRAPS
- 2 CUPS FARINA OR CREAM OF WHEAT
- 1/2 CUP POWDERED SUGAR FOR DUSTING
- 2 CUPS WATER
- 2 CUPS AVOCADO OIL (or whatever frying oil you prefer)
- POWDERED SUGAR FOR DUSTING
Combine the water, farina, and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a saucepan, stir and wait until it boils. Then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it gets very thick. You can store in the refrigerator to make it easy to spoon into the fritters. When ready, fold a heaping tablespoon of the farina mixture into each egg roll wrapper. Fold each corner in. In a fryer, heat the avocado oil, check with a drop of water to see if the oil is hot enough. If you hear the oil crackle it is ready. Fry one to two of the fritters at a time until golden brown, turning over once so both sides get browned. Then place on a paper towel and sift powdered sugar over them. Eat right away!