A Month in Marrakesh
David Loftus

Traditionally, these honeyed pastries are served during the festival of Ramadan.


Quantity Ingredient
15g dried yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch salt
100ml warm water, plus 2 tablespoons extra
1 teaspoon powdered saffron
100g unsalted butter, melted
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs
150ml orange flower water
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1kg plain flour
800ml clear runny honey
vegetable oil, for frying
150g sesame seeds, toasted, (optional)


  1. Place the yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl with the water. Mix well and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for a further 45 minutes, until the mixture forms bubbles on the surface and has increased in volume.
  2. Place the saffron in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons warm water. Mix the melted butter and olive oil in another bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with orange flower water and vinegar. Add the saffron liquid and butter-oil mixture and whisk again.
  3. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture and mix with your hands, stirring constantly, until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and mix again until the dough is well combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and continue to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding an extra splash of orange flower water if the mixture is too dry.
  4. Divide the dough into six pieces. Roll out one of the dough pieces on a lightly floured surface to an approximately 40cm square then cut it into six 10cm squares. Using a pastry wheel, or a knife, cut each square into five ribbons, but not all the way to the end – make sure that you leave a 1cm strip of pastry uncut at the top end of the square. Place the five ribbons together and roll up tightly, pinching the uncut pastry up at the end with your fingers. Don’t worry if it seems a messy and complicated process – the idea is to get them slightly braided and bunched together when they cook. Transfer the uncooked chebakia to a tray and cover with a cloth. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the honey over a low heat in a saucepan. Put the vegetable oil in a large saucepan to one-third full and heat to 180ºC. Carefully lower the chebakia in batches into the oil and cook for 1–2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and place them in the saucepan of warmed honey. Transfer the chebakia with a slotted spoon to a wire rack, sprinkle with sesame seeds and allow to cool before serving.
North African
A Month in Marrakesh
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