Reprinted with permission from Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic (Hippocrene Books).
In Libya, this was one of the many popular sweets.
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 cups sugar
2 1/2-3 cups all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the baking soda and 2 1/2 cups of flour, mixing well to form a firm dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
Sprinkle a little flour over a work surface or pastry board and the rolling pin. Separate the dough into 5 pieces and roll out each piece in paper-thin strips.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan.
Cut the large strips into strips two-inches wide and about 12-inches long, and prick the dough with a fork. Carefully begin wrapping the strip around the prong of a wide two-prong fork while frying it. This forms a “rose.” Keep rolling (or coiling) it around itself as it fries and fry until lightly browned. Remove from the oil and drain in paper-towel lined colander.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Prepare the syrup by combining the sugar, 1 1/2 cups of water, lemon juice, orange-flower water, and vanilla together in a pan. Just cover the mixture with water and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to thicken the syrup. Stir and remove from the heat.
Use immediately or set aside for later use.
Dip the debla into the heated syrup, soaking it well, and drain in a colander. If the syrup becomes too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of warm water.
Place the debla on a platter and serve.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.