Lokma (Loukoumades) – Syrup doused tiny doughnuts, fried to perfection


When wandering the streets of Turkey, some pastry shops will have a small booth where someone is frying tiny balls of dough that get tossed in syrup as soon as they reach a golden-brown color. They are sold in small bowls, and with the help of a toothpick it can be eaten on the go. Like helva, lokma has a place in Turkish culture and is frequently served at funerals. So don’t be surprised if you see people lining up in front of a mosque to get themselves a few pieces of the syrupy goodness.

What is Lokma (Loukoumades)?

Lokma is made out of dough, and sometimes with a variety of cheeses, that is rolled into small balls and fried until it becomes a golden-brown color. They are then soaked in syrup and served immediately. Its outer shell is usually crunchy, while the inside remaining soft.

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The origins

The earliest recipes of lokma, which was then known as “luqmat al-qadi,” meaning judge’s morsels, can be found in 13th century Arabic cookbooks. They were discovered by the Ottomans and caught on quickly. (1)
The Ottoman Empire is known to have had lavish feasts in which they did not skimp on the desserts. One such early example is a “sünnet (circumcision) feast” in 1539, where a total of 53 different desserts were served. One dessert alone, helva, had 15 variations and was served alongside lokma as well. (2)
Lokma is present in history books written throughout the centuries, never requiring in depth explanations for its simplicity: fried dough. The treat has emerged in many cultures around the world in several own variations.
Among its variations is a kind that is mixed with cheese, considered a specialty in the Aegean region and called “peynir lokması.” It is listed in an 18th century Ottoman cookery manual. (1)
The size of a lokma is usually about the size of a golf ball, a dimension that hasn’t changed much for centuries, as the Ottoman court manuals say that each lokma should be one teaspoon of dough apiece. (3)


The dish was originally called “luqmat al-qadi,” meaning judge’s morsels in Arabic, but due to the lazy nature of humanity it got shortened through time to “luqma,” which in Turkish became lokma. The Greek version “loukoumades” or “loukmades” stems from the Turkish. Lokma to this day still means morsel or bite.

Lokma - syrup doused tiny doughnuts, fried to perfection

Servings 20 portions
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins


  • 500 ml warm water + 500 ml water
  • 550 gr flour
  • 20 gr yeast (fresh)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 450 gr sugar
  • 1 slice of lemon
  • oil, for frying


  • Mix water and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for five minutes, add the lemon slice and let it cool off.
  • Put the yeast in a bowl and add warm water and sugar, and stir until there are no clumps left. Gradually add the flour and mix until you get a dough that is still sticky but not runny. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour.
  • Heat a pan with oil. Scoop up the dough with a greased spoon, a tablespoon for larger pieces or a teaspoon for the Ottoman way. Carefully add the balls to the hot oil. Let them fry until they get a golden-brown color and then drop them into the syrup for 20-30 seconds and serve.


Note: Excluding wait time for dough rising (1  hour)


(1) Priscilla Mary Işın, “Bountiful Empire: A History of Ottoman Cuisine”, 2018
(2) Marianna Yerasimos, “500 Yıllık Osmanlı Mutfağı”, 2002
(3) Peter Heine, Peter Lewis, “The Culinary Crescent: A History of Middle Eastern Cuisine”, 2018
Course: Dessert