Batates & Zalabya: Oriental Sweets & Treats in Zamalek
Bakeries & Patisseries
Tanya El Kashef
Offering French fries and corn dogs, it’s their zalabya that truly offers something special. Also known as ‘lo’met el ady’ in Cairo – ‘zalabya’ is more associated with Alexandria – the small balls of fried dough, topped with either a honey syrup or powdered sugar, are absolutely divine. With a thick outer shell, the inside is soft and fluffy, without ever drowning in sweetness. We dare you to have just one.
A small container costs 9LE, while a large one will set you back 20LE. It’s nice to get half with the syrup and half topped with sugar for a bit of a variety – the sugar-topped ones are definitely the less sweet of the two. There are also other toppings available such as caramel, chocolate and strawberry sauces (2LE).
The French fries come in one size (7LE) and are crinkly cut, seasoned with herbs – though not overpowered – and you have the choice of topping them with ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and hot sauce. The small toothpicks/forks make them an easy on-the-go snack.
The staff at Batates and Zalabya were friendly and accommodating at the time of our visit. While you wait for your order, it is an enjoyable experience to watch the men at work, specifically preparing the zalabya. Plopping perfectly round, uniform sized balls of dough into the hot oil; watching them turn from a pale beige to a wonderful golden brown, and finally, watching them doused in either the honey or the sugar – yum, yum, yum!
Whether it be for an occasion or just on a night when you’re craving something sweet and wonderful, Batates and Zalabya sticks to basics and serves up a delicious snack that will surely have you going back for more.