Kserotigana, Fried Pastry Ribbons from Crete

A specialty of Chania, Crete, this delicious sweet, is traditionally prepared for weddings and engagements, as well as for Epiphany. It is quite easy to make, but it’s time consuming, so most families have stopped making the sweet at home and order it from one or two specialty stores that prepare it in Chania. This recipe was given to me by Mrs. Hara Papadaki, owner of the last bell foundry in Chania.


Photo by Martin Brigdale, from The Foods of Greece.

Makes about 30

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 – 2/3 cup water
Olive and sunflower oil (half and half), for frying

For the syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup honey
1 cup sugar
Large piece of orange peel
Large piece of lemon peel

1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts and almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the olive oil, lemon juice, and water, little by little, kneading to make a firm dough. Cover and let rest for about 1 hour.

Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour, divide the dough into two or three parts, and roll out to obtain a rectangular sheet of pastry about 1/8-inch thick. Cut 1 1/2 – to 2-inch-wide ribbons that are 10 to 15 inches long.

In a deep skillet or pan, heat about 5 inches of oil to 360º F. Roll the ribbons and pick them with tongs. As you tranfer them to the hot oil, turn the tongs so the ribbons swirl, and deep-fry each one separately until it starts to turn yellow, about 1 minute. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on layers of paper towels.

In a small saucepan, heat the water, honey, and sugar. Add the orange and lemon peel and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat.

Take one fried ribbon at a time, place it on a slotted spoon, and dip briefly in warm syrup. Remove it immediately and sprinkle with the walnuts, almonds, and sesame seeds.


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