Petulla, the Albanian version of fried dough, was a childhood favorite of Petrit Husenaj. He shares his mother’s sweet and savory recipe. Read more of his posts at My Social Chef.
Many parents pass down the same traditions to their children as their parents did to them. These traditions range from the meaningful (a piece of jewelry worn on your wedding day) to the absurd (putting garlic in your underwear to ward off the evil eye).
As we mature into adults, we may cast aside some of these traditions. But there is one that persists: food. The smell of a dish can bring you right back to amazing memories of your youth.
Growing up, I remember my mother teaching my sisters how to cook traditional Albanian food. It was kind of like her prep school for being a good wife. They listened, learned, and tried their best. One of my sisters forgot everything she learned because she moved in with her husband’s family right after marriage and let her mother-in-law handle the cooking, and my other sister didn’t get married until she was the ripe old age of 28. My poor mother wasted countless hours of her life training them.
I have particularly fond memories of my mother making petulla. It’s very similar to the Italian version of fried dough. You can eat it with powdered sugar, but my favorite is with feta cheese and raspberry jam or fresh raspberries. I asked my sisters how to make it but neither remembered. One sister uses store bought pizza dough to save time. Luckily, my mother is close by and she was able to pass on the recipe for this delicious sweet and savory dish.
Petulla 2 Teaspoons Yeast 1/4 Cup Warm Water 1 Cup Milk 2 Eggs 1 Tablespoon Sugar Pinch of Salt 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla 2 1/2 Cups Flour Vegetable Oil
Combine the water and yeast in a bowl and let sit for five minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients except for the flour and oil. Once combined, add in the flour in batches, mixing the dough in between. Once fully mixed, cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rest for two hours.
Fill a large pot halfway up with the vegetable oil and heat until it reaches 350 degrees. With a large spoon, scoop out some dough and drop it in the hot oil. Repeat until you have 4 to 6 dough balls in the pot and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Once nice and brown, remove and place on paper towels to let drain. Serve with powdered sugar or feta cheese and raspberry jam.
Petrit Husenaj is a writer based in New York City and the creator of the food blog My Social Chef.