RECIPE: Zalabya, Middle Eastern Bread with Black Cumin Seeds

black cumin seeds pita paneerOnce you’ve tasted bread baked with spicy black cumin seeds, you’ll reach for more…and more.

Black cumin is often added to breads and crackers in the Middle East, as we noted in our post about black cumin seed. We suggest scattering some of those spicy black seeds over the dough in our recipe for za’atar topped pita, but here is another Middle Eastern favorite bread that has black cumin in the dough.



  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black cumin seeds
  • 1 cup olive oil for the dough
  • 1 tablespoon granulated yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water for the yeast
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil for frying


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water
  2. Combine flour, sesame and black cumin seeds, olive oil, salt and water in a bowl. Mix well. Add more water by tablespoons if needed to make a pliable dough.
  3. Add the dissolved yeast to the batter. Mix well . Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for  30 minutes, or until double its original size.
  4. Take pieces about the size of a large egg out of the dough.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and heat it over a medium flame. Fry the dough, pushing it into a circle with the spatula. When the zalabya is golden-brown on the underside, turn it over and fry till all is the same golden-brown color.
  6. Add more olive oil as needed. Serve the zalabya hot.


More Middle-Eastern Recipes from Green Prophet:

Photo of pita sandwich by norwichnuts via Flickr.

Original recipe by Ultravioleet Jordan.

Miriam Kresh writes a food blog:

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4 thoughts on “RECIPE: Zalabya, Middle Eastern Bread with Black Cumin Seeds”

  1. Michael says:

    Well i made this recipe exactly as it is written here, they came out looking exactly like the picture show, golden brown and toasty warm. But they tasted like dung, i mean terrible. Maybe it is just one of those recipes that you have to grow up eating to like it. Wasted 4 cups of perfectly good flour and a cup of fine olive oil if you ask me

    1. Miriam Kresh says:

      Never having eaten dung, I can’t tell you what might have gone wrong with your bread, Michael.

  2. Ilana-Davita says:

    I wonder whether I’d be able to find black cumin here. It is probably possible in Paris.

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