May 15th, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Libya in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, May 19, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

Fried dough is arguably a universal language. There are about as many ways to enjoy sfinz - a spongy, light (albeit fried) pastry eaten across the Middle East and North Africa - as there are variations and even spellings.

In Libya, it's sfinz. In Morocco, it's sfenj. In Tunisia, yoyos; and in Italy, sfinge. (Leptis Magna, on the coast of Libya, was once a highly prominent city of the Roman Empire; it's also an UNESCO World Heritage site.)

This week, Anthony Bourdain travels to the North African country that is still trying to find its footing after long-term ruler Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown by an uprising in 2011.

"Revolution has brought changed tastes. Libyans, especially young Libyans, hunger for more than just freedom," said Bourdain before visiting Uncle Kentaki, an obvious knock-off of KFC. (American fast food franchises did not exist under Gadhafi's regime.)

During his travels in Tripoli, Bourdain enjoys the aforementioned Libyan breakfast delicacy of sfinz. In the below variation, an egg dough is leavened with baking powder instead of yeast.

Crack an egg into it while it fries for a savory breakfast, or dip it in warm honey if you're feeling like something sweet.


Sfinz (sometimes written as "sfenz")
Adapted from recipe courtesy of Vivienne Roumani-Denn

2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp water
Canola oil for deep-frying
Optional: Extra egg for topping

Mix all ingredients (except the canola oil and extra egg) together and knead into a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Add more flour if the dough is very sticky. (Lightly oil your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them as you work.)

Form the dough into ball, then work and flatten it like a pizza crust into the shape of a plate (the edges should be slightly thicker than the center, about 1/2-inch).

Heat the canola oil over moderate heat until it is hot, then reduce heat to low. Carefully add the dough to the oil and fry until golden on both sides and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.* Transfer with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain. If desired, drizzle with honey while still hot.

*To make an egg sfinz, flip the dough in the oil after the center rises. Crack an egg into the middle; spoon hot oil over the egg with a metal spoon to set and cook until golden-brown.

soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Safia

    I'm a Libyan girl from Benghazi there are many ways to make sfinz, this is another way make it by making this dough or plane normal dough deep fraying it then putting honey on top or sugar it's really good
    And try it with Arabic coffe or red tea

    June 16, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  2. Mohammad Q

    Please find sfinz and many more libyan delicacies at this website: enjoy.

    May 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  3. Annie

    Isn't that egg I see on Anthony bourdain's face??

    May 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Annie Can Suck On It Like The God Time Gal She is

      Lets match your bank account to his and see who should shut up first. You.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  4. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    A fried flattened biscuit with an egg on top?

    May 19, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  5. Rick Winquest

    It'll make a turd.

    May 19, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  6. rs1201

    these are called beignets in New Orleans...they're sprinkled with powdered sugar and they're delicious...once a month.

    May 19, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Dumbo

      That's a completely different thing.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  7. lolwut

    What difference, at this point, does fried dough make??

    May 19, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • curt

      Fried dough.. Boring and simple...
      Sounds like it would taste very bland.

      Putting an egg on top doesn't make it any more appetizing.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:01 am |
      • curt

        +1 for being a cheap breakfast, one that maybe most Americans could afford. -1 for being something I'd rather not eat.

        May 19, 2013 at 4:04 am |
  8. Mion

    My Italian grandmother was born and raised in Libya. She sometimes makes this for my sister and I and I actually didn't know the name of it (sfinz) until now. She'll sprinkle sugar on top after and sometimes drizzle some honey on it, and it's freaking delicious.

    If you don't want to go through the trouble of making the dough, you can probably use regular dough. The Publix bakery near my house sells some bags of freshly-made pizza dough, and my grandma usually just uses that instead.

    May 18, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • Hummm

      An Italian born and raised in Libya is considered a Libyan ... To be Italian, one must be born and raised in this place called Italy...

      May 19, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • mel

        so, wait, let me get this straight: you can't be Italian and born and raised in Libya? Does that mean you can't be Italian and born and raised in the USA? Who and what, then, are all of these Italian-Americans I've heard so much about? Moron.

        May 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
      • JimVA

        Try to educate yourself. Italian citizenship is based on blood, not birthplace. If you were born of parents who are Italian citizens, Italy will issue you a certificate of citizenship. Here in the US, you are a US citizen by place of birth, not blood. Look it up. Almost all Italian-Americans today were born here, and if your parents or grandparents were Italian citizens they renounced their citizenship when they became naturalized (like my grandparents).

        May 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
      • Rabs

        you are a moron. shes still italian but just not a citizen of italy.

        May 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  9. Otis

    That looks very good. Think I'll try it tomorrow morning for Sunday breakfast.

    May 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  10. Meki60

    gag me with a spoon

    May 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  11. Majav

    Wow! That's appetizing! A pic of Gadhafi rubble and a cow pie of an eggy version of a flattened dutch oven.
    What a great idea. Watch TV and lose weight- The Bourdain Diet.

    He looks toxic as in too much booze and salty foods. Why not a juice fast and high colonics?

    Parts Unknown? Is really a bad name. It's like eating bugs in the back alleys of Bangkok, except in Libya it might be
    body parts of any number of species. What's in a Benghazi souffle anyway?

    Bourdain is as overdone as that egg and as attractive too.

    Yes, CNN ruins people. They've over sold him just like they've over sold Richard Quest, Piers Morgan, and Christiane Amanpour. She was wise enough, and good enough, to move on. But it might take some time to wash away the CNN dust.

    Too bad they can't sell the news instead of personalities and cooking shows. At least they didn't ruin the career of Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee. Not yet anyway.

    Talk about semi-homemade- That should be on Bourdain's CNN tombstone when they decide to finally ax him and his faux pretentious program. Old people should not be full of themselves. If you are trying to be Mr French, hint: Silence is golden. Let the food talk for itself. Yes, that egg thing unfortunately represents the current situation in Libya. With so much exquisite food in Morocco and the southern Med- is that the best you can do? It's like featuring a sausage and egg muffin at Circle K zapped to long on microwave high.

    I saw that fish dish too somewhere with the rug dealer laughing at penguins (who prefer not to be pilfered) . The portion size was actually wise for the calorie conscious, but it did make it seem that the region is half starving. Is it? Then perhaps its best not to feature the North Africa as if everything is normal. Bourdain diplomacy?

    At least that's harmless enough I suppose. He sure makes a better spy than Fogle. He looks seedy and nefarious.

    Next assignment: Moscow. Find an old commie cafeteria and feature espionage foods. Bourdain wouldn't look half bad in a blonde wig pushing pirozhki laced with microfilm and dioxin . Why not some Leslie Stahl lip jam? Now that is Parts Unknown. Why did she do that???

    And PLEASE DO NOT TALK WITH FOOD IN YOUR MOUTH! Too classy for words!

    I do have a suggestion though. Replace Piers Morgan with Bourdain. And then give Morgan his own cook-the-books show co-hosted with Rebekah Brooks. Morgan would make a fine transgender rendition of Julia Child. Loosen up Piers- hit the sherry like Julia did and your personality might ferment nicely instead of turn to pinched vinegar.
    (Any news of the world bones to pick? When is your mentor Murdoch gonna grace your prime time?)

    Come to think of it, Dicky Quest looks an awful lot like the Galloping Gourmet.

    Sorry kids, a British accent does not make for fine cuisine, just forgettable CNN hosts.

    May 18, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Johnnyribcage

      Wow dude, are you kidding me? Sounds like you have some issues beyond not liking CNN and Anthony Bourdain. It's just a travel/eating show. You should read what you wrote there and ask if the topic deserves even a tenth that much passion.

      May 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • jY

      Its not your accent mate, its your crazy thoughts in print or probably spoken word that scare people away from you.

      May 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Steven B.

      You've some serious mental problems and need to seek professional counseling.

      Seriously, you sound as though you could hurt yourself or others.

      May 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Steve

      Wow. My thoughts excactly. I couldn't have spent the time to write them as well as you.

      May 18, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • nightwriter

      Everyone's laughing at you Maj ... you sound like a petty little schoolgirl throwing a tantrum. Why don't you put your energies into trying to improve yourself instead of whining about every one else.

      May 18, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Dave

      You sound like the kind of person I would like to spend the whole afternoon listening to and having beers with, my treat of course. I would feel so uplifted afterward I would probably want to cut my wrists open with a rusty spoon.

      May 18, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Dave

      You spent so much time complaining about how Bourdain looks, that I think there may be a mancrush here. Admit it. And since when does the way someone looks have any bearing on their legitimacy?

      May 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Your Panties in Texas

      I am deeply in love with Christiane Amanpour.

      May 19, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Sas about toxic!!!!!

      May 19, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • John Smith

      Whoa- c'mon man, put the gun down, s-l-o-w-l-y. Now go get some help

      May 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Tom

      You are an idiot.

      May 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dumbo

      You may want to get a hold of your psychologist. Something's loose in there.

      May 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • josh r

      Quite sure he was flying on speed or meth when he wrote that.

      September 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  12. UncleBuck

    Bourdain's show has been sucking real bad since he moved to cnn

    May 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  13. Elmer P.

    I saw Bourdain at our McDonalds recently, polishing off his 3rd McGriddle and hash browns. Was not a pretty scene at all; piles of greasy wrappers and a leaky bag.

    Really can't stand Bourdain and his condescending attitude, but I can see where some people get off on his programs.

    May 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Yourmom

    This guy is trying too hard to be an "A"-lister....and you're right Arthur in the Garden, he's a snob.

    May 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Leonard

      He used to call folks with shows like he has done lately "sellouts".

      May 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Vectorboy

      Recovering crackheads can only be so snobby. I like his shows, "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown". I like seeing what countries and their food are like beyond the ubiquitous KFC franchises that have polluted the planet.

      May 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  15. Adam L.

    I just tried this recipe, with the egg option. I wanted some breakfast, but didn't feel like having the typical eggs and toast. It looked tasty in the picture, so I thought – what the hell!

    So my feedback on the recipe – when it says "lightly oil your hands", what it really means is "oil the hell out of your hands". This stuff is STICKY! I had to add a bit more flour like the recipe hints. Also, when you're flattening this out, make sure your surface is lightly floured too, or this thing will stick to it. Make it fairly thin. I made the mistake of not flattening it out enough. Gently place it in the oil, starting with one end and laying it down slowly. It will rise a LOT, which is why it needs to be flattened pretty good. Use tongs to flip it so oil doesn't splash everywhere. Also if you use the egg in the middle while cooking, be careful as the egg can puff up and spatter oil everywhere.

    Mine wound up being kinda doughy in the middle because I didn't flatten it enough. It's a pretty thick bread, akin to a biscuit but a bit lighter. If I had made mine thinner so it cooked all the way through, I think it would have been a LOT better. As it stands it's pretty good, slightly sweet due to the sugar, but a welcome change from a typical American breakfast.

    May 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • John Smith

      Thanks Adam- I will give it a go and follow your suggestions. I wonder what it would be like with diced peppers and cheese inside? I think I will try it that way.

      May 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  16. Lycius84

    "...visiting Uncle Kentaki, an obvious knock-off of KFC." Well, it may be a knock off, but clearly on the picture posted I can see the Colonel's face. Unless the picture shown is a fake photoshopped to please our eyes.

    May 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • peter

      That's not photoshop, that's a 3rd world countries for ya, I've seen the golden arches hand painted a sign of a kebab stand over seas, they don't care about all that trademark and copyright stuff, no one will enforce it.

      May 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  17. Muhammad Ali

    yeh , sfinz is a well known anytime of the day food for us Libyans ,, and for launch we have what we call " Bazeen " it's a dish for a special event like a family gathering or a 1 time in a week ..

    May 16, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  18. hambon

    Tony, you trying to make some bread? The recipe is way off. No eggs, no olive oil, no baking powder in the dough. It's just flour, yeast and water. Egg optional cracked into it while frying.

    May 16, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • huh

      lol what? no hes not trying to make bread, did you read the title of the recipe?

      May 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
      • dixkweed

        Your Sarcasm detector seems to be off

        July 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  19. Arthur in the Garden!

    I don't much care for his attitude.

    May 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
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