What Doughnuts Look Like In Other Countries, Because Everyone In The World Loves Fried Dough

There's no doubting America's love affair with doughnuts, but this dessert du jour has won hearts the world over. Its worldwide presence is indisputable, even if the rotund pastry takes on varying forms in its foreign locales, and its universal appeal is not surprising — after all, who can argue with oft-glazed, oft-jelly-filled, always delicious, fried dough? This roundup of what doughnuts look like in other countries serves as evidence that there's no wrong way to serve up this treasured confection, and furthermore, that no one is above the temptation of fried dough goodness.

Desire for doughnuts has dethroned the long-reigning cupcake as the sweet treat en vogue. It's so profound, in fact, that Americans have become infatuated with inventive ways to infuse the pastry with other foods for a hybridized overload of sugar-coated synergy (Cronut, anyone?). Some go so far as to bring to life even more bastardized combinations with crossbreed confections that are nothing short of decadent, and sometimes downright depraved.

But without even going the mutation route, the outcomes seem almost endless for the international interpretation of the doughnut. Countries near and far have their own diverse and delectable ways to enjoy the fried dough dessert. Sprinkled with sugar, stuffed with cream or custard, and dipped in melted chocolate or even soy milk, these high-calorie crullers have made themselves a mainstay quotidian treat and breakfast option. And no matter what you call it (one country's name for the doughnut translates directly to "oil-fried devil" and another, less poetically, to "lard ball"), its essence and enjoyment factor are enduring. Here's a look at the delicious forms doughnuts take in other countries.

1. Italy: "Bomboloni"

This robust Italian pastry is filled to the brim with custard or cream, piped in from the top instead of the side. In some regions of Italy the doughnut is known simply as "bomba," etymologically reassigned in present day to refer to its status as a "calorie bomb."

2. South Africa: "Koeksister"

These deep-fried dough sticks are recognizable by their braided design. The Afrikaner version here is soaked in cold sugar syrup after being fried, leaving it sticky and tasting like honey. The South African sweet gets its name from the Dutch word "koekje," meaning cookie.

3. Israel: "Sufganiyah"

To commemorate the miracle associated with the temple oil, it is a Jewish tradition to eat fried foods during Hanukkah. This deep-fried, jelly-filled dessert is popular in Israel during the holiday, but is also enjoyed year-round. Its name is derived from the Hebrew word for sponge.

4. Finland: "Munkki"

The Finnish take on the doughnut may look like its strawberry jelly-filled American counterpart, but it is doughier and can even feature cardamom.

5. China: "Youtiao"

Known as the "Chinese cruller," the youtiao is lightly salted, and dipped in soy milk or rice pudding as a breakfast item. Its Cantonese name yàuhjagwái means "oil-fried devil."

6. France: "Beignet"

New Orleans popularized the beignet and made it a staple of Creole cuisine, but the puffed pastry has its origins in France. In both locales, the French fritter is often found doused in powdered sugar, and paired with coffee or un café.

7. Nigeria: "Puff Puff"

This spongy sphere is a popular African snack, and is known also as "togbei" and "bofrot" in other countries. In Nigeria, it's for sale on street corners, and present at any household gathering.

8. Spain: "Churro"

These saccharine sticks have their origins in Spain, but are also popular in Mexico and other Latin countries. Dunked in cafe con leche or thick hot chocolate, the tasty batons, themselves dusted with cinnamon and sugar, make for the ultimate sweetness overload as breakfast or dessert.

9. Colombia: "Buñuelos"

Popular throughout Latin America, the Colombian version of this delectable dough ball is made with a small curd white cheese and fried until golden brown. The bite-sized beauties are then coated in flavored syrup and cinnamon sugar.

10. Germany: "Berliner"

This sugar-dusted dessert is famous for more than its sweet yeast dough and marmalade fillings. It's recounted in historical lore that JFK, in faltering German grammar, once declared himself to be this jelly doughnut. (The linguistic error has since been disputed.)

11. India: "Balushahi"

The traditional Indian pastry is known for its juxtaposition of composition: it's flaky on the outside, and moist and creamy on the inside. The effect is achieved by frying maida flour in ghee, a clarified butter, and then dunking them in sugar syrup.

12. South Asia And The Middle East: "Jalebi"

Also popular in India, as well as South Asia and the Middle East, is this pretzel-shaped pastry made of loops of batter, resulting in a beautifully tangled funnel cake. They're soaked in saffron syrup, giving them a crunchy texture, and served hot.

13. Poland: "Paczki"

A small amount of grain alcohol is required to cook this deep-fried Polish doughnut, that's complete with confiture fillings (its name translates to "little package") and, if not glazed, topped with powdered sugar or sprinkled with dried orange zest.

14. Netherlands And Belgium: "Oliebol"

This traditional Dutch and Belgian treat gets its spherical shape (its name, as you've probably guessed, means "oily ball") because actual scoops of dough are fried, resulting in balls that measure up to MLB standards. In Belgium they're called smoutebollen, literally "lard ball."

15. Morocco: "Sfenj"

Its name stems from the Arabic word for "sponge," and it varies from its doughnut cousins in that the dough itself is not sweet. Sold by street vendors, the sticky, unsweetened snack is sometimes dipped in honey or dusted with sugar.

16. Nepal: "Sel Roti"

These crispy circles of rice flour are spiced with cardamom and cloves, and are enjoyed as daily street food and during Nepali religious festivals.

17. Turkey: "Tulumba"

Popular in Mediterranean countries, this small sweet pastry is a different kind of Turkish delight. Its ridged texture resembles crullers, but its oblong shape and taste of sweet fragrant syrup set it apart.

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