You Call That a Donut? 12 Variations Around the World (Slideshow)
Jalebi, common in South Asia, India and the Middle East, are delicate "loops" of dough, resembling thin funnel cakes. The batter for these sticky sweets is fermented, and after frying, the jalebi are soaked in syrup. Like most pastries, these treats are best eaten hot.
Youtiao, also known as Chinese oil sticks or Chinese crullers, are lightly salted Chinese donuts. But instead of dunking them in hot chocolate like is the tradition with churros, these "oil sticks" are dipped into rice porridge or soy milk for breakfast.
Sufganiyot — fried, jelly-filled donuts — are a popular Hanukkah treat in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world. Different countries may call desserts like these by different names (in Russia, they're ponchiki; in Poland, pączki), but wherever they're found, sufganiyot are deep-fried in oil and filled with some type of jelly.
The flaky-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside balushahi are donuts made with yogurt fried in ghee (a type of clarified butter), and they're enjoyed as a traditional dessert or snack in parts of northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal.
In the Netherlands, ball-shaped and deep-fried oliebollen (literally translated as "oil balls"), are typically filled with raisins, and enjoyed around festivities like New Year's Eve.
Made from an egg-heavy dough, the Turkish treat tulumba resembles crullers or profiteroles in texture, but with a crunchier outside shell. The small batons are piped into hot oil from a tube, and soaked in syrup after frying. Tulumba are also popular in other Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Croatia.
Churros have become popular in several parts of the world, but they're often connected with Spain or parts of Latin America. There, churros — fluted wands deep-fried in oil and dusted with cinnamon and sugar — are often eaten for breakfast (or as a late-night snack) dipped in cafe con leche or thick hot chocolate.
When looking for a sweet and deep-fried treat in South-Africa, turn to koeksisters. These "braided" dough sticks are sticky and crunchy on the outside, and moist and syrupy inside. After frying, these treats are soaked in a sweet syrup flavored with cinnamon, ginger, and lemon.
The ring shape of these Moroccan treats might be similar to the classic American donut, but instead of being smooth-edged, sfenj are quite rough-hewn. The yeast dough used for sfenj is sticky and unsweetened, and the donuts are often sold by street vendors. Sfenj can be enjoyed plain or dusted with sugar, for breakfast or with a cup of tea.
Nepalese sel roti are both a breakfast food and special-occasion treat, enjoyed during Nepali religious festivals of Dashain and Tihaar. These ring-shaped donuts are made with rice flour, and fried thin and crispy.
Finnish munkki are similar to classic American yeast donuts, but much heavier and doughier. The batter calls for butter, eggs, milk, flour, and salt, and the donuts can be found both ring-shaped or round and filled with strawberry jelly. If you ask for a "possu" (especially common at truck-stop cafés and other local bakeries), you will get a quite flat, almost square-like version of this same jelly-filled donut. The name "possu" means pig, and is referring to the ambiguous "pig shape" of the donut.