Recipe Corner: Almas Koobation’s Tukalic (Drop Cakes)


Whenever award-winning chef Jon Koobation’s beloved grandmother, Almas Koobation came to babysit them as children in Dinuba, California in the 1950s, he and his sister Marilyn would beg her to make her mouthwatering tukalic or “drop cakes.” Also known as zeppole or bishi, Jon says, “this recipe is lighter than doughnuts, and more like a cruller sprinkled with sugar. I remember standing by our stove with my sister, watching my grandmother drop the batter into the hot oil and the cakes quickly rising up. We could hardly wait for them to finish cooking, so we could enjoy them right away.”

This recipe is featured in Cooking With JON, the engaging cookbook Jon published in 2017. Jon for decades owned the celebrated Jon’s Bear Club. Under his professional direction, Jon’s Bear Club became a beloved part of the local community, and home to countless family meals and celebrations that welcomed generations of Central Valley residents.

Cooking With JON is a legacy to Jon’s diverse culinary background, and includes many of his popular signature recipes along with family photos and warm memories and anecdotes. The wealth of delicious choices and beautiful full-color photography will provide daily inspiration for meals throughout the year. Recipes include: Grandma Bazarian’s Shish Kebab, Chicken George, Lebanese Lentils and Rice, Baja Cobb Salad, JBC Crab Cakes, Braised Lamb Shanks with Bulgur Pilaf, Cabbage Dolma with Beef and Lamb, Meyer Lemon Homemade Ice Cream, and Cracked Wheat and Kale Salad. “My grandmother Almas was a very good cook, and this recipe is just one of many fond memories of my childhood. Her “drop cakes” are a perfect breakfast treat or served as a dessert with fresh berries, honey, powdered sugar and whipped cream.”


1 cup flour

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1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Canola oil for frying

Serves 6. Makes 12-13 pieces.


In a bowl, mix the ingredients well with a whisk to make a nice batter. Let this rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat a large skillet with canola oil to the depth of 1/2 inch and 350 degrees. Using a tablespoon, drop the batter into the oil, being careful not to splash.

Fry until golden and turn to finish the other side. Drain on a paper toweled plate. Dust or roll in cinnamon, sugar or powdered sugar, and serve with butter, honey, or maple syrup.

*The batter can be mixed the night before and placed in refrigerator overnight. Take out and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes before frying.

Jon is the recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in the California Restaurant Association’s “Best of the Valley” awards. Contact Jon at <> to order his book and for a personally signed copy. His book is also available for sale at The Market Grocery Store on West and Herndon and at Sam’s Deli & Cucina in Fresno, California. To order directly at Amazon Books, go to: <>

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