Pettole, deep fried dough balls, are a Christmas tradition in Puglia. Prepared and eaten during the festive period, pettole can be sweet or savoury.
The dough is made from flour, potato, yeast, water and salt, and left for a couple of hours at least to rise. They are then deep fried in olive oil and served warm.
Savoury pettole can be cooked plain or made with baccalà (dried salted cod), anchovies, olives or sun dried tomatoes mixed into the dough, and can be served sprinkled in salt.
Sweet pettole, like mini doughnuts, are served sprinkled with sugar or dipped in honey, vincotto or fig syrup.
Tradition dictates that pettole are served from December 8th - the date of the Immaculate Conception - until Candlemas on 2nd February.
In some parts of Puglia these are served as early as 15th October (in Gallipoli to celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila).
Typically the dough is prepared on the morning of 24th December and the pettole fried and eaten from noon, as an appetiser for the Christmas Eve dinner to follow that night.