Jalebi are Spiral Shaped Indian Sweets. They are one of the most popular sweets within the Indian community. It’s made from a variation of flours depending on tradition. In some parts of India, it’s made from gram flour, in some parts from urad dall flour and in some places from plain flour. I made these using plain flour.
Jalebis are best eaten fresh and warm. Most tend to go soft and limp if left around overnight. Traditionally jalebis are served with lamba gathia with Sambharo, chutney and fried chillies for the Sunday brunch. For those of you living in London and Leicester will have seen the Queues outside some Indian Sweets and savouries shops on Sunday mornings.
I will admit that it is not an easy sweet to master. I thought that creating the spiral shape would be the hard part but actually, its the making of the jalebi batter to the right consistency, so that it soaks up the syrup and stays crisp, which requires real talent. I grew up watching my father and later my father in law make these hot and fresh during Diwali celebrations and at the weddings they catered at but never attempted to make them. I was too busy tasting them. My poor family had to keep trying out my jalebis as I made at least 4 batches of jalebis before we were all happy with the results. I am glad that I did not give up.
Ingredients for about 20 jalebis
For the jalebi:
- 2 cups of plain flour
- Half a cup of yoghurt preferably sharp yogurt
- 1 litre Cooking oil for frying the jalebis
- 2 -3 drops of orange or red food colour
For the syrup:
- 1 and half cups of sugar
- A pinch of saffron
- A pinch of cardamom powder
- a couple of drops of lemon juice
1. Take one cup of plain flour and add the yoghurt to it. Using sharp yoghurt helps with the fermentation of the batter. Add half a cup of warm water and mix well. The batter should be quite thick and smooth.
2. Cover this mixing bowl and keep it in a warm place for about 12-14 hours. I kept my bowl inside an insulated box.
3. After 12-14 hours, you should see little bubbles which means that the batter is fermenting well.
4. Add the remaining plain flour to the mixture and stir well. Also add the food colour. Getting the right colour can be hard but this can be adjusted if the jalebis turn out a paler colour.
5. Stand the mixing bowl in a bigger bowl which should be filled with hot water. Let this stand for half an hour. The warmth will help with the fermentation of the dough.
Whilst the batter is being fermented, prepare the syrup.
For the syrup:
6. In a saucepan, add the sugar and one cup of water. Allow this to dissolve.
7. Heat this mixture until the syrup is almost stringy. Add a couple of drops of lemon juice to the syrup. This stops the sugar from crystallising.
8. Add the saffron and cardamom to the syrup and lower the heat.
9. Now it’s time to make the jalebis. Pour the jalebi batter into a plastic tomato ketchup dispenser. You can use any similar plastic dispensers. Traditionally, the chef uses either a muslin type cloth or a metal container called a “lota” with a hole at the bottom. Most chefs take their own jalebi makers with them if they are catering anywhere.
10. Heat some oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot, reduce the temperature to medium. To test whether the oil is hot, drop a few drops of batter to the oil. If the batter rises too quickly to the top, the oil is hot and the heat should be reduced to medium. Gently pour the batter directly into the oil in small spiral like patterns, taking care to make sure the edges are joined to the rest of the jalebi. I started from the middle and made my spiral outwards.
12. Remove the Jalebi – with a tong and dip them into the sugar syrup for a few minutes.
14. Remove and finish making the rest of the Jalebi Enjoy Jalebi whilst they are crispy and warm.