Jalebi!! Yes, that sweet Indian delicacy which melts so yummilisiously in the mouth…ummm. The very sight of it after ages almost reminds me of how Papa would bring them on Sunday morning and the celebration of Republic Day and Independence Day would be incomplete without it in India. And of course the Indian ‘Dhara’ oil advertisement, who can forget that.
A phrase used to describe a somewhat naughty person “straight like the shape of Jalebi” comes to my mind when I think of its recipe. I would always think that making a Jalebi would involve some rocket science. After all it is round but not exactly a round shape, you see what I mean. It is crisp from outside and filled with the sugary syrup inside. But I never delved deep into its ingredients.
Recently, when I visited my Mum-in-law, she announced that she would make ‘Jalebis’ for everyone in the house the same evening. Of course I was surprised but at the same time I saw her in a different light. She has to be some scientist to produce those difficult rounded stuff. I quickly decided to become her student. Though, in the back of my mind, I was thinking will her Jalebis be similar to those we get in shops or something like when we try to copy restaurant or shop-made food, it will still lack those that we call a professional touch.
So, following her to the kitchen like an over-enthusiastic student going from grade one to two, I watched her picking up a bowl containing a white stretchy substance. Asking about what it was, she replied it was a mixture of plain flour and yoghurt that she left overnight for fermentation. It is a traditional method of making Jalebis that is followed by most shops or Halwais, the person who makes sweet delicacies in India.
My Mum-in-law started with heating sugar and water in a deep pan which will become ‘Chasni’ or the liquid in which the Jalebis will be dipped. Then scooping the fermented batter into a piping bag, she instantly carved somewhat twisted and overlapping circles in a broad frying pan with dollops of oil. When golden brown, these shapes were quickly transferred into the prepared Chasni and from there to a plate which went straight into my mouth. Oh my God, it tasted exactly like those shop-made Jalebis or even more delicious. I just couldn’t settle for one and ate to my soul’s satisfaction.
Such easy and simple recipe for a Jalebi, I never thought so. And surprisingly there were no measuring equipments used but using the everyday utensils and cutleries, she took out four ladles of plain flour, added half a cup yoghurt and half a cup water and left overnight for fermentation. Similarly for the Chasni, she added water to half a kilogram sugar using her own judgement. I wish all recipes could be this simple.
Soon after I offered my services to Mum-in-law and quickly made some delicious Jalebis. I realise that the Jalebis which looked so difficult had such simple recipe. If I can be a bit philosophical here and say ‘Most things in life appear to be difficult in the beginning until we take action’. Coming back to Jalebis, they were so simple that once we started frying it everyone in the house wanted to try to make one.
Here are some pictures of the Jalebis that I made: