Jalebis are an addictive Indian sweet snack often served for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, and festivals. The satisfying golden swirls are especially important to the Hindu festival Dusshera, a celebration of the good Lord Rama's triumph over evil Ravana, as Rama was keen on shashkouli, the ancient name for jalebis. While reminiscent of American funnel cakes with their deep-fried ribbons, they're crunchy and more complex with a slight sour flavor and finished in a saffron-infused syrup. The batter is fermented much like a sourdough, and gives the jalebis an added dimension of flavor and for this reason, it’s best to make your batter the night before. The next day, little bubbles of gas from the fermentation will rise to the surface. The sugar syrup is cooked to “1-string” or “single-thread” consistency, similar to maple syrup and should reach about 110°C or 230°F on a thermometer. Saffron is added to the syrup for flavor, aroma, and color. They’re delicious to snack on hot, room temperature, or soaked in warm milk.
Yield: about 20-30 jalebi
Maida (All-Purpose Flour) 250 g
Besan (Gram Chickpea Flour) 25 g
Ghee, or Canola Oil 50 g
Yogurt 2-3 Tbsp
Water To desired consistency
Ghee, or Canola Oil For frying
1. Mix the first four ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Add water, a little at a time, while mixing until the batter is smooth and thick, but flowing.
3. Cover the bowl and let it ferment overnight at room temperature. If you are short on time, ferment for at least 2-3 hours in the sun or in a warm spot.
4. After the batter has fermented, mix well and check consistency. If too thin, add a little flour. If too thick, add a little water.
5. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip or a squeeze bottle.
6. Heat oil over low-medium flame in a sauté pan until batter sizzles when tested, about 350°F.
7. Working quickly, pipe a swirl pattern into the hot oil, finishing off with a line of batter down the middle to connect the lines.
8. Repeat to fill the pan in one layer.
9. Cook until golden brown and flip. Cook until golden brown on the other side.
10. Use tongs to remove the cooked jalebis and gently shake off excess oil. Transfer into warm syrup.
11. Once the jalebis are fully soaked in syrup, about 2-3 minutes, remove and gently shake off excess syrup. Transfer to a plate.
12. Serve by itself or with a dusting of powdered sugar or crushed nuts.
Sugar 200 g
Water 115 g
Saffron Threads ¼ tsp or a few strands
1. Mix together sugar and water in a saucepot with saffron threads and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and cook until the syrup thickens. Test for 1-string consistency – touch a bit of cooled syrup with your thumb and forefinger and separate slowly. Look for a single, thin thread of syrup that doesn’t break. If it breaks, continue cooking a little longer.
3. Remove from heat and reserve warm.