Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jalebi | First Anniversary special

Today it is exactly a year since I started this blog. It has been such a wonderful year, with so much to learn, experiment and cherish. It has been a fulfilling experience in these 365 days. And to celebrate this day, here is a sweet that is completely Indian, Jalebi. A family favorite dish that is cherished by old and young alike. This dish also has a special connection to my grandmother and my mother, both great cooks themselves and my mentors and best critics! My grandmother taught my mother this recipe and she taught me. This dish is in remembrance of my grandmother, who I lost last year. 

So back to the Jalebis, these sweet Indianised funnel cakes dipped in sugar syrup have been my favorite since childhood. They are a must make on Dashera, an Indian festival that comes around October as well as Diwali, the festival of lights. Also, Jalebi makes a common appearance in most Gujarati weddings as a sweet dish or breakfast dish. 

There are some variations in serving styles of this dish depending on when it is served. Gujarati enjoy Jalebi gathiya as a common breakfast, Indore has it's version of Jalebi Poha for breakfast. Uttar Pradesh has a sweet similar to Jalebi called Imarti, and Orissa has a similar Chenna Jalebi. Some like it hot while some enjoy jalebi with Vanilla Ice-cream. Whether hot or cold, Jalebi always tastes amazing. 

The whole fun of Jalebi is probably in making the swirls from the squeeze bottle. The experts in India make it from batter filled in a cloth and a tiny hole. However, at home that may not be a feasible method. Also, they fry it in ghee but we do not like the strong ghee flavor of ghee so we use oil instead. You can make it in either fat. If you would like a darker yellow orange color, add some food color to the sugar syrup and it should do the trick. Adding kesar and cardamom to sugar syrup is optional and some places also add dried rose petals.

For the Jalebi
All-Purpose flour/Maida 1 cup
Gram Flour/Besan 2 tbsp
Yogurt 1 tbsp
Oil/ghee to fry

For the Sugar Syrup
Sugar 1 cup
Saffron a pinch
Cardamon 1-2 pods


For the Jalebi Batter

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients under jalebi and add water to it. The water should be enough to make a dough that is just like the pancake dough. Do not add too much water otherwise the jalebi will not retain it's shape. Let the mixture ferment overnight or at least 8-10 hours. The time required will largely depend on the temperature in the house, so ensure the batter is kept in a warm place. 

Once the mixture has fermented well, mix it and check the consistency. If the mixture has become too thick, add some water and if it is too runny add some flour to attain the right consistency. 

For the Sugar Syrup

In a broad bottom pan add the sugar and water. The water should just be about 1/4 inch above the sugar level. Heat on high flame till the water boils. Add a pinch of saffron and cardamon seeds. If you would like to get orange colored jalebis, add orange food color. Reduce flame to medium and make a syrup of one thread consistency. Remove from flame and keep the syrup warm. If the syrup is too cold, it will not coat the jalebi well and if it is too hot, the jalebis will be soggy.

To make the Jalebis

The traditional recipes for jalebis call for ghee or clarified butter to fry. However, we generally use oil to fry them. Depending on what you want to use, add the oil or ghee to a broad bottom pan of about one to two inches depth. Heat it well. Transfer the jalebi batter to a squeeze bottle or a ketchup bottle with a squeeze top. 

Check the temperature of the oil by dropping a drop of the batter in it. Once the temperature is right, use the squeeze bottle and make three four jalebis. Ensure you leave some space between them to allow rising. Fry them on both sides ensuring they do not burn. 

Transfer the drained jalebis straight to the sugar syrup and dip them for a minute. Drain and remove. Serve with Fafda Gathiya and a cup of Masala Chai. It can also be enjoyed as a sweet dish along with lunch or dinner.

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