Indian desserts, to me, are hit and miss. Jalebis are one of them. Made wrong, the whole thing is a huge miss. With that said, you wonder how a form of funnel cake soaked in sugar syrup could go wrong.
I actually hated these as a child while living in India. Once I left for the states, I missed them instantly. A quintessential celebratory dessert, these are perfect for the holiday season or to make for a loved one for the new year. Whatever the reason, get your stretchy pants ready.
My mother in law makes these every Christmas and this year, I decided to take a try. I’m glad I did. Once you get the form right, the whole process is fairly simple. It helps to know that the batter should be a thinner pancake batter. Also, make sure the oil is hot when frying and to soak in the sugar syrup as soon as the jalebi comes out. If the oil isn’t hot or you wait too long to soak, you could have an oily soggy jalebi – a no no. Also, a squeeze bottle dispenser is somewhat integral to make sure you get the right consistency in the spirals – similar to an empty mustard container or this.
adapted from my mother in law
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp chickpea (besan/gram) flour
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch of ground cardamom
- a few drops of orange food coloring
- 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
- 1 tsp of rose water, optional
- Proof the yeast and lukewarm water in a large bowl (mix the two and set aside for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy).
- To the proofed yeast mix, add the flours and mix until all lumps are gone.
- Mix in yogurt, sugar and 1/2 tsp oil until you get a thin pancake batter like consistency. You want it to flow like fast ribbons.
- Put the batter aside for 1 hour to set in a warm place.
- After setting, mix the batter again. You will notice little air pockets like pancake batter.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan.
- While the oil is heating make the sugar syrup because you want the syrup to be warm. Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cardamom, food coloring, lemon juice and rose water (if using) and whisk to incorporate. Remove from heat immediately.
- You can test the oil to see if it is hot enough by dropping a bit of dough in the oil. If ready, the dough should instantly float back up without burning or getting too brown.
- Fill the dough into the squeeze bottle.
- Squeeze the batter into the oil in a spiral shape about 3-4 inches in diameter. Work fast so that the dough doesn’t unevenly cook.
- Fry until golden brown and flip the jalebi if necessary to cook evenly on the other side.
- Once fried properly, soak in the syrup until fully soaked (about 10 seconds) and then remove.
- Serve hot. Store in an airtight container, which should last you about 4 days. But, remember, the fresher the better.