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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Jalebi khane kaun aa rahen hein?

The spiral way to a sweet bite: Good old Jalebi/Jilipi/Jilawii/Zulbia

There is something about sweet crunchy things and then there is something about sweet sticky crunchy spiral things. That thing is Jalebi. Before the spiral jalebi twist your neurons let me tell you it is easy to make and you can have fun making jalebis! Yes jalebi is easy to make, well almost. A simple batter of plain flour and water fermented over some hours either with yeast or without yeast and then deep fried in oil and finally dipped into flavored sugar syrup-and then the world has jalebis.

              Well  I have fantastic  memories with jalebis, some of them take me back on my school life while some take me back on distant mornings when my dad would brings jalebis on his way back home from the local market and it was such a high moment for me being a kid. Not that jalebis don’t get me high now, they recently did when I made them for the first time in my life, so I was pretty excited that day.

                                                      Back to the time when I was in school, our school used to serve us snacks around the middle of the day, that was one unique thing about our school.  Some days they will serve us something savory while some days they will serve us something sweet like jalebis! Right inside the school premises and adjacent to the big green football field there was the complex where our mid-day snacks used to get prepared; there were series of rooms with men busy preparing food for all the students, which was a huge task. While kids from other school used to envy us for this we felt it was an asset. Even the school bunking kids would show up around the mid-day so they can get their snacks! Food is powerful ;)

                                                                                     Some days the great cooks from our school would surprise us by making jalebis! We used to call them Tiffin-man, in the Tiffin time all the students would queue up along the corridor of the complex, the students walking away collecting 3 jalebis in his hand, he was being watched . And to tell you our beloved Tiffin-man made big fantastic jalebis n not just jalebis they made everything made tasty for us. Thank you our Tiffin-man, for you all did a very good work.

                                                                                                 Do you know that jalebi is popular not just in India but equally in the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran- in fact Jalebis are popular across the middle-east Asia, Northern and Eastern part of Africa. So if you haven’t tried it yet you know just what to do. In India Diwali is coming, just around the corner, on 23 rd October this year and Diwali and Jalebi are very good friends together. So I am thinking that on this Diwali if we want to give it a sweet personal touch and make it extra special you know what we should all do? Yes!!! Make jalebis at home, there is nothing quite like it huh!

The origin of the jalebis in India perhaps can be traced to the medieval time, during the time of the Persian invaders. In Iran jalebi is known as Zulbia, in fact a 10th century cookbook over there gives several zulbia recipes, in the 15th century India jalebi has names like ‘Kundlika’, ‘Jalavallika’.

                            So this makes me think the hands of the jalebi is pretty long, it has won hearts in so many countries , in Iran it is ‘Zulbia’, in India it is ‘Jalebi’/’Jilipi’/’jilapi’, in Egypt, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon it is ‘Zalabia’ /’Zalabiya’, in Bangladesh it is ‘Jilipi’, in Maldives it is ‘Zilebi’, in Nepal it is ‘Jeri’, in Algeria and Tunisia it is ‘Zlebia’ /’Zlabia’.

                                           Now since the shape of the jalebi is like spiral and overlapping and complicated it is even in metaphor like if someone who has a complicated heart or brain we sometimes that ‘Oh! Your heart is like a jalebi!’, and at times since our intestine is also twisted n a bit spiral so when someone is having a wicked idea secretly and sensing that we say ‘ummm... there are spirals in your stomach like the jalebis’.

Now I will simply give you the recipe. Fry on.

For The Recipe: You will need
For the Jalebi mixture
Plain flour/Maida- 1 cup
Water –around 3/4th cup
A pinch of baking soda
A pinch of salt
½-1 tsp of sugar

For the Sugar Syrup
Sugar – 1 cup
Water- 3/4th or 1 cup

For Deep-frying the jalebis
Vegetable oil or ghee- Around 3 -4 cups

1.When the fried jalebis are dipped in the sugar syrup make sure the syrup is slightly warm and not all cold.
           2. About the consistency of the batter, lift the batter in a spoon and it should fall slightly thickly off the spoon, not very easily and not like it has some difficulty falling off the spoon; it should fall freely but with some resistance.

1. Let’s begin by making the batter which will need 24 hours to ferment, so simply in big vessel take one cup of plain flour and add the sugar and then start adding the water little by little. Add a little water at first and whisk to make sure that there are no lumps; once you have done that add more water and whisk. The consistency will be not thin but not too dense, so if you take up the batter on a spoon and let it fall it should fall just freely and if you try to make some shape like 8 with the batter on the batter itself you should be able to do it and the figure should be visible for about 10 seconds. If you add more water nothing to worry, it can be adjusted by adding some more flour or if you have made a thicker one add a little more water. Once the batter is ready, cover it with a cling film and leave it for 24 hours and it will ferment and develop an unique flavor. Keep in mind after the fermentation the batter will go little lighter because of the air bubbles so we might have to add some more flour in case it has gone a bit more light than what we need, which happened in my case. So I simply added some more flour and let it rest for 30 minutes.

2.  So now after 24 hours our batter is ready, add the salt and a tiny pinch of baking soda or baking powder. Now we will make the sugar syrup, simple in a wok add the sugar and the water, turn on the heat to low and let the sugar melt completely, after that up the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer and it will need about 5-8 minutes to get to the stage when we drop some mixture in a plate and when slightly cooled we pick the drop between our 2 fingers it feels a bit sticky like honey, we are not looking for 1 or 2 string consistency, just when it gets like honey and not too watery, it’s ready. Take it off the heat.

3. Now we will fry the jalebis, in a wok or semi-flat deep pan add the oil and heat it up until the oil is moderately hot, we don’t want the oil to be very hot when frying or the jalebis will color immediately, so first heat the oil moderately and drop a little of the mixture with a spoon to the oil and look for they begin to bubble immediately but not gets colored or burnt immediately, it is happens the oil is too hot so remove it from the heat for a minute or in case the oil is too cold, and the little drops of batter in the oil take a bit of time to bubble heat the oil a little more.

4. Now take polythene cone or a piping bag with simple ½ cm hole nozzle or a squeeze bottle with a nozzle or a traditional Jalebi cloth with a stitched hole in it or just like what I did, I took a empty thin milk packet, open it up and put some of the batter in it and cut a little hole in one corner! So now the oil is hot, let’s start. Before you do your first jalebi spiral on the hot oil itself, do it several times on the batter, practice it. simply move your hand in a round shape as the batter falls and it will create a spiral and make 2 zigzag movements so the batter creates a straight line on the spiral itself, it will hold the spiral in shape, if we only do the spiral without the zigzag straight lines it won’t be able to hold its shape when we turn them over, so to hold it we need to connect the spiral with overlapping straight lines to hold their shape. So one jalebi is down in the oil, quickly move to a new surface in the oil to make another one and then another. Make 3-4 at a time. Now depending on the temperature of the oil the jalebis will take about 2 minutes on each side to get brown, don’t get them dark brown, once they get light brown turn them over and give 2 more minutes, take them out on a plate and them dip them in the sugar syrup for a about 2 minutes on each side, while they are in the sugar syrup start the new batch of jalebis in the oil.

5. You can make the jalebis light brown or dark brown both and they both have a different taste because they have been fried to a different level. Both are enjoyed so I suggest you to make both kinds, brown some of the jalebis a little to the dark brown stage on one side , then turn them over and do the same, while in next batch fry the jalebis as they just begin to color and turn them over and do the same to the other side. Keep the jalebis in the sugar syrup for total about 5 minutes, not more than that, about 2 minutes in each side and take them off. And when all of them are done, serve them.

Come on now! Crunch on, Happy Jalebis to you. Bon app├ętit. J

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