Jan from Sydney asks:

“Kurma, I tasted some Jalebis the other night at an Indian restaurant. They were nowhere near as good as the ones I tasted in India. Do you have a recipe?”

My answer: “Hello Jan! Yes I agree, I also have never tasted Jalebis as nice as the ones I once tasted in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. I have tried to reproduce that recipe in one of my cookbooks. Here it is.”


Crispy Fried Batter Spirals in Saffron Syrup (Jalebis)

If I have a favourite sweet, it has to be jalebis. They are saffron-coloured, light, juicy and slightly crunchy – and very addictive. They don’t take long to make, although the batter does have to sit for at least 18-24 hours to ferment slightly. This fermentation is essential for the jalebis to develop the correct texture when fried. A little practice is required to master the uniform shapes of jalebis, although even strange-looking squiggles will taste just as good. Jalebi batter has to be poured into the hot ghee, formed, fried, removed, then soaked in syrup for only a few seconds, removed, then drained – all in quick succession. It’s useful to cook jalebis with a partner, one handling the frying and the other looking after the dipping in syrup.

There are a number of alternative utensils you can use for extruding the batter into the hot ghee: a piping bag or cylinder, a plastic squeeze bottle, a metal cookie “gun”, or even a plastic bag with a small hole – are all quite suitable. Jalebis are a wonderful dessert to make for a special buffet and will receive rave reviews.

Preparation & cooking time: about 35 – 40 minutes
Batter resting time: 18 – 24 hours
Serves: 6 – 8 persons

2 cups unbleached plain flour
1½ tablespoons rice flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons yogurt
1¼ cups warm water
½ teaspoon powdered saffron
3 cups sugar
2 2/3 cups water
1½ tablespoons rose water
ghee for deep-frying

Mix together the flour, rice flour and baking powder in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the yogurt, the 1¼ cups warm water, and half the saffron, and whisk it into a smooth batter, and cover it.

Leave it in a warm place for 18-24 hours. The batter will be ready when it appears somewhat gelatinous and gooey when whisked. It should flow from a spoon in a broad solid band without breaking.

Combine the sugar, the remaining saffron and 2 2 / 3 cups water in a 3-litre/quart frying pan or deep pan. Place over moderate heat, stir to dissolve the sugar, raise the heat and boil for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rosewater.

Set a cake rack on a tray near the cooking area. Fill a large flat pan with ghee to a depth of 3.75cm (1½ inches) and heat to 180°C/355°F.

Pour the batter into your piping bag or squeeze bottle and squeeze the batter out over the surface of the hot ghee. You can form three-ring connecting spirals, loose double-figure eights or a series of loops, joined in a chain. Each piece should be about 5cm x 7.5cm (2 inches x 3 inches) wide.

Fry for about 30 seconds on the first side, and 20-30 seconds on the second side, or until they turn crisp and golden brown.

Lift the cooked jalebis out of the ghee, and lower them carefully in the hot syrup. With another slotted spoon, hold them under the syrup for 15-20 seconds to allow the hot syrup to fill up the hollow centres of the loops. Don’t let them languish too long in the syrup lest they become limp.

Remove the jalebis from the syrup and place them on a cake rack to drain.

Continue to shape, fry, soak and drain the remaining jalebis.

Serve the jalebis hot.
Posted by Kurma on 22/9/06; 6:55:57 AM

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