History & The Secrets Behind ‘Jalebi’ | India Canteen

Jalebi is a mouth-watering Indian dessert that can be described as funnel cakes. A sweet street food, jalebi is found across India and even Iran, Africa, West Asia and many more countries. Made with deep-frying maida flour batter in circular shapes, which are soaked in sugar syrup then served both cold or warm.

It is fried in the hot oil, using a cotton fabric cloth and carefully soaked in the sugar syrup. It would not be wrong to say that the process of making jalebis is no less attractive than the final product on your plate. You can have jalebis alone, or with a samosa but best combination is with creamy rabdi. A glass of piping hot milk or chilled milk with crunchy hot jalebis is a popular breakfast in several cities like Haridwar and Indore.

Did you know your favourite dessert recipe i.e Jalebi that you see across all sweet shops or morning breakfast shops in your city is not Indian but a West Asian or a Persian import?

Yes, you heard us Right !!

Our very own crispy, hot and sweet jalebi is not an Indian recipe but we have made it our own. Originally it is a version of sweet dish “Zolabiya” or “Zalabiya”.

Zalabiya is a festive dessert in iran, enjoyed by everyone during the iftar parties of Ramzaan. In 13th century, Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi (writer) collected a total of about 260 recipes of that time and highlighted them in his cookbook, ‘Kitab al-Tabeekh’, where ‘Zalabiya’ was mentioned for the first time.

In the 15th century, the makeover of Jalebi from Zalabiya happened when the Jain author Jinasura talked about it first time in the famous holy writ called ‘Priyamkarnrpakatha’ . In his holy writ it is said that jalebi was introduced to the Indian subcontinent by our not-so-friendly Persian Turkic invaders. According to The Hobson-Jobson Anglo-Indian dictionary, the Indian word Jalebi is derived from the Arabic word zulabiya or the Persian zolbiya with the onslaught of Turkish and Persian traders. From 15th century till today, this sweet dish began to be known as Jalebi and became a compulsory part in festive occasions, weddings, Indian breakfast and even temple bhog/prasad.

The preparation of Jalebis is considerably not so difficult. In a large pot whisk refined flour, yogurt and sufficient water to a smooth and pouring consistency batter. Cover and keep in a warm place to ferment for minimum 1 day. Transfer the batter into a jalebi cloth, gather the edges and make a tight potli. The cloth filled with the batter is squeezed with adequate pressure from top to make concentric circles turning them over gently a few times, till they are evenly golden and crisp, and than transferred to the sugar syrup, which sometimes may also contain hints of saffron (for the perfect orange hue). Once the jalebis soak the sugar syrup for 2-3 minutes, take them out of the syrup and they are ready to serve hot.

This dish is not to be confused with similar sweets and variants like Imarti, Paneer Jalebi, Mawa Jalebi, Afgaan Jalebi etc.

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