If we talk about sweets, Jalebi is surely “The king of sweets”.
Jalebi is a popular sweet of India that is also prepared in Middle East and Pakistan. It is popular throughout South Asia, Middle-East, North and East Africa. It is made traditionally during many important celebrations and festivals. Jalebi is also known by the name of Zulbia.
It is prepared by deep-frying of wheat flour (maida) batter in circular shape. After frying, it is soaked in syrup of sugar. They are a popular sweet during the festivals of Diwali and Ramadan.
Jalebi can be eaten warm or cold. They are chewable from outside, with an exterior which is sugary and crystallized. The syrup for the Jalebi sometimes contains citric acid, lime juice or rose water. In North India, Jalebi is served with curd or rabri and added flavors like kewra or scented water.
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Jalebi is very similar to a West Asian dish. The word Jalebi has been derived from Zulabiya or Zalibiya(in Persian) which is a similar dish. In West Asia, it is served by Christians during the feast of Theophany or Epiphany. In Iran, there was a custom of giving Zulabiya sweet to the poor during the festival of Ramadan. A cookbook of 10th century contains many recipes of zulubiya. Many 13th century recipes of Jalebi are present. The most prominent is the one mentioned by “Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi” in a cookbook.
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The dish was introduced to Indian continent by the Persian invaders in 15th century. At that time, Jalebi was known as Jalavallika or Kundalika. Jalebi is mentioned in the works of a Jain author Jinasura of around 1450 CE. The ingredients and recipe of Jalebi are mentioned in a Sanskrit work of 1600 CE named “Gunyagunabodhini”.
In Iran, Jalebi is known as zulabia(Persian) and it is sweetened with sugar and honey. It is also flavoured with rose water and saffron.
It is also known as “zalabia” in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. It is known as “zilebi” in Maldives. In Nepal, it is known as “jeri”.
Try Jalebi at home with the following different recipes:-