As is rightly said, there is always room for dessert. And what better time to relish piping hot sweets than winter? With Holi or the “Festival of Colours” right around the corner, festivities are in full swing and any celebration is incomplete without some sweets. Usually a sweetened drink called Bhang is prepared as a part of Holi tradition, especially in North India. Bhang is heavily consumed in Mathura, an ancient town of religious importance to the Hindus. This time I am also planning to prepare my kids’ favourite sweet dish, Jalebi to go along with it.Jalebi has a unique appearance- it resembles an orange coloured entangled pipe!
Jalebi, also sometimes known as Zulbia enjoys special popularity in India and also some parts of Africa. It is prepared by deep-frying maida flour batter in a circular shape followed by soaking in sweetened sugar syrup. It can be served hot with other accompaniments, like Rabri (another Indian sweet dish) or even curds. It is frequently prepared by roadside vendors in India, and the preparation process is a feast for the eyes. It is engaging to watch how slowly the batter is drizzled into the hot oil and forms an interesting pattern. My recipe for jalebi consists of two important steps- preparation of the syrup and the preparation of sweetmeat. It is advisable to start the preparation of jalebi in advance, as fermentation takes a few hours.
The main ingredients used in the syrup are sugar and water. Aromatic spices and saffron can also be added for extra flavour. It is important to get the right consistency for the syrup. This recipe requires the use of one-thread consistency- when a single thread is formed, and does not break when stretched between fingers. Care must be taken while boiling to ensure that the correct consistency is achieved. For the sweetmeat, all-purpose flour (maida) is combined with cornflour for a thick texture. Orange food colour can also be added to it. Fermentation of the jalebi batter is key for good taste. If living in a cold area, the required fermentation time would be more than five hours. A bottle with a nozzle or a cloth with a hole at the bottom can be used to pour the batter into the hot oil. The jalebi should attain a crispy golden-brown colour after deep-frying. It is subsequently added to the sugar syrup which it absorbs readily after a few minutes.
So add a splash of colour to this year’s Holi celebrations by munching on delicious Jalebis.