First of all, the Jalebi is not Indian. It probably originated in the Middle East or Persia. Not sure where but is also called Zalabiya or Zalibiya in Persian. Honestly I have no idea where it originated ; I am no historian after all, just an indulgent dessert fan.
All I know is that it is not that easy to find the perfect Jalebi. I am of the firm opinion that if you are soaking in the calories, it should be totally worth it. Why expand the waistline on rubbish. So, make no mistake, it is hard to find a good, crisp and ‘just right sweetness’ endowed Jalebi.
So, where do we start this search? At first which one, as there is also the close cousin of the Jalebi called the Imarthi.. But for now, let’s keep it simple and focus on the former.
Made of flour, yoghurt ( dahi) fermented overnight, fried in ghee and immersed thereafter in sugar syrup. Sounds simple, but it’s far from that. You need to be an expert to make it just right.
The best ones you get at Marwari weddings, provided iyou do get invited to one. They make the pale, colourless, mini, crisp jalebis right in front of you. Piping hot, they are good enough to make you lose count of the numbers polished off ! Honestly, they are really tiny..
But for those who don’t get invited to lavish weddings? Not to worry for there is hope..
Jalebi junction towards the end of Baner, and close to Dmart is fantastic. Piping hot, this man makes it in hot ghee. Yes, It is a long wait, as he makes each batch fresh. You can’t wait to get your hands on it. You turn impatient, as you stand there, waiting for the ghee to heat up to the right temperature and then he begins to draws those little spirals in the ghee. They are then taken out at the appropriate time, before they’re soaked in sugar syrup. This is for just a minute, if am not mistaken. Then comes the brown paper bag and Voila, you are instantly transported to Jalebi heaven.
Yes my aficionados, I have had the Ghantewalle Jalebi in Chandni Chowk Old Delh,i and it is fantastic. They are fat little fellows, but so crisp and simply melt in the mouth.
Mithas in Aundh used to make decent ones too years ago and of course, now there are several Jalebi wallas dotting key localities in Pune. After all, it is a breakfast item for people from the North. I Guess it provides the required energy for the day..
You get them of course,in every sweet shop, but the sheer experience of the Jalebi is enjoyed best, practically straight from the Kadai.
Years ago to my utter surprise, and dare say shock I saw Jalebis at an presumably Arabic sweet shop near Moulin Rouge in Paris of all the places. But back then then I still believe the Jalebi was Indian. Honestly it just doesn’t matter. Indulge.
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