The spiral way to a sweet bite: Good old Jalebi/Jilipi/Jilawii/Zulbia
There is something about sweet crunchy things and then there is something about sweet sticky crunchy spiral things. That thing is Jalebi. Before the spiral jalebi twist your neurons let me tell you it is easy to make and you can have fun making jalebis! Yes jalebi is easy to make, well almost. A simple batter of plain flour and water fermented over some hours either with yeast or without yeast and then deep fried in oil and finally dipped into flavored sugar syrup-and then the world has jalebis.
Well I have fantastic memories with jalebis, some of them take me back on my school life while some take me back on distant mornings when my dad would brings jalebis on his way back home from the local market and it was such a high moment for me being a kid. Not that jalebis don’t get me high now, they recently did when I made them for the first time in my life, so I was pretty excited that day.
Back to the time when I was in school, our school used to serve us snacks around the middle of the day, that was one unique thing about our school. Some days they will serve us something savory while some days they will serve us something sweet like jalebis! Right inside the school premises and adjacent to the big green football field there was the complex where our mid-day snacks used to get prepared; there were series of rooms with men busy preparing food for all the students, which was a huge task. While kids from other school used to envy us for this we felt it was an asset. Even the school bunking kids would show up around the mid-day so they can get their snacks! Food is powerful ;)
Some days the great cooks from our school would surprise us by making jalebis! We used to call them Tiffin-man, in the Tiffin time all the students would queue up along the corridor of the complex, the students walking away collecting 3 jalebis in his hand, he was being watched . And to tell you our beloved Tiffin-man made big fantastic jalebis n not just jalebis they made everything made tasty for us. Thank you our Tiffin-man, for you all did a very good work.
Do you know that jalebi is popular not just in India but equally in the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran- in fact Jalebis are popular across the middle-east Asia, Northern and Eastern part of Africa. So if you haven’t tried it yet you know just what to do. In India Diwali is coming, just around the corner, on 23 rd October this year and Diwali and Jalebi are very good friends together. So I am thinking that on this Diwali if we want to give it a sweet personal touch and make it extra special you know what we should all do? Yes!!! Make jalebis at home, there is nothing quite like it huh!
The origin of the jalebis in India perhaps can be traced to the medieval time, during the time of the Persian invaders. In Iran jalebi is known as Zulbia, in fact a 10th century cookbook over there gives several zulbia recipes, in the 15th century India jalebi has names like ‘Kundlika’, ‘Jalavallika’.
So this makes me think the hands of the jalebi is pretty long, it has won hearts in so many countries , in Iran it is ‘Zulbia’, in India it is ‘Jalebi’/’Jilipi’/’jilapi’, in Egypt, Syria, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon it is ‘Zalabia’ /’Zalabiya’, in Bangladesh it is ‘Jilipi’, in Maldives it is ‘Zilebi’, in Nepal it is ‘Jeri’, in Algeria and Tunisia it is ‘Zlebia’ /’Zlabia’.
Now since the shape of the jalebi is like spiral and overlapping and complicated it is even in metaphor like if someone who has a complicated heart or brain we sometimes that ‘Oh! Your heart is like a jalebi!’, and at times since our intestine is also twisted n a bit spiral so when someone is having a wicked idea secretly and sensing that we say ‘ummm... there are spirals in your stomach like the jalebis’.
Now I will simply give you the recipe. Fry on.
For The Recipe: You will need
Come on now! Crunch on, Happy Jalebis to you. Bon appétit. J