Meetha lovers’ special love for jalebi reigns supreme
Jalebi- the crispy, saccharine, orange swirls of dough that bring a ubiquitous smile on every desi’s face is shockingly enough not from South Asia. When I learned that, the fat Punjabi in me yelled in disbelief, “my entire life has been a lie! Jalebi is part of my Punjabi heritage.”
Jalebi is quintessentially desi but it actually originated from a completely different part of the world
Once the shock subsided, I soon learned that these crispy delights hail from Persia. Muslim invaders brought them to primitive India, where the locals embraced the sweetmeat and made it their own.
Jalebi is called zulabiya in Arabic or the zolbiya in Persian.
Thought the South Asian variety is sweetened with sugar, the Arabian delight uses a honey syrup for flavoring. Both varieties are extremely popular, especially during the month of Ramadan.
Confectionaries similar to the Jalebi include baadana
Instead of making swirls, the dough mix is passed through a ladle with several holes, yielding drops of fried batter that resemble small pearls.
Sindh has a special variety of Jalebi called Gheeyar
Also called The Jumbo Jalebi, Gheeyar is the mascot for Holi celebrations in Sindh and much larger in size than a Jalebi. The batter for Gheeyar is made with similar ingredients as a Jalebi, but the contents are left to ferment overnight. The batter is then poured into the hot oil as thin squiggles instead of the thicker spirals common to jalebis. Once fried, they are dipped in cardamom and saffron infused sugar syrup and adorned with slivers of pistachios, almonds and rose petals.
As much as Pakistani’s love freshly made, warm jalebis, the undying sentiment is that nothing beats doodh jalebi.
If you’re a patient person, you can soak your jalebi in milk overnight and have the combo cold come morning. Or if, like me, you prefer instant gratification, douse the sugary swirls in a bowl of hot milk.
You can eat this right away while the jalebi is still crispy or let the jalebi sit in the milk and become soggy
The latter converts the milk into a delicious pudding which can be had warm or cold depending on your preference. Some people leave the mixture in the fridge overnight and have it cold for breakfast next morning.
For chai-addicts like myself, I present the ultimate cure to hypoglycemic caffeine-deficient headaches that become a staple in the earlier days of fasting: Chai Jalebi.
Instead of warm milk, use boiling doodh pati. Consume the concoction hot, while the jalebi is still crispy. Aaahhhhh it’s so good, it’s nearly impossible to pull away. You may find yourself asking out loud: How much jalebi is too much jalebi? When the jalebi talks to you in your hyperosmolar delirium, it’s safe to say: too much jalebi.