I want to learn how to make more South Asian desserts, just because I am always eating them but I don’t ever really make them.
So I decided to make jalebi.
I feel like jalebi is something I don’t see that many videos or recipes on, especially on TikTok and Instagram. But it’s actually pretty easy to make, so let’s make it!
What is jalebi?
If you are here, I’m assuming you already know what jalebi is.
But in case you have no idea, let me give a quick explanation.
Jalebi is a popular dessert or sweet in South Asia. This might be arguable but I actually think it is one of the most popular ones. Just because I feel like any occasion, any event, there is always jalebi there. There might not be any other dessert, but jalebi will be there.
That’s why I’m surprised that there are not many videos on it, I only really see gulab jamun videos.
I digress, it is essentially just a batter that has been dyed either orange or yellow.
This batter is then swirl in hot ghee, or I just used oil. It is fried until crispy and then soaked in a sugar syrup.
When you eat fresh jalebi, it is so warm, juicy and crispy, it’s so good!
The sugar syrup
The first thing we are going to make is the syrup.
The reason why we make this first is because when we add the fried jalebi into this, we want the syrup to be warm, not hot.
So making it first gives it a chance to cool down a little.
There are the ingredients you will need for this:
- Granulated sugar – caster sugar works too.
- Cardamon – I prefer to use whole cardamom pods, these give the best flavour. But you could also just use cardamom powder.
- Saffron – for some flavour, but mainly to make it smell nice.
- Rose water – also to make it smell nice.
For this syrup, all you really need is the sugar and the water. Everything else is optional, they are just there for flavour and aroma.
It’s up to you what you want to add, you can flavour this syrup however you want.
To make the syrup, all you do is boil the ingredients for about 2-3 minutes, just until the mixture thickens slightly.
The jalebi batter
There are 2 ways to make a jalebi batter.
Traditionally, a jalebi batter is fermented for some time, this gives the jalebi more flavour.
However, out of the recipes I have seen, people don’t really do this as much. Instead, they just add yoghurt to the batter; this gives the same tanginess that the fermentation gives.
I tried both ways and I could not tell a difference. The yoghurt really does make the flavour the same, or similar at least.
So today we’re not fermenting the batter, we’re taking the faster route.
Ingredients for the batter:
- Plain flour – also known as all purpose flour.
- Corn flour – also known as cornstarch. This is going to help make the jalebi crispy.
- Baking soda – this will help them puff up slightly, as they fry.
- Water – to help the batter get to the right consistency.
- Yoghurt – use plain full fat yoghurt. This is also sometimes called natural yoghurt.
- Food colouring – for colour of course.
When making this batter, you just whisk everything together. You want your batter to be slightly thick, but still pourable.
Can I leave the food colouring out?
Jalebi is usually either orange or yellow. To get this colour, food colouring is used.
If you didn’t want to use food colouring, you could also used turmeric powder. This will give the batter a slight yellow colour.
Or you could leave it out, the colour adds nothing to the taste. But personally I feel like it’s not jalebi unless it’s orange or yellow.
Frying the jalebi
You can either fry your jalebi in vegetable oil, or ghee.
Ghee will give you a much nicer flavour, so if you have enough, use it. But I just used vegetable oil.
You want to fry them in oil or ghee that is at 180c.
If you don’t have a thermometer, to test the oil, just add a few drops of the batter into it. If these start gently bubbling and rise to the top, the oil is ready.
If they don’t start bubbling, the oil is not ready. Let it heat up for longer. If they start aggressively bubbling, the oil is too hot. Turn the heat off and let it cool down for a few minutes.
Forming the shapes
To form the shapes, we’re going to use either a squeeze bottle or a piping bag. A squeeze bottle does make things a little easier, but use whatever you have.
Just squeeze the batter into the oil in a circular formation.
This is not the easiest thing to do, it does take some practice getting perfect swirls. I did not get perfect ones at all, but either way they will taste great.
I find it much easier to only fry 1 or 2 at a time. These don’t take long to cook, so frying 2 at a time won’t make the whole frying process extremely long.
They only need to be fried for about a minute on each side. They cook pretty much straight away, we’re just waiting for them to become crispy in the oil.
Once fried, put them in your warm syrup, let them soak for 30 seconds, then they’re done. Keep doing this until you’ve used all of the batter!
Storing the jalebi
Jalebi always tastes best fresh, this is when they are the most crispiest and juiciest. So it is better to eat them straight away.
But if you wanted to store any left over ones, just put them in an airtight container. They will last at room temperature for about 3 days.
They will start to lose some of their crispiness, but they’ll still taste great!
Here are a few other recipes I think you should also try:
- For the sugar syrup:
400g granulated sugar
5 cardamom pods
A few strands of saffron
1 tablespoon rose water
- For the batter:
120g plain flour
20g corn flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
100g plain yoghurt
Plus some orange or yellow food colouring
Vegetable oil or ghee to fry
- Making the sugar syrup:
- In a pot, add the sugar and the water. Get your cardamom pods and break them open slightly so that the seeds are exposed. Add these into the pot, along with the saffron.
- Give this all a stir, then place onto medium heat. Let this come to a boil, then leave it to boil for about 2-3 minutes. You just want it to thicken slightly.
- Take this off the heat and mix in the rose water. Cover and leave aside.
- Making the batter:
- In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the batter. Mix until you get a smooth batter.
- Pour this into a squeeze bottle or a piping bag.
- Frying the jalebi:
- You want to fry your jalebi in oil or ghee that is around 180c.
- To fry, squeeze the batter into the oil in circular motions. I find it easier to just fry 1 or 2 at a time.
- Fry them until crispy, they don't need long, they only need around a minute on each side.
- As soon as they come out of the oil, put them into your warm syrup. At this point your syrup should be warm, NOT HOT. If it has cooled down too much, heat it up slightly.
- Let them soak in the syrup for 30 seconds, then take them out.
- Keep repeating this until you have fried and soaked all of your jalebi, then they're done. Eat whiles they're warm, enjoy!