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Jalebi

Jalebi is a popular spiral shaped, deep fried indian sweet made with a batter of flour, cornstarch, yogurt and yeast.The batter is deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup long enough to sweeten it but not let it turn soft. Its crispy and sweet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 25 jalebi

Ingredients

For the Jalebi

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast (or 1/2 tsp instant yeast)
  • 3 tbsp warm water (only when using regular yeast)
  • 1 cup maida (all purpose flour)
  • 1.5 tbsp  cornstarch
  • 1.5 tbsp besan (fine ground gram flour)
  • 1.5 tbsp melted ghee
  • 2 tbsp whole plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • Pinch ground saffron
  • 2-3 drops orange color
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup luke warm water (or as needed)
  • Oil for frying (You can add 1-2 tbsp ghee for nice aroma) or fry in ghee itself

For the Sugar Syrup

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • green cardamon pods (or 1/3 tsp green cardamom powder)
  • 7-8 saffron strands
  • Optional Flavorings - rose water,kewra (screwpine water)

Instructions

Prepare the Jalebi Batter

  • In a small bowl, add of scant pinch of sugar and 2-3 tbsp of warm(not hot) water, dissolve active dry yeast and let sit for 5-8 minutes. Let the yeast bloom (you should see froth on top).If the yeast does not bloom, discard and start the batch again. If using instant yeast, no need to dissolve, use as it is.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift the maida, besan and cornstarch. Add the ghee and yogurt to the flour. If using instant yeast, add right now, else add the bloomed yeast water mix, and slowly add luke warm water to make a smooth,lump free batter. Add the water a little at a time and incorporate.The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with a cling film and set aside in a warm place to ferment for 2-3 hours. (The batter will ferment quickly, about 1-2 hours during summer months but could take longer during winters) Do not disturb during fermenting.

Make the Sugar Syrup (10 minutes before you start frying jalebi)

  • In a medium,wide pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, reduce the heat, add the cardamom and let simmer for 6-7 minutes so that the syrup thickens up  a bit. We are not looking for any string consistency here but if you take a tiny drop of syrup in between your thumb and pointer finger, it should feel sticky and not watery. Once the sugar has simmered and thickened, add lemon juice, stir and put off the heat. Wait for 2-3 minutes and then if you are using saffron or any other flavorings, add it to the sugar syrup. Let sit warm near to where you will fry up the jalebis.

Make the Jalebis

  • Use the widest pot or wok or pan that you have in your kitchen to fry the jalebis. I use my 12" skillet.Pour 1-2 inches of oil in it and let heat up on medium heat.
  • At the end of two hours, the fermented batter will not exactly double up in volume but you would see that it is much more light and fluffy than what we started with. Once fermented, do not mix the batter much. We want it to remain airy and fluffy. Just cut and fold once or twice using a spatula (just the way we handle cake batter) and pour it into a squeezable bottle.Try to squeeze the batter out of the nozzle, it should come out like a tooth paste from a tube. If you feel that the batter is thick, add a little water for the right consistency or if the batter is thin, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and mix gently so that there are no lumps.
  • To test the right temperature of oil, drop a small quantity batter in the oil, it should come up sizzling to the top but without changing color (if batter changes color, reduce heat and let the oil temperature reduce a bit). Squeeze the batter out of the nozzle, applying constant pressure and making 3-4 concentric circles in the oil and sealing them in the middle. Work from inside towards outside. It takes time and experience to get proper shape and it gets better and better batch after batch. Do not fry more than 6-7  jalebis in a batch. Once you have piped the jalebis in hot oil, in 2-3 seconds they will come floating up, flip and let turn golden on the other side too. Once golden, take out from the hot oil, tilting the frying spoon so that excess oil is drained.
  • Add the fried jalebis to the warm (not hot)syrup. Let soak for not more than 25-30 seconds and take out again tilting the ladle to drain excess syrup else they will break and turn soggy.
    Fry up all the  jalebis and soak in syrup. Serve warm with cold unsweetened yogurt.