Sweet North Indian Breakfast – Jalebi

Biting into the street side vendor’s jalebi, selling every day, with his hands moving rapidly swirling the batter over the hot oil, pulling them out and dipping them into thick sugar syrup, ready to be gulped into one’s mouth before the sugar crystallizes on the jalebi. But soon realising that the batter thus made for the jalebi has a bit of sourness from the yogurt added to ferment the batter.

Childhood jabeli treats accelerated fond memories of the sweet. For a family that would not eat outside food so often but getting a bag full of these perfectly deep-fried, crisps with a shine from the sugar syrup in which it is immersed to just the right decree, before being ready to be sold and consumed was truly an enchanting experience.

These little deep-fried pretzels piping out of a cloth bag over hot oil, could even be paired with saffron-flavoured rabdi or with a rather an odd combination of plain curd, which is quite a common breakfast in the state of Uttar Pradesh. One might with a bit of hesitation and resistance tastes the combination of jalebi with curd, and soon realizes that the sweetness of the jalebi was so balanced with the plain curd, making it even more delectable than alone.

One might think why a mighty debate on a very ordinary and common sweet, that too for one which is simply deep-fried and dipped in syrup and there is nothing complex about it, like a bottle of wine or a perfectly matured cheese? But it is not so, a person who has had a perfectly made jalebi, will vouch for its simplicity, yet difficulty in replicating it. To make a perfect batch of jalebi, the flavour of the batter matters a lot, so does the consistency of sugar syrup and also its perfect golden colour which comes after it’s fried in hot oil. If the jalebi is flat, chewy, soggy, it has got no right to be branded as a jalebi. A very important aspect also is the circumference of each spiral which determines the ratio of crunch to juiciness and sweetness.

The humble jalebi will not rather sweeten the mouth of the person. The only thing which really matters is the perfect fermentation of the flour and the yogurt batter and then the art of swirling the batter out of a piping bag into hot oil, frying them and later dipping them in thick sugar syrup and interestingly removing them just in time too.

Each city in the state of Uttar Pradesh has a few renowned sweet shops that open early exclusively to dish out this morning breakfast. Many also do it in the evenings as an evening essential. During winter months and especially on Sundays, when families are together at home, they do often plan to indulge in jalebi breakfast. Then there are aged people in cities of Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur, Pryagraj, Ayodhya and many other small and big cities of Uttar Pradesh for whom the day has to start with jalebi’s as an essential breakfast dish.

Jalebi is one dish that no one can ever say no to and then a good jalebi never induces a feeling of guilt.