A couple of days ago in lieu of Bakri Eid, I decided to try my hand at making Jilebis, a very delicate and syrupy Indian dessert best eaten hot. That is, if you’re lucky to be around someone making it fresh – which is pretty rare these days. So I did make them, and the jilebis came out perfect – like my grandmother made, if I may add. They were tender crisp and ‘glassy’ from being drenched in a perfect syrup. Luckily the syrup did not crystalize or it would have resulted in a dull opaque looking Jilebi.
I was ecstatic when I took the first bite. Perfect crunch was followed by the oozing of the unctuous sugary liquid. I felt so proud and immediately snapped a couple of shots of my masterpiece and texted them to my family in Zimbabwe. I basked in the glory of the numerous ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aaahs’ I received from them. So with great comfort I share this recipe with you.
To make the Jilebis
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup plain fat free yogurt
3/4 cup water
a few drops of orange color
Place the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Pour in the yogurt, 1/2 cup of water and the orange color.
Whisk to combine.
If the batter is too thick, add the rest of the water – a little at a time.
The mixture should resemble an ‘easy to pour’ smooth pancake batter.
If needed, add more water a couple of tablespoons at a time.
Set aside while making the syrup.
To make the syrup
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
a generous pinch of saffron
Pour the sugar and water into a heavy based, deep saucepan and stir.
Add the saffron.
Place over a medium high heat and bring to a simmer.
DO NOT go anywhere.
Test the constancy of the syrup every few minutes by testing a few drops of the cooled liquid between your fingers.
The syrup, when almost ready should feel slightly slippery and a bit sticky.
Pinch your forefinger and thumb tougher and gently spread them apart. One thread of syrup will form but immediately break apart. This is called half-thread consistency.
Immediately take the syrup off the heat and keep warm.
Frying the Jilebis
3 cups canola oil
Pour the ghee and oil into a deep frying pan and place on medium heat.
While the fat is heating, pour some of the jilebi batter into a clean plastic ketchup or mustard dispenser.
Test the oil by pouring a couple of drops of batter into the pan.
If it starts sizzling and immediately surfaces. The fat is ready.
Gently squeeze the batter into the fat in a circular motion at first, to create a circle, then spiral inward to create a jilebi shape.
All the while not breaking the continuity of batter.
Fry the beautiful spirals for a minute on each side.
Immediately dip into the warm syrup and turn over after a minute.
Remove the syrup drenched jilebis and arrange in a steel tray to cool.
Do not put into a closed container as this will ruin the texture of the jilebi.
Simply cover with a net.
Best eaten on the same day.
Tip and Memories
Maa, my grandmother and my dad’s mum, made these umpteen times when we were growing up. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to celebrate Eid at home after many years. Maa, insisted on making some jilebis whilst I was there. I obviously did not resist and was rewarded with the perfect jilebis that I adored as a child.