Jalebi (जलेबी) are a type of Indian sweet – also found across a large part of the Middle East where they’re known by a number of different names, such as zalabiyah, zalebi or meshabek (مِشَبٍك).
They are not a particularly healthy snack as they are essentially deep-fried batter covered in a sugar syrup. The Guardian’s website posted a Jalebi recipe recently and the overriding message from the reader’s comments was: “This is clearly just a recipe for Type 2 Diabetes“. Not good. However, by making a few changes you can create a much healthier alternative. I swapped the ghee for light olive oil and made the syrup from heating clear honey instead of melting refined white sugar. You could even use a low-fat yoghurt in the mixture and just add less water later.
Find out how I made them below:
Makes around 12 Jalebi
For the batter:
85g plain flour
2 tbsp gram flour (or corn flour)
¼ tsp ground turmeric (optional)
⅛ tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml Greek yoghurt
A few tbsp water
For the syrup:
2 tbsp honey
Cardamom powder and rose water to taste
- Make the syrup by gently heating two tablespoons of clear honey with a small amount of rosewater and some cardamom powder – adjust these to your taste.
- For the batter, mix all the dry ingredients together and add the yoghurt to make a thick paste. Slowly add small amounts of water until the batter is thick but pipeable.
- Heat some light olive oil in a pan. It’s hot enough when a drop of the batter will instantly hiss and rise to the surface.
- Spoon the batter into a piping bag, cut the end off and quickly start piping swirls onto the oil. Fry for around 45 seconds on each side (or until golden) and set aside on greaseproof paper.
- Brush on some of the melted honey mixture and sprinkle with crushed pistachios. They’re best eaten straight away.
At this point, I feel I need to mention that I did this recipe twice and twice I forget to include the turmeric. It’s not an essential ingredient but if you Google images of Jalebi they are nearly always fluorescent orange because of the turmeric. Mine aren’t, and now you know why.
It’s a pretty simple recipe and barely takes half an hour from start to finish. I was really pleased with how they turned out, lots of flavour, crunchy texture and the syrup was so delicious I could have just eaten that by itself. The second attempt worked out particularly well, partly because I made sure they didn’t stay in the oil for very long.
I would love to hear about your attempts at making Jalebi or any unusual variations you might have tried. Suggestions about what to do next are always welcome too.
I’ve still got a few more Middle Eastern recipes up my sleeve so stand by for more posts soon!