Friday, April 20, 2012

Jalebis - Pakistan's Answer to the Funnel Cake!

Kind of? That's how I sold it to my daughter's preschool, and the kids bought it ;) Like soft-crunchy, orangey, pretzel-shaped funnel cakes. I was presenting at Fun Friday at her school last week - every Friday they learn about a different country, and I went in to teach them about Pakistan, complete with goodie bags, Pakistani decor and jewelry, and of course, Pakistani sweets. I took in mango juice since my people looooove their mangoes, and tried my hand at making Jalebis, which I was ridiculously proud to manage! Am still bragging to my mom about it, trying to slip it into casual conversation: "The girls are cranky today . . .maybe I can make some more jalebis." Although my mother is perfectly aware that neither of my picky pickersons ate them. But, she's my mom, so she then launches into an appropriately gratifying string of praise. 

Jalebis (cobbled together multiple recipes found on the web):

All-Purpose Flour – 1 cup
Cardamom Powder – 1/8 tsp
Instant Yeast – 1 tsp
Cornstarch – 2 tsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Yogurt – 1 Tbsp
Warm Water – 3/4 cup
For Syrup:
Sugar – 1 1/4 cups
Water – 1 cup
Saffron – pinch
Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

1. In a mixing bowl, add Flour, Cardamom Powder, Instant Yeast and Cornstarch. Mix thoroughly.
2. Add Oil, Yogurt and Water and mix well until there are no lumps.
3. In a larger bowl or pot, add very warm water and place the mixing bowl with the batter inside the larger bowl (be sure that the water does not fall into the batter). Cover the larger bowl and allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes.
4. After the batter has been resting for 15 minutes, start on the syrup and start to pre-heat oil for frying the jalebi.
5. Syrup: In a heavy bottom pan, add Water, Sugar and Saffron. Cook for 15 minutes on medium heat.
6. Reduce flame to a low simmer and add Cardamom Powder and Lemon Juice. Mix.
7. Mix the fermented jalebi batter well and put it in a ketchup or mustard bottle with a spout.**
8. Squeeze out the batter into the hot oil in approximately 8 small circular motions. Jalebi should about 2-3 inches in diameter.
9. Fry until the bottom side looks golden and flip once to cook the other side.
10. With tongs, remove jalebi, shake off excess oil and place directly into sugar syrup.
11. Allow jalebi to remain in the syrup for just about 15 seconds (flipping to coat both sides), shake off excess sugar syrup and place onto a plate lined with paper towels.
12. Continue frying remaining jalebis.
13. Enjoy them hot for optimal taste or allow them to cool and store in a container with a tight fitting lid. Jalebis will remain fresh for 4-5 days unrefrigerated.
NOTE: About mid way through the frying process, turn off the stove for the sugar syrup so that it does not become too thick.
**I had a hard time getting the thick batter into the ketchup bottle using a funnel - it was too thick. I ended up putting it into a ziploc bag, cutting a corner, and then piping it into the ketchup bottle. By ketchup bottle I mean the red ones at restaurants, with the thin spout - I had some leftover from making and storing paints, and had purchased them from Wal-Mart. 

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