Jalebis are small, bright yellow, web-shaped cakes similar to funnel cakes. They are popular celebration and street cakes in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and India. Soaking them in saffron syrup and then drying them gives the cakes a crispy outer shell. They are made with maida flour and Bengal gram flour, both of which can be found at Indian groceries.

1. Gather your ingredients

For the Batter

  • 1 tsp Active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1.5 cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Bengali gram, corn, or rice flour
  • 2 tbsp Melted ghee
  • 4 threads Saffron
For the Syrup

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 3 threads Safron

2. Make the batter

First, dissolve the yeast in 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) of lukewarm water, and let it sit for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours to combine. Then add the yeast, melted ghee (or butter or oil), saffron or food coloring, and 2/3 cup water. Stir until there are no more lumps and a thick batter is formed.

3. Adjust the batter (if needed)

It should resemble a thick, yellow pancake batter. If it is too thick, it will not come out of the dispenser correctly, and if it is too thin, it will be difficult to shape.

  • If the batter is too thin, stir in additional flour one tablespoon at a time to achieve the desired consistency.
  • If the batter is too thick, add a small amount of additional water, and stir well, adding more if necessary.

4. Set aside for 15 minutes

The yeast will work much more quickly to lighten the batter, and the batter can be used right away. However, your jalebi will be lighter if you let the yeast work for a while. Cover the batter and set it aside while you prepare the syrup for the jalebi, and heat the oil for frying.

5. Gather ingredients for the syrup

This recipe is for a saffron simple syrup. If you do not have saffron available, use a few drops of yellow food coloring to achieve the proper color. It is also common to add other flavorings to this syrup, including lemon, lime, cardamom, and rose water. Try the basic version first, and then experiment with your own additions.

6. Boil the syrup

Add sugar and water to a pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down until it is just barely bubbling. Cook the syrup until it reaches the single thread stage, or approximately 220°-222°F (104°-105°C). Watch the syrup carefully to make sure it doesn't burn. This should take around 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat.

7. Test the consistency

Sugar syrups used in Indian cooking are defined by their thread consistency. To test the syrup without a thermometer, dip a spoon or spatula into the syrup and lift it out. Wait a moment and carefully pick up a drop of syrup on your finger. Then touch your finger to your thumb and pull them apart slowly to see how many threads of syrup form. For this recipe, you want a single thread syrup.

8. Remove syrup from heat

Do this as soon as it reaches the desired consistency. Then quickly stir in your saffron or food coloring. Keep the syrup near at hand, as you will soon be soaking your hot jalebi in it.

9. Cooking the Jalebi

Fill a heavy-bottomed pot, such as a dutch oven, kadhai, or wok, with enough ghee or oil for deep-frying, between one and two inches. Heat the oil to between 360°-375° F (182°-190°C).

10. Load batter into dispenser

Give the batter a quick stir with a spatula, but do not over-mix. Then pour the batter into a clean squeeze bottle or condiment dispenser while the oil is heating.

11. Pour batter into oil

Using your dispenser, squeeze or pour the batter into the hot oil in coils or spirals that are about 2" wide. Only make 3-4 jalebi at a time to avoid crowding the pan.

12. Fry until golden brown

The batter will first sink to the bottom, but will quickly pop back up and float to the top. After a minute or two, flip the jalebi over so they cook on both sides. Then remove them from the oil and drain for a moment on paper towels.

13. Soak in syrup

Place the jalebi into the syrup while they are still hot, and let them soak for at least a minute, some people prefer up to 4-5 minutes. Turn the jalebi over once so both sides have a chance to soak. The jalebi should become thoroughly saturated with sugar syrup.

14. Remove and serve

If you wish to serve the jalebi warm, place the jalebi on a platter, or in bowls with a bit of syrup. Otherwise, remove them from the syrup and let then dry on a rack for several hours until the syrup forms a crust.

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