During the childhood, celebrating Republic Day and Independence Day was all about relishing a platter full of hot and crispy Jalebis with some chilled Rabri on the top. While celebrating the day of being a proud Indian we never knew that Jalebi that is an inseparable part of the national festival is actually not Indian. Shocked! Yes, you heard us right. Our very own crispy, hot and sweet jalebi is unfortunately not Indian in origin. Read below to know the history of jalebi and its diversified faces.
If we go by the oldest reference of jalebi, it was mentioned in the 13th century by a noted writer of the time, where he featured all the dishes of the time in a cookbook titled, ‘Kitab al-Tabeekh’, and jalebi was mentioned as ‘Zalabiya’ with its origin in West Asia for the very first time. During the medieval time, Zalabiya was introduced to Indian cuisine and became an inseparable part of festivals and celebrations. The makeover from Zalabiya to Jalebi happened in the 15th century when the Jain author Jinasura talked about it in the famous scripture called Priyamkarnrpakatha.
3. The diverse face of Jalebi
When William Shakespeare had said ‘What’s in a name’, we somehow feel it was meant for our favourite Jalebi too. Irrespective of the ingredients, the magic lies in the universal flavour that the sweet orange dish has with names like ‘jilbi’, ‘zelapi’, ‘jilipi’, ‘jilapir’, ‘jahangiri’, and ‘pak’, in West Asia. Generally made with all purpose flour in India, it is also made with rice flour, wheat flour, semolina and besan in certain parts of the world.
4. The art of making Jalebi
Mostly consumed in Asian countries, and with a history of more than 500 years, the spiral shaped dish is made with the batter of all purpose flour (maida), cardamom powder and kesar. The thick batter is placed in a muslin cloth cone with a small opening at the end and is then squeezed to make spiral shapes in the wok filled with refined oil or ghee. Deep-fried to golden-brown colour, the spiral shapes are then soaked in the sugar syrup and served with a dollop of chilled rabri.
Just like samosa, jalebi is also not ours but look at the coincidence that they both are an inseparable part of the Indian cuisine. This reminds us of the flavourful combination they both make as a morning breakfast delight or even as an evening snack after an exhausting day. It speaks volumes about how we as a nation are open to accepting and assimilating the good things of other cultures!