Jalebi: The Indian sweet beloved by Jason Derulo

What is a Jalebi?
Who would have thought that Jason Derulo would make one of our favorite cooking videos? But he did! With a quick cut of his jalebi-making journey with posted on TikTok and Instagram, he demystified the jalebi for his fans who didn’t know about the sweet South Asian snack, and delighted those who did. The video wasn’t just a friendly cooking lesson for his fans: it was a promotion for his remix of Canadian-Indian rapper and Bollywood star Tesher’s “Jalebi Baby.” The music video on YouTube has nearly 200 million streams, and is featured in some 4 million TikTok videos. It is surely a catchy song, but the thing that really makes the video sweet: all those jalebi!

What is a jalebi?

Bright orange coils, shining with syrup, jalebi are one of the most popular sweets in South Asia. They are also enjoyed throughout West Asia and in North Africa. Jalebi are ribbons of flour dough fried and soaked in sugar syrup, flavored with saffron and cardamom and often tinted with orange food coloring. They are at once chewy, juicy, and crispy, and they are a favorite snack for both everyday and special occasions. Jalebi are loved not just for their taste but their significance. In India, jalebi are comforting everyday treats bought at sweet shops. But they are also also steeped in tradition. People eat jalebi at their most important occasions including Holi, Diwali, and Eid. In some regions in India, it is eaten warm as a breakfast food, but in most areas it is eaten as a dessert. It’s enjoyed straight up but also dipped in yogurt or milk. There are regional and cultural variations on the treat. In Iran, where this recipe is said to have originated and can be dated to the 10th century. It’s called Zolbiya and flavored with saffron and rose water. In Bangladesh, they are called Jilapi and served to mourners at funerals, and in Pakistan they often are served at weddings and festivals.

How to make jalebi

If you’re interested in trying jalebi, you can join many Indian-Americans in ordering them online, or better yet finding a local Indian store that sells them. But the most fun option is to make them yourself! This March and April 2021, the sweet, delicious Jalebi is being featured on www.bakitbox.com. Subscribe and try them out for yourself! First subscription box is free with code SPRINGFREE And yes, you CAN make your own jalebi, and it’s fun and easy to do. (Just ask Jason Derulo!)

Ingredients for making jalebi

All jalebi recipes have three components.
  • Batter
  • Syrup
  • Oil to fry them in.
Some traditional recipes include adding yeast to the batter and fermenting it, but most people — including Jason Derulo — go with an instant method that forgoes the fermentation phase.
The batter includes flour, water, and sometimes a third or fourth ingredient for texture, like rice flour, baking powder, corn flour, or yogurt.
2. Sugar syrup
There isn’t much variation in the sugar syrup recipes for jalebi
  • Sugar
  • Lemon
  • Water
  • Cardamom
  • Sffron, though most recipes note that the saffron is optional.
Another optional ingredient is food dye to ensure that bright orange color.
3. Oil for frying
Recipes call for frying your jalebi in either oil or ghee, which is clarified butter. Your choice!

Equipment for making jalebi

Integral to making your own jalebi at home is a way to make that signature swirl. Traditionally, the batter is piped out of a cloth with hole in it called a jalebi cloth. It looks very similar to a pastry bag. But this isn’t necessary. In our BāKIT Boxes, and in Jason Derulo’s video, he uses a squeeze bottle like you might use for ketchup or mustard. The recipes we studied all recommended using either a piping bag or a condiment bottle. You’ll also need a mixing bowl to make the batter, a pan for the syrup, and of course the pan for heating the oil and frying the jalebi.

Three authentic Indian jalebi recipes to make at home

  1. Instant crispy jalebi by Khushboo, Carve Your Craving Khushboo, who grew up in India and now lives in the U.S., began making jalebi when she couldn’t find a version in U.S. shops that tasted like the ones of her childhood — they were either too sweet or not fresh enough!
For her batter, she uses all-purpose flour, rice flour, water, baking powder, and ghee for frying (she says the ghee makes for the crispiest jalebi). Her sugar syrup has sugar, orange food coloring, cardamom, and saffron.
  1. Jalebi recipe by Swasthi Shreekanth, Swasthi’s Recipes Swasthi, an Indian food blogger in Singapore, writes the that consistency of the batter is the key to making the best jalebis. Her recipe calls for maida (which is regular flour), corn flour, turmeric, curd (yogurt), lemon, and ghee for frying. She puts sugar, lemon, saffron, and cardamom in her syrup.
  1. Jalebi by Hetal Vasavada, Food & Wine Hetal writes that the most important thing to remember when making your own jalebi is to keep the syrup warm and to immediately drop the deep-fried coils of dough in the syrup. The key to a good jalebi, she says, is making sure the dough soaks up every drop of that delicious syrup! Her recipe calls for all-purpose flour, cornstarch, water, full-fat yogurt, baking soda, orange food coloring, and vegetable oil for frying. She also puts puts sugar, lemon, saffron, and cardamom in her syrup.
  If this interesting South Asian dessert sparked your interest, check out our subscription boxes and make your own delicious global treats at home with www.bakitbox.com!
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