Jalebi or Jangiri

A favorite sweet of India, it has two avatars—Jalebi in the north and Jangiri in the south!

The stacked up towers of this orange-hued sweet seen in the streets of Indian cities and towns, attracts gourmand consumer from morning till late in the night. The jalebi has existed in the Indian subcontinent for the past 500 years or so. It is an Arabian sweet that is made by deep-frying fermented, floury batter in a circular shape with decorative whorls and then soaked in sugar syrup. One of the earliest known references to the sweet appears in a Jain work — ‘Priyamkarnapakatha’ — by Jinasura circa 1450 BCE. This was cited in cookery books including the 17th-century classic, ‘Bhojan-kutuhala’ by Raghunatha. It is served warm or cold.




2 cups                           Flour/maida
1 ½ tablespoons           Fine grained semolina or rice flour
¼ teaspoon                   Baking powder
2 tablespoons               Curds (plain yogurt)
1 ¼ cups                     Warm water
½ teaspoon                    Saffron threads, dry-roasted, powdered
3 cups                           Sugar
2 2/3 cups                     Water
½ teaspoon                  Cardamom powder
1 ½ tablespoon             Kewra or rose water
2 cups                          Ghee or vegetable oil for frying


  1. Mix the flour, semolina or rice flour, baking powder, curd and ¾ cup of the water in a bowl. Thoroughly beat the ingredients into a batter with a whisk.
  2. Add remaining water and 1/8 teaspoon of saffron powder and whisk until smooth.
  3. Set aside for about two hours to ferment. Whisk thoroughly before use.
  4. Prepare string syrup by dissolving sugar in the water. Add saffron and cardamom powder just before switching off the flame.
  5. Make an eyehole in a thin muslin cloth bag.
  6. Heat oil in a wok or deep saucepan.
  7. Pour the batter into the cloth bag and let it flow in a steady stream into the hot oil. Make a couple of circles first and then cover them up with overlapping whorls. Make four or five in batches. Deep fry until golden and crisp all over but not brown.
  8. Remove from the wok and drain on kitchen paper.
  9. Immerse and leave the jalebis in the sugar syrup for at least 4-5 minutes so that they soak the syrup.
  10. Drain and serve hot by heating them up in the microwave or on a griddle. It is served with curds/yoghurt or milk.

 shutterstock_363974477Jaangiri or Emarti
This is the south Indian variant of the jalebi. This sweetmeat was introduced during the Mughal rule. So it is possible that the word comes from Jahangir!!

It is made with a special variety of urad dal called jalebi paruppu (dal).


¼ kilo                              Urad dal -whole, skinned
1 tablespoon                      Rice flour
2 to 3 drops                          Food Color (saffron)
1 cup                                   Ghee/Oil – to fry
2 cups                                  Sugar
Few drops                            Rose essence
1 teaspoon                         Cardamom powder
For garnishing                      Sliced Almonds/Pistachios (optional)


Sugar syrup

  • Dissolve and heat sugar and water in a pan.
  • Boil the syrup till it reaches one-string consistency.
  • Add cardamom powder, saffron and rose essence.


  1. Soak whole urad dal in water for 4 hours.
  2. Drain the water and blend urad dal into a fine batter.
  3. Add the rice flour and food color and pulse till it is completely integrated.
  4. To check the consistency of the jangiri batter, put a drop in water. It should float.
  5. Pour the batter into a icing bag or a piece of cloth with a tiny buttonhole stitched into it. You can use a Ziploc bag with a hole pierced in one corner.
  6. Heat oil/ghee that comes up to about an inch in a wok or flat saucepan.
  7. Press the jangiri batter and form two circles. Then form a lacy whorl in a geometrical pattern over the circles and deep fry it till crisp.
  8. Dip the fried jalebis in the sugar syrup until it expands in size and soaks up the sugar syrup. Serve hot or cold.
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Padmini Natarajan calls herself Dame Quixote for she is forever tilting at windmills! A storyteller, poet, columnist, blogger, editor and journalist, she has specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. She has worked for over 15 years as Part-time Language Editor and Writer of manuals, curriculum textbooks and other material with an E-education organization, EZVidya/Chrysalis that is aimed at empowering Teachers, Students and Parents. She taught Vedic Heritage at Kalavardini to children from the ages of 3 to 14 and written and directed skits and plays. She won the Gourmand Special Jury Award in Paris in 2009 as co-author of ‘Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine’. Her book of short stories - ‘Crossroads: Stories from South Indian Lives’ - has good reviews on Amazon. Padmini has been concerned with paying it forward with her involvement in organizations like Sneha, a suicide prevention NGO, Canstop, Cancer Support group and many women’s organizations. Her other passion was acting, on stage, TV and screen. She is a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff, a music maniac who listens to Golden Oldies and has a strong Facebook presence. Nowadays she is an armchair activist and world traveler from the safety of her home. Quite the hypochondriac, she is exploring spiritual enlightenment through Vedanta and loves to spout philosophical thoughts to unwary audiences.