The Holy Grail called Jalebi..

More stories from India. My little Sunny boy was a very picky eater till his previous trip to India. During our last visit, when he was just about two, we visited India and he fell in love with the food. It was wonderful to see him explore the restaurant Masale Dose, initially with suspicion and then experimenting with all sort of combinations -with chutney, with sambar, with both and with neither. Then there were the Gobi Machuris, Chilli Panner, Noodles and the other Chinese restaurant staples and finally the Dhabha staples like Naan, Panner and surprisingly Kalmi Kabaab. However he did not seem to have a sweet tooth. It was just Gulab Jamoon for him especially the giant but absolutely tender and warm Khoa ones in Lucknow. This trip was not as long as our previous trip so he did not get to eat out as much as I would have wanted him to.  In the two years since our last visit, he has acquired quite a sweet tooth and now in his list of favorites are Jalebi, Kaju Katli, Rasgulla  too. We had quite a lot of Jalebis. But It was never enough. I have been trying to make some at home because it is his favorite food and we do not always get to go to Sukhadia's to get their awesome Jalebis. Making some at home sounded reasonable. My grandmother was an expert at making Jalebis. Every Deepawali that was what she made. I had asked her for the recipe long back, but I did not write it down and now she is senile and her recipes are not fool proof as it used to be. So I had to do a lot of trial and error.

Jalebis  are not a straight forward affair.  They need to crunchy and almost uniformly hollow  where the sugar syrup eventually enters and settles down making the Jalebis heavenly and sweet. There should be a discernible hint of tartness in the background plus it should remain crunchy after a while. That is  a lot to wish for in a dish with a handful of ingredients out of the cupboard and needs no special equipments either. But to get to the end product that meets my specification and that is appreciated by my little Sunny boy is not easily at all. I have seen them all in my previous attempts, the soggy ones, the flat ones, the somehow-smells-off ones. But now I think I am getting there. A few more times, we should be good enough. On my list is to try bread flour and use the beater.

We will need,

All purpose flour (Planning to try bread flour too, will update the result)  1 measure
Yogurt 1/4 measure
Turmeric a pinch
Sugar 1/2 tsp for every 1/4 cup of flour
Corn starch 1/3 measure
Sugar 1 measure
Saffron a pinch
Ghee to deep fry

  • Mix the flour, turmeric, yogurt and a little water to make a dough that resembles a very thick custard.
  • Stir in the sugar and set it in a warm place to ferment, preferably over night so that it develops  the much desired tartness.
  • Once the batter is well fermented, stir in the corn starch and beat the mixture very well. It is something like kneading the bread dough. Keep stirring the mixture till it is fairly elastic. Set it aside to rest for another or so hour.
  • Mean time combine the sugar and equal quantity water and simmer till the syrup reached the one thread consistency. (That is the syrup pulled between the thumb and forefinger should form a single thread.) Throw in the crushed saffron and set it aside to cool.
  • Now heat the Ghee.
  • Beat the Jalebi batter well once more and fill it into squeeze bottles. Gently squeeze Jalebi spirals into the hot oil and fry till golden brown of both sides. 
  • Remove the Jalebi and place it onto paper towels to drain it well. 
  • Once the Jalebi is well drained, pop it into the sugar syrup. Soak the Jalebi in the sugar syrup for a few seconds and remove to a serving dish. Serve warm for Breakfast with warm milk, else as a dessert with Rabdi.

Tomato Tovve

Wishing all my readers a very happy new year. I spend the fag end of 2013 back home in India with my loved ones.  We spent some good time together, ate great food and yapped to our heart's content.  I realize that when I am here, I always refer to India as 'home', when I am in India, I refer US as 'home'. I guess the is the true sign of an expat! To think of it, we Indians we always global citizens. If we ignore the past century or so we were always outward looking. Thousands of years ago our ancestors traveled to far away places in all directions for trade, religion etc. It was just this past century that we lost our true self, we imported inward looking socialistic and left-leaning ideas. It never was us, so it did not take deep roots and here we are again in the spirit of our ancient ancestors truly global Indian.

This time I visited Bangalore and Mysore. Mysore has a special place in my heart, it is the place that I lived the longest till date. I wanted my Sunny boy to have a piece of Mysore too. Raju hotel being no longer in operation, we had to go to GTR for Masale Dose, unfortunately they do not serve Sambar with their Dose. Sunny boy was disappointed. But he really enjoyed their Noodles! He had a gala time at the Dasara Exhibition, Mysore zoo and not great but good time in Nanjanagudu and Chamundi Betta.  We had a delicious Jolada Rotti oota at Kamat Manuvana right in front of Manuvana which is the Royal burial grounds (in simple terms that is..)

On a more somber note, it was also just a few weeks after the death of the Maharaja and there were tributes on every street and gully. Dasara will never be the same without him, but time is indeed the greatest healer, Dasara will be go on....

For now it is some Tomato Tovve. It is not our regular Tovve, but something similar to what my Akka makes, which she picked up from her in-laws.

We will need,

Toor dal /Togari Bele  1/4 cup
Tomatoes 2
Turmeric a pinch
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Ginger 1/4 " piece
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Chili powder 1/2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Dhania powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Lemon wedges to serve

  • Wash the dal in several changes of water and place it in a pressure cooker. Add about 2 cups of water, the two whole tomatoes and a pinch of turmeric. Cook the dal till it falls apart. Remove from heat and let it cool
  • Chop the ginger garlic and crush it in a mortar-pestle. Set it aside.
  • Heat ghee in a wok. Throw in the mustard and jeera. Once they stop spluttering, add the ginger garlic paste. Cook for a few seconds and turn off the heat. Then add the dhania and chilli powder. Stir and let it cook in the heat of the wok for a few more seconds. 
  • Once the spices are fragrant, pour it into the cooked dal. Place the dal again on low heat. Using the back of a heavy spoon, mash the tomato well. 
  • Combine the dal, the spices mixture and tomatoes gently and adjust salt. Heat it thoroughly and serve with rice, pickles, papads and lemon wedges.