by Rachel Kelly

deep-fried whirls of coloured batter are soaked in a tart and sweet sugar syrup

Jalebi are popular across the Indian sub-continent and may well have origins in medieval Persia. These deep-fried whirls of coloured batter are soaked in a tart and sweet sugar syrup. They are very popular at parties and celebrations, especially Diwali, as they often look a bit like a firework explosion!

I have used beetroot powder from Spice Mountain, which gives these sweet cakes a lovely deep pink colour. You could use turmeric for colour, although be careful as too much can taste a bit musty. Alternatively, use a good natural food colouring such as yellow, red, orange or pink to give your jalebi batter an explosion of colour.


For the batter:
190g plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp gram (chickpea) flour, sifted
1½ tsp baking soda, sifted
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ghee, melted (or clarified butter)
250ml water
2 tsp beetroot powder or 4 drops natural food dye (yellow, red, orange or pink colouring works well) Light vegetable oil, for deep frying

For the sugar syrup:
340g sugar
250ml water
¼ tsp ground cardamom, ground cinnamon or mixed spice
1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice 


Combine the sifted plain flour, gram flour and baking powder with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir in the melted ghee and food colouring. Add a little water to form a thick but smooth batter. It should have a pouring consistency.

Make the sugar syrup by heating together the sugar, water, ground spice and lemon or lime juice until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Simmer until the syrup begins to slightly thicken—this may take about 10 mins. (The citrus juice helps to prevent the sugar syrup from crystallising.) Keep warm while you prepare the jalebi.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or deep-fat fryer.

Fill a piping bag with the batter. Squeeze the piping bag over the hot oil in a swirling spiral or coil shape. Don’t worry if you can’t get perfect concentric circles or even a neat shape, as this takes some practice. No matter how untidy your shape is, it still tastes good and adds to its charm!

Deep fry until crisp and lightly coloured, flipping them over once to ensure that they cook evenly. Don’t overcrowd the oil—it will be necessary to cook these in batches. Drain the jalebi on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

Dip the jalebi in the warm sugar syrup, turning once. Let them sit in the syrup for about 1 min.

Best served slightly warm, though they will stay fresh in an airtight container for about 5 days.

Recipe: Rachel Kelly