The last few days, my drive back from work has been brighter than usual with buildings and malls all lit up. The markets are all full of people scrambling for last minute gifts. And any minute now, the air will get thick with smoke of firecrackers, the sky will light up with shooting stars. No wonder then, that Diwali is my favourite time of the year.
Our family has always bought rather than cooked Diwali sweets so we don’t really have a tradition of any special Diwali dishes. This year though, I wanted to create a special dessert. I chose to take on my favourite jalebi. Typically, jalebi spirals are deep fried and then immediately dunked into sugar syrup, making them way too sweet. When I fried my jalebis though, I added a tiny bit of sugar into the dough itself so they were lightly sweet. And then I spooned over an orange caramel sauce, adding some citrusy goodness. There is more sauce to dunk your jalebis in if you want them sweeter and to round off the hot jalebi with something cold, there is rabdi ice cream in the middle.
Have a sweet, fun-filled, happy Diwali everyone!
– 1 cup plain flour
– 2 tbsp cornflour
– 2 tbsp caster sugar
– 1/2 cup curd
– oil for deep frying
For orange caramel sauce
– 1 cup caster sugar
– 1 tsp white vinegar
– 1/2 cup orange juice
For rabdi ice cream
– 1-litre full fat milk
– 50 grams sugar
– 8-10 pistachio nuts
– 5-6 almonds
Start your jalebi dough the night before you want to make them. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients (except oil of course) and whisk well until you have a thick batter. You might need to add a tbsp or so of water if your batter is too thick but make sure it’s of dropping consistency like a pancake batter and not runny. Cover the bowl and set it aside to ferment. The next morning, you will see bubbles all over your batter. If you are not ready to make jalebis immediately, put the batter in the fridge so it doesn’t over-ferment. It can also take longer, unto 24 hours in fact, depending on your weather, so be guided by how your batter looks and if there are bubbles to show it is fermented.
Let’s get on to the ice cream now. Rabdi is nothing more than thickened milk and that’s exactly how we have made this one. Pour the milk into a large, thick bottomed pan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, then cook until the milk is reduced to half, stirring frequently. At this stage, add the sugar and coarsely ground pistachios and almonds. Keep cooking until the milk is reduced to 1/3rd of its original quantity and is quite thick. Chill, then churn in your ice cream maker as you usually do. Pop the rabdi ice cream back in the freezer until ready to eat.
To make the caramel sauce, put sugar and vinegar in a saucepan along with 1/4 cup water. On a medium heat, stir until the sugar dissolves then leave it alone. Watch the pan closely as the sugar bubbles and gets to a deep amber color. At this point, turn off the heat and immediately pour in the orange juice. Step back as the sugar will bubble over and it can splatter. Once the drama dies down, stir your caramel to make sure there are no lumps.
Heat oil in a pan. Put your jalebi batter in a piping bag, snip off the end and pipe rounds directly into hot oil. Fry until golden on both sides and serve immediately with a scoop of rabdi ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce, with more sauce on the side.