The deftness of his hands, the precision of his movements, the perfect shapes and the impeccable lining up put me in a near-meditative state. However, I was quickly shaken to reality by the stark contrast of my surroundings. The sweltering heat of the stove, the visible patches of sweat under his armpit and the restless hullabaloo of people to claim ownership on the next batch made me want to run away instead. Braving it all, Dad pulled me out and got us coveted our Sunday breakfast treat; jalebi.
Jalebi or Zalabiya came to India with the Persians and became an integral part of our food culture. Jalebis are deep-fried coil-shaped sweet treats made from fermented flour batter and then dipped in sugar syrup. They are crisp from the outside and juicy on the inside. Cardamom and saffron are generally added to the syrup for flavour and the lovely orange hue often associated with jalebis. They are famously served with creamy rabdi. Together, they are an awesome dessert option.
Let me elaborate the scene in the first paragraph a bit. You may get jalebis packed and delivered to you but hot-and-syrupy jalebis from halwais are truly the ones worth having. Ask any sweet lover and they would tell you. I’ve seen people create a ruckus to get their hands on the freshest ones, even coming in pairs so the other one can pick up the fafdas. Oh yes, besan fafda and jalebi is one breakfast Gujratis would give anything for.
My Dad is a jalebi-fafda person while A craves for jalebi-rabdi. They cannot have anything in common *rolling eyes* (apart from their love for me, thankfully). Clearly, I’ve tried both versions and am yet not sure which one I prefer to have. Why don’t I draw a line between them both pairs and just have the jalebi? My kids, both jalebi fans, wouldn’t mind digging in either. “Why should we eat one sweet with another?” A Jr had cutely asked A once. Poor guy had no answer. 😀 How would you make a 4yo understand food combinations?
Here’s a fun story for you. I and A got engaged in an elegant function in my hometown, Aurangabad. The spirited celebrations continued for two days. I was meeting most of his family for the first time and was filing them away in my mind carefully. The warmth with which everyone met me made me feel blessed. However, his elder cousin and his wife were the ones who still stand out.
I hadn’t had much opportunity to get some alone time with A during the entire ceremony. While all guests had started leaving, this couple and their 5yo son stayed back. They suggested that we, them and us, take the day off and explore some places nearby. That sounded like a good plan and we readily agreed.
We saw the Ellora caves and prayed at the Ghrushneshwar temple there and sought blessings at Hanumanji temple at Khultabad. We reached the Jayakwadi Dam at Paithan in the evening and watched the wonderful sunset together. Their son, one of the most mischievous boys I’ve met, hadn’t left my side even once the entire day. It tickled me when he called me Chachi and kept talking incessantly about his friends and school.
My relationship with this cute boy got sealed when we stopped at a restaurant for dinner. A jalebi lover, he took an entire plate for himself and generously asked me to join him. No one but me could have it and he would eat nothing else. While his mother kept insisting him to have proper food, I fed him jalebis and loved seeing him enjoy it. Then and there, he christened me ‘jalebi wali Chachi’ and still, a young boy of 18, teasingly calls me that. Guess what, I learnt to make jalebis and am waiting to feed them to him someday. 🙂
Amazing how a simple food item can create a lifetime of memories, isn’t it? Share some of yours with me too, please.
This post is written for #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge for April 2019