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Excerpt from Food & Wine Magazine's "Diwali is a Festival of Sweet Delights" by Khushbu Shah, recipes by Hetal Vasaveda, November 2020.
Anytime around Diwali, you'll find golden, translucent, crispy, sticky, jewel-like jalebis in boxes stacked up high inside mithai shops and Indian grocery stores all around the world. Jalebi, a Persian-origin sweet that is popular in India, is a treat made from batter that’s drizzled into hot oil to deep-fry it, and then briefly soaked in a fragrant saffron- and cardamom-infused syrup. Typically, jalebi is made with a fermented batter, or attho, but in more modern times cooks have found a quick shortcut by using baking soda, eno (fruit salt), or lemons to acidify the batter. While making jalebi, the most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the syrup is warm and to immediately drop the deep-friend jalebis from the oil into syrup so that the jalebis soak it all up. If the syrup is too hot or too cold, the jalebi will not absorb the syrup and you'll end up with soggy jalebis, which will still taste good but won't give you the crispy texture you want. I highly recommend eating them fresh—there truly is nothing like fresh jalebi right out of the syrup!