I have been craving sweet, thick, soft, beautifully fermented jalebis for a long, long time. Since six nights now. One would think that the craving would be easier to satisfy in Delhi - a place renowned for food and desserts. But the thing is, I don’t like the jalebis made here. They are too thin and crisp. Probably, that’s why they are more treacly than sweet. I guess that makes these thin squiggles excellent accompaniments with hot milk. But, I don’t enjoy the snap and crunch of these thin, flat jalebis. They remind me of recalcitrant aunts - these wafer-type crackles.
What I love are the soft, largeish, thick, fat jalebis of Mumbai. They are almost soaked to their core in chaachni and flavored discreetly with cardamom. Your teeth sink into the syrupy sponginess, past the golden syrupy crust. Then you reach a spot that is mellow and soft. Like the big, generous aunt who always gave you extra helping of ice-creams when you went to visit. You chew it with a little dribble down the chin and it is so heavenly.
I wonder where I can find such jalebis here.
I asked around. Most of the people pointed me to Evergreen in Green Park which makes jalebis as thin as ginger-snaps. The other recommendation was Haldiram. Just for the record, I dislike Haldiram a lot. A L-O-T. The aloo tikki had kaju-kishmish and something else that could have been either paneer, khoya, maava, or sooji. It was horrible. (If you have to speculate between 3 food groups to determine what exactly is going into your mouth, the experience is bound to be unsatisfactory.) Once before I had tried the Raj Kachori and the curd may as well have been rabdi, considering the amount of sugar they had put in it.
Coming back to my hunt for jalebis.
The people I asked have all been born, bred and corrupted in South Delhi. So, besides Evergreen and Haldiram, they know of no other halwaais, because, you see, no-one eats jalebis here. There’s the Hot Chocolate something at Nirulas or some other death by chocolate stuff at Barista or Flavors.
Or the other sweeping referral is ‘Old Delhi’. “Go to Chandni Chowk”, they say, sipping their expensive whiskeys. “You get that sort of stuff there.”
Now, “that stuff” is literally what is keeping me up at nights. Hopefully, this Sunday, I will go to Old Delhi. Chandni Chowk. My dream will be sated there, they say.