Jalebies or Jelabees or Jalabees or… How the heck is it spelled?

10 February 2006

On the way home from the shopping and such, we stopped at Bombay Sweet House and Fahim picked up some jalebees. Also spelled jalabis or jalebis. They’re an Indian sweet.

“Jalebee or the honey rings are made from fermented wheat flour, deep fried in ghee (clarified butter), then dipped in heavy sugar syrup.”

They’re really good – addictive. 😀 I think it’s flavored with rosewater, but I’m not positive. Orange essence?

Anyway, we get back to Fahim’s parent’s place, and Fahim’s mom whips out the jalabees, which I’ve been reading about for years (The Far Pavilions by M M Kaye) and have been wanting to try for forever. So, imagine my absolute and profound delight that this is what Fahim picked up. 🙂

It’s sweet. It drips sweetness. And yet, it’s goooood.

Because my OCD dictates that I must have a recipe, whether I ever make it or not, I looked. I found one recipe only, repeated on a few different sites, but I’m not convinced it’s authentic – the recipe calls for cheese (not specified whether that’s cheddar or mozza or yoghurt cheese or what), which, other than yoghurt or curd cheese, was not, I believe, used in India until fairly recently.

At any rate, here it is.

Instant Jalebies


  • 1 1/2 cup Flour (Maida)
  • 1/2 tsp. sifted Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup fresh Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Water (blend together with curd)
  • 70 grams Cheese – grated
  • Oil for frying


  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tsp. Milk
  • Pinch of Saffron


  1. Mix together the blend yogurt and sifted flour. Blend in the Cheese. Whisk briskly and keep aside for 15 – 20 minutes.
  2. Now start making the syrup by boiling the sugar and water. Add the milk and remove the scum from the surface. Boil till you get a syrup of ‘one thread’ consistency.
  3. Heat oil, preferably in a non – stick frying pan. Put the Jalabi mixture in a plastic bag or piping nozzle and pipe 7 cm rings in hot fat. Fry till golden and immerse in warm syrup for 5 – 7 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes about 12.


If any of you have a recipe for Jalebies, Jalabis, Jalabees, or whatever variation of the spelling you use, or have a link to a good recipe on the internet, please please please please please let me know.

3 Responses

  1. #1

    another recipe can be found at this link:

  2. Hi there,

    Any tips on where to get saffron in Colombo? I’ve looked in Borella market and the various supermarkets but can’t seem to find any. Is it the sort of thing that you get in Pettah?


  3. #3

    I have not seen saffron in Sri Lanka.

    However, what I probably did not know at the time I wrote this post is that, in Sri Lanka (and, I’m told, also in India and possibly elsewhere in the region), turmeric is frequently called saffron, so that may have been the intent. 🙂

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About LMAshton

Howdy and welcome to my site! I'm Laurie and I'll be your, er, hostess today. :)

I'm a Canadian expat currently living in Singapore. I'm married to a Sri Lankan and lived in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. We also lived in New Zealand for half a year.

I cook Sri Lankan curries, sambols, and mallungs. I bake bread using wild yeast (sourdough that isn't sour). I bake on the stove. I experiment with Indian / Malaysian / Indonesian / Thai / whatever cuisines interest me. And I experiment wildly.

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