Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say the word: Jalebi
If you’ve grown up in India, sometime in the 90’s, then let me describe this for you.
A sulking boy, his head sunk low, marches into a railway station. He throws his bag on to the bench and perches himself, continuing to frown. He tells an ‘uncle’ that he has decided to run away from home because everyone scolds him. But then, when he finds out that there are hot jalebis being made at home, his eyes light up, and he decides to abandon his plans of running away (just for another 20 years, that is!)
Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Let’s say that together now,
Here’s the iconic ad (in Hindi) for a not-so-healthy cooking oil, to refresh some old memories.
Jalebis are sweet orange bundles of pure sin—zero nutrition, and complete addiction. So I can understand why it is simple for people to fall in love with them. What I don’t understand though, is why they are almost universally prepared by the neighbourhood halwais (confectioners) only during the evenings. As I would find out, years later, this wasn’t as universal a truth, as I thought it to be.
* * *
We reached Allahabad in the morning, and my stomach was grumbling a little. “You want to get some breakfast? Let me treat you to the local speciality here.” It was our second trip to my in-laws’ house, about a month after our wedding—a new family, a new town, a completely new culture. I was expecting a very special something that would blow my mind. And blow my mind, it did!
“You know how jalebis are made only in the evenings in Delhi? Well, in these parts of the world, you won’t find jalebis in the evening. They’re made exclusively in the mornings. And they’re had for breakfast, with dahi (curd/yogurt).”
In my world, curd was meant to be had as is, as a cool refreshing dish; as a dip with savoury paranthas; as a main course with rice (thayir sadam, yum!); or as a dessert in mishti doi or lassi. But sour curd with jalebi? It just didn’t sound right. The mental picture of the two together, ruined both dishes for me. Sitting at a table at a local halwai, though, I saw several customers enjoying their jalebi dipped in curd.
Eventually, I tried it too. The point is, apparently, to lessen the sweetness of jalebis with dahi. So that you increase your capacity to eat more jalebis (yay, for cholesterol and sugar!) I get the logic. But the taste, I suppose, is an acquired one. Even after several attempts, I always end up relishing them separately.
I had often wondered how people could eat jalebis with rabri (sweet condensed milk). Oh, how the mere thought of that much sweet hurt! But try as I might, dahi with jalebi will be more of a mystery to me.
So which foods do you find difficult to understand?
Photo taken with Moto G3. Click/tap to enter my Flickr Photostream.
This is post #8 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging