May Your Year Be Filled With Jalebis

Old and Famous Jalebi Wala, Chandni Chowk

It’s time to right a terrible wrong.

For the past two years or so I’ve been a regular in Old Delhi, delighting in the wonderful street food – most weeks I’m  either checking up on a new dish,  gorging on an old favourite, begging for recipes or stocking up on crockery for our Uparwali Chai tea parties. We always take visitors for a quick spin and recently  I’ve been doing a few  food tours too.

Whatever the excuse (and I need very little excuse to jump on the Metro to Chawri Bazaar), there are a couple of places I always visit.  At Bade Mian in Lal Kuan I scoop up a week’s supply of the best kheer (rice pudding) in town;  I never miss  korma at Ashok and Ashok; I gorge on Daulat ki Chaat whenever it’s in season and I always, always come back with a big bag of  sticky, sweet, still-warm jalebis from Old and Famous Jalebiwala.

All of these I have written about droolingly, except one.  Amazingly, I have never mentioned Old and Famous. Time to make amends.

An Old Delhi landmark, Old and Famous have been dishing up jalebis since 1884 when Nem Chand Jain, a hawker from Hirraiy Ghari  near Agra decided to try his luck in the capital.  The shop has been in its current location, on the corner of Chandni Chowk and Dariba Kalan since 1890 where it continues to be  one of the busiest shops in the old city. Theirs is the ultimate sugar hit: a sweet I savour and crave, deep-fried coils of batter drenched in sweet, sweet syrup.

Happily, Nem Chand’s  great grandson, Abhishek, who now runs the shop, is not one to bear a grudge.  I asked him today for their  recipe and  while he wasn’t quite ready to give away their secret formula in its entirety, he did give me  a fair few clues.

Abhishek Jain of Old and Famous Jalebi Wala

Firstly, their jalebis are made from the simplest of flour and water batters, thick enough to be piped through a hole in a muslin cloth, then left to ferment overnight. Arvind Chauhan, who has been making the Old and Famous jalebis for over 25 years, pipes hundreds of perfect concentric circles in seconds, thousands every day.  The crisp brown jalebis are then tipped into a sweet syrup and the magic really begins.

Arvind Chauhan of Old and Famous

Most jalebis are smothered in a simple sugar/water syrup but the Jains like to spice things up a bit.  To make their syrup, first they dry roast up to 16 different spices – I guessed cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black cardamom – what else do you think could be in there? – before adding some ghee, sugar and water.  And just in case it isn’t sweet enough, a dash of sugar cane syrup! When the syrup has thickened it has a reddish colour from the spices so some milk is added to lighten it.

Sugar, spice, ghee and deep-frying, no wonder I can’t keep away.

All the very best to the Old and Famous Jalebi Walas for 2011 – and to Eat and Dust readers, I wish you a Jalebi-filled year!

Old and Famous Jalebi Wala, corner of Chandni Chowk and Dariba Kalan. Jalebis, rs 250/kg                                                                                                               Samosas rs 10 each

A petal message at my children's school this morning




43 thoughts on “May Your Year Be Filled With Jalebis

  1. Those jalebi’s look absolutely yummy, crispy and sweet. Its a pity (or maybe a good thing) its not available where I live . Flour/water batter seems simple, perhaps I will experiment someday.

  2. Three Cookies – a good jalebi is a beautiful thing although sometimes these ‘simple’ things are harder than they look to pull off at home!

  3. Thanks Tami – by the way all your Crate and Barrel goodies have been coming in very handy recently at the tea parties – one of the cupcake recipes has become a fixture! Happy New Year. Pamelaxx

  4. Hey Pamela….what a sweet start to the new year !!!
    And I get my share of crisp & hot Jalebis here as well in Kuwait in a shop right next to my home…

    Wishing you many more Jalebis & innumerable other gastronomical delights in 2011…Have fun & Cheers to Life…


  5. Wish you and your readers a very very happy new year.
    May each moment of the the year be as sweet as the Jalebi’s you mentioned.

  6. Old n Famous Jalebi Wala..A Tru Delight!!
    Have visited this place Hellllll no. of times..N sure its sm Xtra sweeet bt another of their Jalebi’s Distinguishing feature is its Size..i ve NVR seen That Huge a Jalebi anywhere else 😮 😮
    Remember one instance of havin that thing while it was Drizzlin..Gt my hands on the Jalebi after atleast Half an Hour of waitin..such was the demand. Bt that moment was of sheer Pleasure n Victory 🙂
    Gosh..m gonna miss havin my college at Delhi-6 😦

  7. Happy new year to you Pamela. Your blog keeps reminding me that my decade long planned trip to eat at Old Delhi is due. Till then need to do with the jalebis at Mumbai’s Fort I guess

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  9. Apart from eating hot Jalebis , one more great way to eat Jaebi is to keep a Jalebis in a shallow saucer , immerse it in milk ( room temp) and let the JAlebi absorb milk. From a crisp spiral it will turn into a soft sponge. It is delicious dear friends. !

  10. Hi Nishant – glad to hear you’re not jalebi-less in Kuwait. Have a wonderful 2011 – hope we’ll see you in Delhi this year? x

  11. Three Cookies – it’s also that these guys have been doing the same thing for years and make it look simple!

  12. Hi Pamela.Stumbled upon your blog via twitter and so happy about live in hometown!!I was gazing thru your blog & was soo happy to see chandini chowk & sarojini nagar ! wow..those Nem Chand jalebis are yum..I love them with slightly sour plain yogurt!
    Following u now! Love your blog..its nice to see opinions of people about India ;)Happy New Year!

  13. Jalebi !! Jalebi!! That too from old Delhi, you realize how lucky u r right? U can hang out on streets of old Delhi and indulgence in all the great street food Me Envious! 🙂 Happy New year Pamela, Have a street food filled 2011!

  14. Hi Pamela,
    There’s nothing like a hot and sweet jalebi on a cold Delhi evening!
    Will be in Delhi around 19/20/21. Any chance you would be doing a food tour or uparwali chai around that time?
    Here’s wishing you a year of sweet treats (and no elastic waist bands) this year :)!

  15. hi pamela,

    wish tojoin your upper wali chai…or similar foodie outing…pl. advise when will it be next..:)
    A very happy new year to you…filled with Jalebis and all wonderful foodie pleasures..of delhi…:). Neeraj.

  16. Have been looking forward to attending one of your uparwali chais and eating the real versions of the knockoffs I try from your column :). But I will be in Jaipur for the festival that weekend and will miss it.
    Today’s gajar halwa muffins look lovely. Would love to try them even though the Bombay winters are not crackling and so the carrots are not as sweet!

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