Thick and juicy, it is food porn at its best. Jalebis, the golden-coloured rings of deep-fried maida batter, soaked in sugar syrup, fill the mouth with a warm liquid of such excessive sweetness that modesty blushes in shame. The diabetic may find joy in just looking at its preparation.
What Humayun’s Tomb is to Mughal architecture, Old and Famous Jalebi Wala in Chandni Chowk is to jalebis (Rs 250/kg). The legendary establishment (circa 1884; founder: Nemchand Jain) stands at the turning to Dariba Kalan. The big-bellied cook performs live in front of customers. Like a magician, he squeezes out the batter from the hole of a muslin cloth-bag; his hands moving in circles all across the wok-like karahi.
The white concentric circles of jalebi, swelled by the bubbling oil, gradually change their complexion to pale yellow, then to a golden brown shade. The cook is not done yet. Smoothly he turns the sticks so that both sides catch the heat equally. A little more sizzling before he draws out the jalebis from his giant ladle, and transfers them into an adjacent container filled with sugar syrup. The jalebis initially struggle to stay afloat but finally sink like a sea-wrecked boat as they are pressed in by more jalebis from above.
A minute later, the cook starts to take them out one by one, delicately tilting the ladle so that the extra syrup drips down. As you sink your teeth into the piping hot jalebi, its crisp surface breaks open to release gooey sweetness. There is so much juice inside that if not careful, it starts dripping from your lips. Your fingers get sticky. Some people try tempering jalebi’s extravagance by having it with milk or yoghurt. That is as impossible as taming a shrew.
Where: Dariba Kalan Rd, Chandni Chowk
Time: 8.30 am to 10 pm
Nearest Metro Station: Chandni Chowk
Paharganj Main Bazaar, next to the police station, is also a good place for jalebis.