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"Jalabi" redirects here. For the village in Iran, see Jalabi, Iran.
Awadhi jalebi.jpg
Jalebis as served in India
Alternative names Jilebi, jilawii, zoolbia (Middle East), jeri (Nepal)
Course Dessert
Region or state Middle East, South Asia, East Africa, Philippines (selling in Ermita)
Creator South Asia
Main ingredients Maida flour, saffron, ghee, sugar
Variations Jaangiri or Imarti
Cookbook:Jalebi  Jalebi
Jalebi being prepared in a roadside shop in Bangalore

Jalebi, Jilapi[1] or Jilawii (and sometimes Zulbia[2]) is a sweet popular in countries of South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and East Africa. It is made by deep-frying a wheat flour (maida flour) batter in pretzel or circular shapes, which are then soaked in sugar syrup. They are particularly popular in South Asia during Ramadan and Diwali.

The sweets are served warm or cold. They have a somewhat chewy texture with a crystallized sugary exterior coating. Citric acid or lime juice is sometimes added to the syrup, as well as rose water or other flavors, such as kewra water.

This dish is not to be confused with similar sweets and variants like Imarti and Chhena jalebi.


Names for the dish include Marathi जिलेबी Bengali: jilapi; Telugu: జిలేబి; Kannada: ಜಿಲೇಬಿ; Punjabi/Urdu: جلیبی‎; Sindhi: جلیبی; Sinhala: පැණි වළලු; Pashto: jalebī; Tamil: ஜிலேபி; Pashto: ځلوبۍ‎ źəlobəi; Persian: زولبیا zulbia; Lurish: زله‏یبی zuleybi; Arabic: zalābiyah or zalebi (Egyptian Arabic: لقمة القاضى lokmet el-kadi); Tagalog: Jalebie (Pronunciation: Halebi) .


Jalebi batter being dropped in hot oil. Howrah, West Bengal

Jalebi is believed to be derived from a similar dish of West Asia. According to Hobson-Jobson, the word jalebi is a corruption of the Arabic zalabiya or the Persian zalibiya, the name for a similar dish. In Christian communities in West Asia, it is served on the Feast of the Theophany (Epiphany), often with dry sugar and cinnamon or confectioners sugar. In Iran, where it is known as zulbia, the sweet was traditionally given to the poor during Ramadan. A 10th century cookbook gives several recipes for zulubiya. There are several 13th century recipes of the sweet, including the one in a cookbook by Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi.[3]

The dish was brought to medieval India by the Persian-speaking invaders.[4] In 15th century India, jalebi was known as Kundalika or Jalavallika.[5]:262 Priyamkarnrpakatha, a work by the Jain author Jinasura, composed around 1450 CE, mentions jalebi in the context of a dinner held by a rich merchant.[3][5]:37 Gunyagunabodhini, another Sanskrit work dating before 1600 CE, lists the ingredients and recipe of the dish; these are identical to the ones used to prepare the modern jalebi.[6]

Ernest A Hamwi, a Syrian immigrant to the United States, is believed to have used the Persian version zalabia as an early ice cream cone.[3]:404

Geographic distribution[edit]

Jilapi in Bangladesh, generally consumed as a sweetmeat, happens to be one of the popular starters in different parties.
Zulbiā and bāmieh in Iran, a close dessert to Jalebi.
Close-up of a Jalebi

In Iran, Jalebi is known as zulbiā (زولبیا) in Persian. In Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Iraq, it is known as "zalabia" (زلابية) (sometimes spelt "zalabiya").[7] In the Maldives, it is known by the name "zilēbi."

This sweet is called "jeri" in Nepal, a word derived from Jangiri, and the Mogul Emperor Jahangir.[8]

In Algeria and Tunisia, this sweet is known as zlebia or zlabia.

Zlebia (Maghreb)[edit]

Zlebia or zlabia (Arabic: زلابية) is a type of pastry eaten in parts of Northwest Africa, such as Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

Natural ingredients include flour, yeast, yoghurt, and sugar. This is then mixed with water and commonly two seeds of cardamom (oil for the crackling).


Zalābiya are fried dough foods, including types similar to straight doughnuts. These are found in and around Iran and the Arab countries of Yemen, Egypt,[9] Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Comoros and Algeria, as well as Israel, where it was brought by the Yemenite Jews and Iraqi Jews. They are made by a zalbāni. Zalābiya are made from a batter composed of eggs, flour and milk, and then cooked in oil.

Zalābiya mushabbaka are latticed fritters made in discs, balls, and squares. They are dipped in clarified honey perfumed with rose water, musk, and camphor. A recipe from a caliph's kitchen suggests milk, clarified butter, sugar and pepper to be added.[this quote needs a citation]

Zalābiya funiyya is a "sponge cake" version cooked in a special round pot on a trivet and cooked in a tannur.[10] They are often stick shaped. They are eaten year-round, including in expatriate communities such as France, where they are especially popular during Ramadan celebrations.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Round and round for the best jilapis
  2. ^ Festival Feasts
  3. ^ a b c Alan Davidson (21 August 2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. pp. 424–425. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7. 
  4. ^ Michael Krondl (1 June 2014). The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin. Chicago Review Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-61374-673-8. 
  5. ^ a b Anil Kishore Sinha (2000). Anthropology Of Sweetmeats. Gyan Publishing House. ISBN 978-81-212-0665-5. 
  6. ^ Dileep Padgaonkar (2010-03-15). "Journey of the jalebi". The Times of India. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  7. ^ Recipe for Zalabiya
  8. ^ Jalebi khani
  9. ^ Maya Shatzmiller Labour in the medieval Islamic world page 110
  10. ^ Translated by Nawal Nasrallah Annals of the caliphs' kitchens: Ibn Sayyār al-Warrāq's tenth-century Baghdadi cookbook Volume 70 of Islamic history and civilization Edition illustrated 2007 ISBN 90-04-15867-7, ISBN 978-90-04-15867-2 867 pages BRILL page 413-417
  11. ^ Hadi Yahmid French Ramadan About Solidarity IslamOnline
  12. ^ "Double Dhamaal". IMDB. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]