Seems like not so long ago, around this time of autumn, when, suddenly streets of Guwahati starts getting busier, shops look glitzy and glamorous than usual, like a canvas splashed with beautiful colors all around. Yeah! it’s the time again to celebrate Durga Puja. People have already started making their preparations and shopping for new clothes, shoes, jewelry etc. Temples white washed, workers busy with their tools constructing beautiful majestic puja pandals. It’s a feeling of a thrill to witness such sights while passing by the streets of Guwahati. To me, the streets looked no less than a grand wedding with the gorgeously dressed up bride. The idols have been made in the workshops of Panbazar make me reminisce, “what an amazing craftsmanship!”.
It’s been several years now since I have celebrated Durga Puja in Assam. Sitting here, far away, from that one festival, so full memories, sights, smells and what not, makes me go wild while thinking, salivating and swallowing hard, hanging in between my nostalgic feelings of Durga Puja celebration during my childhood and longing to participate in the grand celebration in my own land with my family. Though this is not possible, we are fortunate enough to be able to celebrate it here in Bahrain with equal devotion, grandeur, and traditional pomp.
Waking up to the crisp autumn morning with the mellifluous chants of Mahalaya, activating my ears and the invigorating fragrance of xewali phool( midnight jasmine, gave that Devine feeling while getting dressed up for school.
The thrill and excitement of upcoming long holidays, shopping for Durga puja, pandal hopping and relishing all puja delicacies, street food like aloo chop, egg-rolls, singara, kochuri and the staple or must have of this festival is the piping hot jelepi.
Drifting down my memory lane to those four days festive spirit, starting with Saptami morning. Eagerly waiting for pandal hopping wearing a new dress to get the first glimpse of the beautifully ornamented idol of MAA DURGA and offer our prayers and gratitude to the Goddess.
The beat of dhak and dhol( a musical instrument), with the lingering smell of burning incense and dhuna( a part of Hindu custom and is believed that burning of incense stick and dhuna purifies the air). There would be several stalls outside the pandal selling flowers, saki( earthen lamps), toys, food like singara, chop, jelepi etc. Maa stops by the stall to buy some flowers, saki and dhoop, while my eyes are glued to the other stalls especially the piping hot Jelepis.
Durga Puja and jalebi are inseparable. The charm of eating jalebi – singra after pandal hopping is a kind of ritual for the people in Guwahati and something that I miss here so much.
All good things must be shared, and that’s what I believe. Sitting down sipping a cup of kadak ginger tea I thought of sharing my bagful of nostalgia along with my staple Durga puja delicacy of Guwahati – The Jelepi/Jalebi recipe.
- 1 cup refined flour
- 3/4 cup urad dal
- 1/4 Tsp of baking soda
- 1 pinch of Eno salt
- 1/4 Tsp of orange food coloring( optional)
- Few strands of Kesar
- 3/4 cup water or as required
- Ghee(clarified butter) or oil for frying
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2-3 tbsp lime juice
- 4-5 cardamom pods
- Soak the urad dal for 3-4 hours. Then grind it into a fine thick paste and keep it aside.
- Sift the baking powder and flour in a large bowl. By adding water from a nice smooth batter
- Then add the urad dal paste into the flour batter and combine very well to give a smooth batter not too thin and just the pouring consistency.
- Now add the food color if you wish, but I prefer to use Kesar( saffron) for color.
Finally, add the Eno salt and give it a good mix. your batter is ready for frying.
- Heat the ghee/oil in a large pan. While the ghee gets heated, meanwhile you can prepare the sugar syrup.
- For sugar syrup: add the sugar, cardamoms, and water in a large sauce pan over medium. Keep stirring the sugar until one string consistency. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice into it while stirring it.
- Now to check the ghee/oil is hot enough, put a small drop of the prepared batter. if it bubbles and rises up your oil is hot enough for frying.
- Pour the batter into a piping bag with a small round nozzle or tip. Here, I have used a bottle with a small nozzle which is actually much handy and convenient. Now squeeze the batter in a circular motion forming a spiral shape into the hot oil. Repeat the process to fry 5-6 jalebi at a time or as the space in your pan permits.
- Fry both side until nice golden color and crisp over medium heat.
- Take the jalebis out from ghee once done and put it into the prepared sugar syrup
- Let the jalebis soak in the sugar syrup for a minute and take it out on a plate.
- Garnish it a sprinkle of cardamom powder and kesar( safron) strands.