1. Start with the batter. Mix the flour and cornflour together in a bowl with a pinch of salt, and mix the yogurt into 150ml water until smooth. Using a small whisk or fork, whisk the water mixture into the flour so you end up with a smooth batter. The batter should be a pourable consistency, similar to double cream. You might find you need to add an extra 25ml water. If using, stir in the food colouring to your liking – you’re looking for a strawberry-milkshake rather than red-rose colour. Once smooth, cover the batter and leave to rest while you make the syrup.
2. Put the sugar in a wide (this is important), heavy-based pan with 300ml water, the cardamom and saffron. Place over a low heat and allow the sugar to melt gently – once the liquid is clear, turn the heat up to a simmer and cook for around 5 mins until the mixture looks lightly syrupy. Take out a spoonful and dip just the pad of your forefinger and thumb into it (be careful, it’s hot), then rub them together – it should feel like Vaseline between your fingers. Once you have this consistency, turn the heat off but keep the syrup warm – put it back onto a very low heat for a while, if necessary.
3. To fry the jalebi, heat the oil in a large, wide heavy-based pan to 180°C when tested with a thermometer. Transfer the batter to a sauce bottle or piping bag. If using a piping bag, snip a 4-5mm tip off the end. Once the oil is the right temperature, pipe swirls of batter straight into it, keeping the nozzle pointing straight down. Aim for a swirl that’s 8-10cm wide, though you’ll find they can be a bit unpredictable. If the oil is the correct temperature, the batter should sizzle and expand as soon as it hits the oil. If this isn’t happening, heat it for a little longer.
4. Once you’ve piped 4-5 swirls in the pan, leave them to fry for 2-3 mins, gently flipping them over halfway through. They’re ready when they stop sizzling. Once ready, lift the jalebi gently out of the pan and hold them over the pan for a second for any excess oil to drip off. Carefully lay them down into the sugar syrup – they should gently sizzle – and leave them to soak for 2-3 mins before lifting out onto a serving plate. Continue with this process, working in batches, until you have used up all the batter.
5. Once the jalebi are cooked, scatter with pistachios and serve immediately.
Cook’s notes: These are very delicate, so don’t be surprised if you break a few, particularly if you’re not used to making them. There is enough batter to account for some breakages, so don’t worry – they make excellent chef’s perks while you’re cooking!
Make ahead: The jalebi should be eaten as soon as cooked for maximum flavour, so if you want to get ahead, make the batter and sugar syrup up to 24 hrs in advance. Chill the batter but leave the syrup at room temperature, and reheat the syrup before soaking the jalebi. The syrup needs to be warm or hot so that the jalebi soak it in properly.
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