Jalebi: A Sweet Delight with Global Appeal

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Jalebi, a popular sweet snack, has captured the hearts of many across South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and even Mauritius. With its intricate coiled design and sugary sweetness, it’s no wonder that this treat has transcended borders and cultures.

Source: desicookbook

Origins and History

The origin of jalebi traces back to Ariana, which is modern-day Afghanistan. However, its early history is also rooted in the Middle East, particularly in a variety known as zalabiyeh. Historical records from the 10th century mention this food in the Arabic cookbook “Kitab al-Tabikh” by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq. By the 13th century, a similar dish was mentioned in a cookbook by Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi. The term “jalebi” is believed to have been derived from the Arabic word “zulabiya” or the Persian “zolbiya”. Interestingly, the journey of jalebi also intertwines with Jain literature from around 1450 CE and another Sanskrit work from before 1600 CE, both of which describe the dish in a manner similar to its modern preparation.

Regional Varieties While the basic concept of jalebi remains consistent, its preparation and presentation vary across regions:

  • Indian Subcontinent: In India, jalebi has even been mentioned in historical contexts, such as a method of poisoning prisoners in the 1800s. In Pakistan, jalebis are a staple at events like weddings and festivals. Nepal has its version known as Jerry, often paired with Swari, a thin fried bread.
  • Western Asia: In countries like Iran, jalebi is known as zoolbia and is flavored with ingredients like saffron or rose water. In Arab nations, the treat is called zalabiyeh or zalabia, with variations in its shape and flavorings, such as cinnamon and lemon.
  • Africa: North African countries have their version called zlebia or zlabia, made with ingredients like yeast, yoghurt, and honey. In Ethiopia, it’s known as Mushabak or Mushabaka.
  • Mauritius: Here, jalebi is referred to as “Gateau Moutaille”, showcasing its Indian origins.


Jalebi’s rich history and widespread popularity are a testament to its delightful taste and cultural significance. Whether you’re savouring it in the bustling streets of India or enjoying its variations in the Middle East or Africa, the essence of jalebi remains the same – a sweet that brings joy to countless hearts.


Sources: Wikipedia.

Article curated by Suwaytha Gopal