There's a traditional way of making jilebi that I just didnt bother with for two reasons: 1. I didnt have enough time. 2. I wasn't sure I could get the batter to ferment (kinda cold here now, plus see Reason 1 again).
So I followed a recipe (adapted only very slightly) from Bilbo of Smorgasboard for instant jilebis. I have to say it worked out rather well... Pete loved it (he even said it was as good as those from my favourite sweetshop in Birmingham - which, although not true, was very nice to hear!) and as for Rebecca, his daughter, she couldnt get enough of them.
Cant blame them, I love jilebis as well. They're one of the few Indian sweets that I can go on eating indefinitely... perhaps it's because they're not just tooth-achingly sweet but have a sour tang to them that comes from fermenting the batter.
Jilebis are lovely to eat crisp and hot, of course, but I especially love them the next day - I store them in the refrigerator - by which time they've lost most, but not all, of their crispness and gained a softness (and a sticky sugar glaze) that is just irresistible combined with the tangy/sweet taste. (I'm drooling here.)
Strangely enough, I dont like jangri, IMO jilebi's less attractive cousin, which starts out dripping with syrup and with a soft texture. (If anybody's thinking "jeez, what a fuss-budget she is" by now, I will gracefully admit to being one... sometimes.)
Anyway... back to my Diwali jilebis. Turned out I didnt have a proper jilebi press (press, mold, whatever), and my icing accessories had unaccountably gone AWOL. So I made do with a conical disposable plastic icing bag with the tip cut off, and poured the batter into it. Not the best idea, really - it kind of worked, but a good portion of the batter was wasted as it squirted out of the top and oozed down my hand and down the bag. It also meant that my jilebis turned out a bit wonky in shape. Then again, I'm not a professional halwai (sweet-maker) so they would have been shapeless no matter what I used.
I would suggest using one of the medium-size icing/piping nozzle to make jilebis... havent tried it that way, so I cant be more accurate. Odd, now that I think of it, but I havent actually seen jilebis being made so I dunno how the professionals do it!
Recipe for: Instant jilebi
For the jilebi
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp chickpea/gram flour
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup water (a few tbsp more or less as required)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Oil for deep frying
For the sugar syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tbsp rosewater
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom seeds
1. Combine the flours and yeast in a bowl, add enough water to make a fairly thick but pourable batter. Let this sit for 10 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice.
2. To make the sugar syrup, combine the water and sugar in a pan, stirring over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely.
3. Let the mixture boil briskly for 10-15 minutes and then turn off the heat.
4. Heat the oil in a wok. Fit a medium nozzle (not sure of size, but it shouldnt be one with a big opening, because the batter expands in the oil) onto an icing bag and pour the batter into it.
5. Squeeze the batter directly into the hot oil, looping the stream to make pretzel-shapes. Fry the jilebis one or two at a time (depending on the size of your wok) until a golden brown on both sides.
6. Drain and drop directly into the sugar syrup, soaking the jilebis for about 30 seconds each side.
7. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.