Goddess Durga has arrived and it is festival season again, not that I feel much like it sitting ten thousand miles away from home. Back home, there is a festive spirit all around and people are gearing up to celebrate the season that is marked with several other major festivals. That warmth, the excitement, fasting and feasting,family reunion, markets full of puja items, shopping malls full of crowds, the rush, new fashion clothes, full blown shopping and those giant skeletal pandal structures that in a few days will be the most beautiful and ornate puja pandals and the home of Maa Durga for the next ten days.
I will welcome Maa this season with this sweet dish. Jalebi is always special for me. Whenever we used to visit our grandparents' place (which was every year) especially for durga puja I remember we used to get jalebi and kachori and aloo chana ki sabji from the roadside halwai... almost everyday... this used to be my favorite breakfast... jalebi with rabdi... was on the top of the list of everyone and how all my cousins used to fight for that last piece. Sometimes my mother and aunts would make it and all of us children would huddle up in the kitchen and be curious and all excited waiting for the treat. Now sitting here and writing this post I so miss those wonderful carefree childhood days. The pampering.. unconditional love of grandparents, the crowd, gossip, laughter, food everything. Still now when I go back to India, mom makes jalebi and hot sabji and kachodi... and I eat them to my heart's content.
Cooking a traditional recipe specially for festivals always warms me makes me happy and also makes me all nostalgic. I miss them all. Here in my kitchen when alone... cooking something like this and there is no one always there to taste, chat... but the aroma of cooking, the warmth of festivity makes me feel at home again... sometimes I just get sad and homesick but then I call mom and ask for a recipe... multiple times... try to recreate... jump with joy when it works... sad when it doesn't and call her again to let her know the outcome. We laugh over the phone, sometimes cry that we are so far away from each other especially during festivals. But again now I have the sweetest and the most caring man in the whole world who is my sous chef, my taster, my food critic, my everything and with him our little bundle of joy... everyday feels like a festival and keeps me going!
I followed mom's 'world famous' jalebi recipe. For the rabdi however I took the easy route and made it with ricotta cheese in the microwave. Jalebi or zalabiyah in arabic is an Arabian sweet which is very very popular in the Indian subcontinent. It is made by deep-frying batter in a kind of pretzel or circular shape, then soaked in syrup. It has a crunchy and crispy outer shell and is soft juicy inside which makes for an interesting combination of textures when you bite into it.