Apple Jalebis are a fun fall twist on regular jalebis that are special for any festival or occasion! They are made with rings of sweet honeycrisp apples, deep fried until the apples are tender on the inside but crispy on the outside, and soaked in a luxurious saffron cardamom rosewater simple syrup.
These Apple Jalebis are a little different from the orange, funnel cake-esque jalebis you may have seen. The batter is very similar, but it instead coats apple rings which are then fried in ghee until crispy!
The delicious pockets that form when fried that fill up with saffron syrup? Heaven. It creates a jalebi where the apple is soft and tender, but the outside is still crunchy. Each bite is juicy and the syrup is so so fragrant and flavorful.
They're delicious year-round, but especially during fall apple season! So if you find yourself with pounds and pounds of apples from a visit to the apple orchards, this is a great way to use them up for a sweet dessert. In fact, you can pair them with this Spiced Apple Cider Slushie.
Jalebis are especially enjoyed during weddings and Diwali, which typically falls around the end of October or beginning of November.
What are Jalebis?
🎶 Baby let me see it, jalebi baby 🎶
Yes, if you've heard the song by Tesher, which Jason Derulo featured on, then this is actually what Jalebi is! Well, kind of. This is an apple jalebi.
Jalebi is a sweet Indian dessert made of a fermented maida (flour) batter. The batter is dyed orange and fried in a circular, pretzel-like shape and then soaked in a saffron, cardamom, rosewater simple syrup. The fried batter soaks up the syrup to create a juicy, crunchy dessert.
It's extremely popular for festivals, like Diwali, and special occasions.
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
For the apples, use sweet apples! Please do not use anything sour, like granny smith apples. I prefer honeycrisp because they are sweet, but slightly tart and absolutely delicious when they soften and soak in some of the syrup.
You will also need some ghee to fry up the apples. Neutral oil is also acceptable, but it'll make the syrup oily when transferring the jalebis over to soak. Regular butter won't work as a substitute, because the smoke point isn't high enough.
Simple syrup is always a 1-to-1 ratio of water to sugar. Saffron, cardamom pods, and rosewater make this syrup especially flavorful.
Please use whole cardamom pods that are slightly smashed, and not ground cardamom. The whole pods will release a ton of flavor into the syrup.
There will most likely be plenty of syrup leftover! Use it for pancakes, gulab jamun, etc. It's absolutely delicious.
- All-purpose flour - Traditionally, maida is used to make jalebis which is a wheat flour that's typically marketed as an all-purpose flour. Use maida if you have it, but you don't need to go out of your way to purchase it. All-purpose flour works just as well.
- Instant yeast - A lot of jalebis batters are typically fermented overnight which is how jalebis get the delicious pockets of juicy syrup. Instant yeast will create those puffy pockets instead of waiting for the batter to ferment. Active dry yeast works as well, but it will need to be activated differently.
- Corn starch - This is not only to get a thick consistency but a flour that's closer to cake flour.
- Orange food coloring - Food coloring is optional, but jalebis are known for it's orange color! I used a small amount of the copper food coloring from the Wilton gels set.
To make Apple Jalebis without yeast, you'll need all-purpose flour, dahi or full-fat plain Greek yogurt, and water. The yogurt gives it a tangy taste.
How to make the Saffron Syrup
This recipe does require a bit of juggling to get everything timed precisely. You'll need two burners for a sauce pan to make the syrup, and a large skillet for frying up the jalebis. The syrup must be warm in order for the jalebis to absorb all the syrup when they're transferred over immediately after frying.
Making the saffron syrup is incredibly easy! Start off by making a simple syrup, which is a 1-to-1 ratio of sugar to water.
Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir the sugar until melted. Lightly crush the cardamom pods, and then add them into the syrup. Rub the saffron in the palm of your hands to break it into smaller pieces. Do this over the pan so it falls directly into the simple syrup.
Simmer the syrup until it comes to a one string consistency. Dip your pointer finger into the syrup and rub it between your pointer finger and thumb, then slowly pull your fingers apart. There will be one strand of syrup between your fingers. You don't want it to get thicker than this.
Remove the syrup from heat, and stir in the rosewater.
How to make Apple Jalebi
Here comes the fun part - making the jalebis! There's four parts to it - making the batter, cutting the apple into rings, coating the apples with the batter and frying them in ghee, and soaking them in the saffron syrup.
1. Make the Batter
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients - the all-purpose flour, corn starch, salt, and instant yeast. Whisk it together, and then pour in the lukewarm water. Whisk it until combined.
This is optional, but this is where to add orange food coloring to give it that signature vibrant jalebi look.
Cover the bowl and set aside the batter for a minimum of 15 minutes to let the yeast work its magic. If you're using active dry yeast, you'll want to make sure you properly activate it.
To make Apple Jalebis without yeast:
In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of all purpose flour and ¼ cup of dahi. Slowly add in lukewarm water as needed, around ½ cup. It should form a thin paste-like batter. Rest the batter for 1 to 2 hours.
If the batter won't stick to the apple rings, coat it in all-purpose flour first and then dip it into the batter.
2. Cut the Apples into Rings
Two apples will make 14-16 jalebis, depending on how well you're able to cut your slices.
Turn the apple on to the side and cut downwards into slices. Use a straw or a lid to remove the core to create rings.
I'd make the saffron syrup at this point while the jalebi batter continues to rest.
If you want to remove the skin of the apples, go ahead and do that. Additionally, if you own an apple corer then that would also be convenient to use before cutting the apples into rings.
3. Coat the Apples and Fry
Prep a sheet pan with a cooling rack over it.
When the batter has rested, give it another whisk. Drop the apple rings into the bowl and toss it in the batter to fully coat all sides.
Heat a skillet on low to medium heat and pour in the ghee. Make sure the ghee is adequately hot, so that the jalebis don't get soggy. Fry the apple rings in batches of 4 - 5 pieces to allow plenty of space in between them. You'll see the edges start to become translucent and solidify into a deep orange color after 1 - 3 minutes. Flip it to the other side and fry for another 1 - 3 minutes.
4. Soak in Saffron Syrup
Here's where you'll need to put your multi-tasking skills to use.
Immediately transfer the batch of apple jalebis to the saffron syrup to soak for 1 minute on one side. As soon as you do this, start on the other batch of frying the apples. Once the new batch is in the ghee, flip the jalebis in the syrup so the other side can soak.
Flip the jalebis in the ghee, and then remove the jalebis in the syrup to a cooling rack over a sheet pan so that the excess syrup can drain. Keep doing this until all the batches are done.
Do not leave the jalebis in the syrup for more than 5 minutes, otherwise they will become soggy.
How to Serve and Store
Serve apple jalebis on a large serving platter. Garnish it with chopped pistachios, edible dried rose petals, and a few additional strands of saffron.
Unfortunately, apple jalebis do not store well and should be consumed the day of, within a couple of hours. Unlike regular jalebi which can be stored for a couple of days, the fried batter on apple jalebis will get soggy and fall apart after a while. This is due to the additional moisture content in the apples.
However, the apple jalebis can be prepped ahead! The saffron simple syrup can be canned and stored in the fridge, and then reheated when ready for use. Make the batter up to 6 hours ahead and cover it with cling wrap. Cut, coat, and fry the apples when ready to consume.
The saffron simple syrup can also be saved after use. Store them in a jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a month. It's wonderful for pancakes, gulab jamun, rasgulla, etc.
More Indian Desserts to try
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Saffron Simple Syrup
- In a large bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, instant yeast, corn starch, and pinch of salt. Give it a good whisk and pour in the lukewarm water. Whisk again until smooth. (Optional) Add a very small amount of orange food coloring. Whisk again until fully combined and set aside for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut two apples into rings by turning the apple on to its side and cutting straight down with a sharp knife. Use a small circular object, like a lid, to remove the middle of the apple slice and form a ring. At this point, make the saffron simple syrup.
- Whisk the batter again, and then drop the apples in. Fully coat them in the batter.
- Heat the ghee in a skillet on medium heat. It should be about an inch high in the skillet, otherwise add more ghee. Test a small amount of batter to ensure it's hot enough - it should bubble and solidify.
- Carefully lower four apple rings into the ghee at a time, being careful not to crowd the skillet to prevent the apple jalebis from sticking. Fry on one side until the batter solidifies, darkens, and becomes translucent 1 to 3 minutes. Flip to the other side and continue to fry.
- Immediately transfer to the pan with the warm saffron simple syrup and soak them for 1 - 2 minutes. Do not oversoak, otherwise the jalebis will be soggy. Transfer to a cooling rack over a sheet pan to drain excess syrup.
- Serve warm immediately on a serving platter with pistachios and edible rose petals for garnish.
Saffron Sugar Syrup
- In a sauce pan on low to medium heat, pour in the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar melts. Rub the saffron between the palms of your hands over the pan to crush them a bit. Smash the cardamom seeds under the flat edge of a knife and add them into the sugar water as well.
- Simmer the syrup until it reaches one strand consistency. To do this, dip your pointer finger into the sugar water and rub it between pointer and thumb and slowly pull your fingers away from each other. You should see one strand of syrup.
- Remove the syrup from heat and remove the cardamom seeds. Add the rosewater and stir everything together.
- Ensure the syrup stays warm for soaking the jalebis.