The Story Of Jabalpur’s Famous Khoya Jalebi

Situated on the banks of the river Narmada, Jabalpur is one of the largest cities of Madhya Pradesh. Formerly known as Jubbulpore, the place is renowned for small businesses run by people who come from nearby districts and villages, seeking new avenues. One such skilled sweet maker, who came to the city from his village in the late 1880s, ended up giving Jabalpur its sweetest gift - the Khoya Jalebi. 

Harprasad Badkul, the founder of Badkul Pratisthan, came to Jabalpur in 1889 from his native village. As a talented sweetmaker, he already knew how to make the most perfect jalebi, pedas, and other Indian sweets that were popular in the central belt of India. But his shop earned legendary status because of a certain kind of jalebi that was unheard of.  

For the uninitiated, jalebi is a spiral-shaped, sweet, crispy snack made with gram flour or maida batter. It is dipped in saffron-infused sugar syrup before it is served and it is possibly one of the most popular Indian street food items of all times. But Badkul jalebis were different. They were made using khoya (milk solids) and tikhur (cassava). It is completely satvik in nature, perfect to be consumed in fasting, and stays fresh for eight days. But how did it come about?  

The Badkuls were Digambar Jains, and known to be quite religious. Jains do not consume meals after 6 pm. And even if they do, the food should be ‘phalahari’ or ‘fruitarian’ or satvik in nature. Harprasad and his wife wanted to give the Jain community, or anyone fasting a phalahari treat that is tasty and energy-inducing. Hence, they tried making jalebis with khoya. The recipe doesn’t include maida. Instead, these are made with a combination of tikhur and khoya. Tikhur is a white-coloured by-product of milk. It helps thicken milk, and is consumed widely during vrat. In this Khoya Jalebi, it helps khoya hold shape.  

The khoya for this jalebi is also no ordinary khoya, it is derived out of goat or cow milk only, while the khoya from buffalo milk is rejected, as it has granules. The khoya comes from Narsinghpur, about 50-60 kms away from the city.    

To make these jalebis, khoya is grated through the mesh and then the grated khoya is heated in giant Kadhai. A person stirs the khoya consistently until it melts. In this melted khoya, soaked tikhur is added and both are combined well to make the jalebi batter. The batter is then packed in a cloth bag with a hole on the surface. The batter is then dropped in hot oil, giving us our crispy, khoya jalebis.