“Jilipi and Jalebi are the same stuff- right?” Have you felt like someone poured hot lead in your ears and you can’t do anything but post a fake smile because you like that person? Well, it happens every single time with me, as and when someone utters this line. They are different- like machher jhol and fish curry- like Murgh Makhni and chicken curry. They are two entirely different products. I am not saying which one is better- both are love. but being a bong, I am biased for Jilipi. Well, there are lots of good places for either in the city of joy- but this is one hidden gem, where I have found the BEST (I repeat the best) jilipi in Kolkata. And it’s not even a proper shop, it’s a roadside nameless kiosk- named Meda r Dolan.
Jilipi is a pretty old dish. In ancient time, it was called as Kundalini. In fact in the book Kulunkul Sarbasya, by Ramnarayan Tarkalankar in Bengali year 1261, we can find Jilip as part of Uttam Falar (highly rated meal)
নিখুঁতি জিলাপি গজা ছানাবড়া বড় মজা
শুনে শক শক করে নোলা
The debate first
Do not get me wrong. I feel somebody should talk about jilipi vs jalebi war. Jilipi, as per me, is a Bengali item. It’s made out of 2 1/2 circular motion of the batter into the hot oil. Nothing more, nothing less. The beauty lies in the thickness of the layers. The outer crust should be crunchy, wherein the inside should be soft. Wherein, Jalebi has probably come from the western part of the country and in a more refined dish. the rings are thin and crispy. Multiple rings can be seen and not just the rustic 2 1/2 ones. And most importantly, its seen in big shops mostly.
Jilipi can be of multiple varieties. There are these two products here- namely Jilipi and Jalebi. But a thicker batter (with a different recipe) and more complex method is used for making Amriti. If someone uses chhena base as the batter, it’s named as Chhenar Jilipi. Let me tell you, chhena r jilipi fried with ghee is a delicacy, but we rarely get it in Kolkata shops. In a place called Narajol in Midnapore, they make jilipi with moong dal or split green gram and is named as Moong Jilipi or Papri. I personally haven’t tasted it, but will … someday.
Jilipi at Meda r dokan
Well, if you have been to Beliaghata CIT Road, you’ll be knowing this place called Trikone Park. Please try to locate the UCO Bank branch and ATM there. A narrow lane goes inside beside this towards Divine Nursing Home and is named as Abinash Banerjee Lane. And at this junction, you’ll find a small shabby shop frying an endless number of Kachori and Jilipi. I am talking of this shop. Locally, it’s called as Meda r Dokan. And I have seen it in business for more than the last 15 years. In the morning, there are just two items- Hing Kachori and a runny Potato Sabzi and Jilipi. In the evening, on a good day, they open up for some aloo chop and telebhaja.
And the kachori
The kachori sabzi, that they serve here, is decent- just decent and nothing else. I mean the kachori is pretty good – with a strong aroma of asafetida and with some nigella seeds. On a lucky winter morning, if they are in a good mood, you may even find them serving some pretty good green peas kachori. I mean, please do not expect them to serve the best kachori at 5/- per piece- but it’s good. Sabzi, on the other hand, is a spoilsport. I am known to be opinionated and I judge any kachori with its sidekick. This runny thing that they serve here is …. errr … let’s not talk about it. But the best part? You get it piping hot. Throughout the morning, they fry their two items and almost serve you from the kadhai.
Choosing the jilipi
For most of us self respecting Bengalis, a Sunday morning is denoted with Luchi Aloo Tarkari or Kachori. But getting a couple of jilipi, along with it, is mandatory. It gives a necessary finish to the otherwise leisurely breakfast. And getting in a fight with the shopkeeper for some piping hot jilipi is our what differentiates kid from a man. Personally, I am a racist in this subject and I like the dark tanned, deep-fried ones. And once I go to this shop, I make it a point to wait for some time, get the jilipi fried to my liking and then only take it.
My suggestion, wait for getting the fresh lot. Wait for the jilipi to be over-fried, wait for it to get the desired dark brown exterior and then pounce
And let me tell you, I have tasted Jilipi in many many places and personally am known to be quite opinionated. But the consistency and taste of this small minuscule shop is simply mind-blowing. Let me repeat, DO NOT have any expectation from the kachori- it’s just good. But the jilipi is the champion here. So, what are your morning jilipi favorites? Please let me know in the comment section.
Bon appetite !!!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org