Gohana Jalebi… A Giant Among Jalebis
The beautiful thing about India is how you can find the most amazing and special things in the most ordinary and unexpected of places. Gohana jalebi is one such example— a wonderfully unique delicacy in a small town of Haryana.
Gohana, the Town of Sweets
Gohana is situated in Sonipat district of Haryana. In ancient times, it was considered to be a sacred place called Gavambhavana (meaning where cows are in plenty). Prithviraj Chauhan built a fort here, which was later destroyed by Muhammad Ghori. It was declared a tehsil in 1928 by the British, and was the earliest tehsil of Haryana. Currently, this small place in Haryana is well connected to major districts of Haryana by road and rail. The town is famous for its sweets, especially milk sweets, and of course, the famous Gohana jalebi.
A Sweet Beginning
It was in post independent India, in 1958, where a local resident’s business acumen led to the creation of something that would make Gohana sparkle on the national, nay, international map.
This man was Matu Ram, who hailed from a local agricultural family, but was interested in the sweetshop business. Matu Ram saw that Gohana was full of sweet-enthusiant Haryanvis, yet did not have a proper halwai shop. He also knew that a lot of land transactions happened in the vicinity, and no auspicious deals are signed in India without a follow-up with sweets (kuch meetha ho jaye!). And so, he decided to open a sweetshop.
But even within this sweetshop, Matu Ram the innovator wanted to do something different. So instead of using a cloth to make a regular jalebi, he made a hole at the bottom of a clay pot and made thicker jalebis.
And this was the sweet beginning of Gohana.
Matu Ram ki Jalebi
The thick jalebi created by Matu Ram is now famous as the Gohana jalebi. They are huge and one single jalebi fits into a quarter-sized box we see at sweetshops. If you weigh them, you would find that each piece of jalebi weighs 250g consistently!
But it is not just the size of the jalebi that sets the Gohana jalebi apart. It is its crispiness.
Unparalleled Crispiness and Juiciness
All of us who have had jalebi since childhood know the unsaid rule that the thinner the jalebi, the crispier it is. And that is why, when I first saw the Gohana jalebi online, I thought it would have the texture of a thick imarti.
Guess what? I was extremely wrong!
The Gohana jalebi is made of a unique mixture of maida, besan and paneer which gives it a mind-boggling crispiness. The fact that they are fried in 100% ghee also adds to this crispiness. So crisp were the jalebis, that I got them packed to take them to Noida, and they still retained their crispiness after a three hour long drive! No other jalebi that I have eaten would have passed this crispiness test!
But surprisingly, when you break a piece of it and eat it, the insides are juicy, soft and chewy.
Long Shelf Life
Like the regular jalebi, the Gohana jalebi also has a hint of refreshing tartness in it. on top of that the jalebi is made with such fresh and hygienic natural produce that locals claim that it can be stored for around 12 days!
Pride and Politics
Gohana jalebi is the pride of the people of Gohana. This was evident when the two people I was interviewing when I went to Gohana broke into wide smiles when we mentioned the Gohana jalebis to them. In fact, someone overheard us and actually ordered some jalebis for us!
Once it arrived, we were overwhelmed with its size, but were amused to be told that it is a source of pride for local residents if they are able to eat one, or more than one, jalebi by themself!
No wonder the jalebi are so famous and a source of local pride. So popular are they, that they have also played a part in international, national and state-level politics. Fifty boxes of Gohana jalebi have once been gifted to a Pakistani prime minister, while one of the deputy Prime Ministers of India always had Gohana jalebi while passing through the region. In more recent times one political campaign was called Jaleb gail charcha, which means poll discussion while eating jalebi!
Where to Find It?
There are numerous shops in Gohana selling Gohana jalebi, but the main Matu Ram shop is the original creator of the sweet dish. Click on the above location to go to the original Gohana jalebi shop.