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2007 September 10

The Jalaibi Vaala at Bengoli Rasgulla and Sweets, probably wondering who the crazy girl is who is trying to eat jalaibi while taking a picture

As soon as I arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan to visit my darling grandmother, I grab my youngest uncle and demand he take me across the street to Melody Market. Other women head to buy cloth or visit the tailor, but my uncle always takes me in the opposite direction.

Pictures are in lightbox – click one to open the gallery.

Through the main market, down a little alley is a wonderful little dessert shop, my favorite place to get my favorite Pakistani dessert – jalaibi. As I enter the alley, the smell of sweetness perfumes the air. We’re close. We’re headed to a shop called Bengali Rasgulla and Jalaibi.


The owner of the shop and artist of countless sweet delicacies is a Bengali man whose family stayed in Pakistan after its separation with Bangladesh in 1971. As we arrive, the Jalaibi Vaala (The Jalaibi Maker) is piping the thin, creamy jalaibi batter into a vat of hot oil in long whirling strips. He fries it until crisp and immediately submerges it into a pot of sugar syrup. The final result is a light, ooey-gooey, severely sweet spiral of bright orange.

He gives me a pound of jalaibi wrapped in several bags made out of newspaper. The sunny, bright sweetmeat is calling me….I can’t resist! I grab one, hot and crisp, and bite into it, not noticing the sugar syrup rapidly drenching my chin and fingers. I have to capture this moment; I wipe enough syrup from my fingers to snap this shot. A master at his craft, the Jalaibi Vaala stares into my lens as the next batch of fresh jalaibi waits to delight another addict.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. September 12, 2007

    yaar your pictures are fabuloso. you should really like do something with them dude.

  2. bsc permalink
    September 17, 2007

    One friend of ours was fond of many types of cooking, May Allah bless his soul (died last year).
    He made excellent Jalaibi and I tried to ‘eulogise’ his Jalaibi in the following words (he was very very good at cooking)
    “Mila ker issmain sheerinee, halawat, kurkurapun bhi (Mixed in it sweetness, creaminess and crispness)
    Banaya zaiqah laikin na soorat ka sha-oor aya (Good taste resulted but did’nt know how to shape it)
    Bahut socha bananay walay nay keh shakl dun kyonker. (The fashioner thought and thought how to shape it)
    Banaiy bus ‘alal-tappu’, jalaibi ka zahoor aya (Made it just a’random’ shape,thus Jalaibi made its appearance)
    Bataya raz ik zahid nay yeh ik cheese suthri hay (An ascetic revealed the secret that this is a pure thing)
    Kahin ungli say lipti hazrat-e-adam ki utri hay (It probably ‘decended’ with Adam (from paradize of course) woven around his figer)

  3. youngest uncle permalink
    September 29, 2007


    Next time we will visit Jumma Bazar, the tanga ride, the rickshaw ride, the niswar shop in Islamabad.

  4. September 29, 2007

    Hahah! Thanks Chachoo!

  5. October 22, 2007

    Thank you, Wahaj Uncle, for the beautiful poem. It’s an honor to have you as a reader!

  6. March 24, 2009

    Why do you make me hungry for sweets late at night? :)…love it.

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