Baby Jalebi is the sixth restaurant of Bilal, Mani, and Magid§. Their previous five restaurants are the fantastic Fish and Chip Shops around town. The three of them were born in Pakistan but have been in Barcelona most of their lives. Bilal, a tall man with a luxurious mustache, tips twirled up mirthfully tells me that his family has been in Barcelona for 60 years.
It strikes me that it took opening five restaurants and having them be successful before the trio turned their attention to the food they must have grown up eating. The name Baby Jalebi was the namesake earned by Mani’s mother for eating so much of the fried dough as a baby.
They haven’t opened up just any Indian restaurant though. They’ve positioned it as fun, distinctive and meant to appeal to a younger crowd. Separating itself from the more generic Indian restaurants around, the kind filled with cushions with mirrors sewn in.
There is a dirty orange that runs through the entire place. From the neon sign in the back to the stripe painted in the middle of the wall and on the rims of the plates and even in the chicken tikka masala dish.
We start with Okra (5.25€) and Gol Gappe (5.50€). Then two mains: Chicken Tikka Masala (7.25€) and Pal Panner (6.95€). Two carbs on the side Naan (1€) and Basmati rice that looks like it has confetti mixed into it (2€). The standout dish is the fried okra. Possibly the first time I have had okra outside my own home in the 5 years I’ve been here. Even people who don’t love okra (how can anyone not love okra?) will love it like this, in a crispy batter, fried with coarse salt sprinkled on. I would come for the okra alone.
I’m with my friend Sara, she wants chai instead of coffee. Bilal is exacting in taking our order. “How sweet exactly do we want it and how strong?” Whatever we manage to communicate to him, it comes out delicious.
As we get ready to leave, a neighbor comes in to make sure they’ve reserved his table for him that night. I imagine it won’t be long before there is more than one Baby Jalebi in Barcelona. Clearly, the three know how to set up a restaurant business that will thrive. Moreover, in a crowded market, they’ve found a good category that lacks competition and made it affordable and accessible.
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 450