Updated: Jun 15
I don’t have a big, sweet tooth. If I was given the option to skip dessert, I don’t think I will even bat an eyelid. But Gulab Jamuns are an emotion that I feel deeply and can devour at any time of the day or night. Deep-fried milk dumplings, soaked in a sugary syrup called Gulab Jamuns are a very popular sweet treat across India.
There are many recipes for Gulab Jamuns, some use Mawa – Milk solids, some use Milk powder, some paneer, some are stuffed with Pistachios or Almondettes (Chironji) and some are just ordinary plain janes. Some use Semolina as a base and some use a mix of milk powder and plain flour. I have even eaten Gulab Jamuns made with Bread and Sweet Potatoes. And since ready made Gulab jamuns are so easily available everywhere around the world, I do like to make them at home once in a blue moon.
While making them is super easy, the entire process is still very technical and often I have ended up with some not-so-palatable Gulab Jamuns. You must ensure that you knead the dough in a way that is not too soft or not to be hard. The balls must be smooth without any cracks, and one cannot be careless with the frying. You must keep moving them around in the oil and ensure they are not burnt and are evenly brown. Also, if this doesn’t already put you off, the sugar syrup must be a perfect consistency so that the Jamuns are soaked properly.
It has taken me almost 15 years and many trials to get them good enough to serve them to someone else. One thing I have understood is that patience is the key to making them, you can’t rush the process. So, when the mood to eat them strikes and when I can’t be bothered to hunt for Gulab Jamuns from a shop, that I would like (yes, I am a very fussy Gulab Jamun eater), I then put on some music and immerse myself in the process of kneading, rolling, frying, and soaking them in saffron laced sugar syrup to make the most decadent Jamuns.
Here is the recipe, that I now depend on. I hope you enjoy it too.
Recipe – Cooking time 60 minutes
For the Jamuns:
· ¾ cup (100 grams) full-fat milk powder, unsweetened
· ½ cup (60 grams) plain flour
· ½ tsp baking powder
· 2 tbsp Ghee / clarified butter
· ½ cup Milk for kneading
· Ghee or Vegetable oil for frying
· A few pieces of crushed pistachio or Almondettes (Chironji) to stuff the Jamuns.
For the sugar syrup:
· 2 cups white or raw sugar
· 2 cups water
· 3 green cardamoms
· ¼ tsp saffron
· 1 tsp lemon juice
· 1 tsp rose water (optional)
Making the Jamuns:
Take the milk powder, flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Now using your fingers add the milk to the flour and start to knead the dough. You need to be careful as we don’t want to overwork the dough and the consistency of must be soft.
Cover the dough with a wet tea towel and leave for 10 – 15 minutes. The wet towel will prevent the dough from cracking or drying up.
When ready, divide the dough into 10 – 12 small balls of equal size. Apply ghee on your palms and one by one gently roll each portion into small smooth balls. While rolling, you can stuff some crushed pistachios or almondettes in each Jamun.
Fry Oil or Ghee in a wok and once hot, reduce the flame to medium and gently drop in a few pieces of the Jamuns. Note that you must have enough space in the wok to keep moving the jamuns around, so they get an even brown colour.
Once they are a deep brown shade (not burnt), drain them and transfer to the hot (not boiling Sugar syrup. Cover and leave atleast for 2 hours before serving, this allows the Jamuns to be thoroughly soaked in the liquid and double in size.
For the Sugar Syrup:
Meanwhile, prepare the sugar syrup by taking 2 cup sugar, 2 cup water, 2 cardamoms, and ¼ tsp saffron. Keep stirring so the sugar doesn’t stick to the pan and the syrup turns sticky.
Turn off the flame and add 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp rose water. The lemon juice is added to prevent sugar syrup from crystallizing. Transfer the syrup into a bigger bowl, so when you add the Jamuns they have space to expand in size.
Do not rush the frying process, if the oil is too hot, it will burn, if it is too cold it will not cook. thoroughly.
Ensure that there are no cracks as the cracks will lead to an uneven textured Jamun or they can also break when frying.
While rolling the jamuns, ensure the rest of the portions are covered with the tea towel. Dry dough will lead to cracked jamuns as well.
Do not be tempted to add too much water when making the sugar syrup. Watery Syrup will lead to jamuns absorbing too much water and breakage. And trust me they are not pleasant.