March 14, 2012

Of Gulab Jamuns and new beginnings

The advent of spring and the end of the winter season in India is heralded by the festival of colors, Holi. In my years of having lived here in the US I have longed and missed the bonhomie that trademarks this spring festival. Uncle, aunts, distant cousins and relatives come together to mark the beginning of spring and gorge on the delicious spread of the scrumptious dishes which would be incomplete without a wide range of sweets and snacks. I have missed all of that these years until this time when a group of friends came up with the idea of a potluck lunch that would then be followed by applying “tikkas”(What happened later is completely another story in itself! ).
While thinking of something to contribute, Gulab Jamun popped straight at me. Now, here goes the story! Gulab Jamuns have always always been one of my most favorite-“est” of desserts. A few months back one of my friends suggested to try making Gulab Jamuns. I was supremely excited to even know that it could be “prepared” at home. I wrote down the recipe, bought the ingredients but never quite got down to making it UNTIL that fine day.To tell you the truth, I was afraid of messing up the recipe and that had kept me from giving it a shot. It had never quite happened before but since there were emotional repercussions of failing at making my favorite dessert that kept bogging me down. Well, as the feeling of festivity lit up the heart and took the mind away from its rigmarole, I finally gave it a shot. All went well and my happiness knew no bounds as I bit into the soft, warm, brown balls of goodness and yumminess dripping with cardamom and rose water infused sugary syrup. I literally squealed in delight and danced about in joy at my victory. The gist is - it’s a very simple recipe that requires a lot of love and patience to get it right. Here’s my earnest attempt to make it easy and comprehensible to anyone looking to have fun and a great time making these for friends, family or just even from themselves.
Gulab Jamuns
Gulab Jamuns are the Indian version of donuts, fried to perfection and dipped in cardamom rose water flavored sugary syrup. It’s one of the few very well known desserts, unanimously loved, adored and savored in every part of the Indian subcontinent.
· 1 cup nonfat/whole milk powder
· 1/4 cup All Purpose flour (plain flour, maida)
· 3 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
· 1/4 cup Reduced whole milk at room temperature.
· Pinch/1/8th teaspoon of baking soda
· 1 1/2 cup sugar
· 1 1/2 cup water
· 4 coarsely grounded cardamom seeds
· Oil for deep-frying
· 2 teaspoon of rose water / 2-3 strands of Saffron (Optional)
For the syrup, in a wide mouthed pan, boil water along with sugar and crushed cardamom seeds. Bring it to boil, let it boil for a minute and then turn off the stove. Set aside. Add rose water and let it sit. At this stage, the saffron strands can be added, it would impart a orange-ish hue to the syrup.
Gulab Jamuns:
1. Bring 1 ½ cups of whole milk to boil and keep stirring till the milk is reduced to half. Keep aside to cool.
Tip: Reducing the milk to a thicker consistency sort of makes up for the absence of “khoya” which is originally used. Regular room temperature whole milk would also work well, it would only have a different flavor.
2. In a mixing bowl, sieve in milk powder, flour and baking soda.Sieving ensures that all the three powders mix well and that there’s no lump.
Tip: Too much baking soda will cause the gulab jamuns to get too soft or they will break apart when frying.
3. Mix in the butter into the mixture. The mixture would now be grainy and coarse.
4. Then add in the room temperature reduced milk to the mixture. The dough should be soft and moist.
Tip: While rolling the dough balls, apply butter to both your hands. Notice that when the balls are kept on the plate, they deform on the side its placed indicating the dough is soft. In between frying, if the dough seems drier, it’s okay to add room temperature whole milk to make it moist.
5. Heat up the oil in a wok. The balls should be able to swim in the oil which is atleast 1 ½ inch of oil.
Tip: To test if the oil is at the right temperature, place a small piece of dough into the oil; it should take a minute to rise. If dough rises faster, oil is too hot; if dough just sits without rising, oil is not hot enough.
6. Place the Gulab Jamuns in the frying pan. Remember, gulab jamuns will expand to double the volume, so give them enough space. It should take about 7-10 minutes to fry the gulab jamuns depending upon their size. While frying keep rolling the gulab jamuns around so they are evenly browned. Fry until the gulab jamuns become dark brown.
Tip: If the gulab jamuns are fried on high heat, they don't cook thoroughly to the center.
7. Let the gulab jamuns cool off for a few minutes before placing them in the hot syrup.
Tip: When I add in the fried dough to the syrup, I placed the syrup vessel on very low heat so that eventually we get the syrupy consistency. If not, the syrup becomes very watery.
8. The gulab jamuns should sit in the hot syrup for at least 20 minutes prior to serving.Gulab jamuns can be kept at room temperature for about a week and up to one month when refrigerated. They can also be frozen for months.
9. Variations: Place a black cardamom (Badi elaichi) seed/ raisin at the center of the dough. It adds to the flavor.
It might sound daunting at first , but I promise that once you make them, the joy and elation would much surpass the fear of failure just like it did for me. Its been an enjoyable experience making these and hope you have had much of a great time going through this recipe and making these as well . Looking forward to your comments and inputs to this entry.
Much Love,

P.s: I am sending this recipe for 
- "Showcase - Desserts" by Divya.
- "Let's Party - "Desserts" by Reshmi and Surabhi.
- Prathibha for "EP Series-Herbs and spices"-Basil and Cardamom
- "Diwali Bash" by Vardhini
- "Lets celebrate-Indian sweets" hosted by UK Rasoi


  1. Wonderful first post! You certainly have a way with words when it comes to describing food. You've got my mouth watering at the thought of those golden brown delights! :)

    1. Indeed_!! You have literally spoken my thoughts and words. A great way to start with. Hope this beginners luck caries on... :)

  2. Welcome to the blogosphere! I have added you to my blogroll.

    1. Thank you so much Mona! I am still learning the abc's of running a I am going to put up my blogroll too very soon :)

  3. Wow! your gulab jamns look so perfectly golden brown! you have me craving for them now!

    1. I actually squealed in delight when I got your comment as I absolutely adore your blog :) Thank you!

  4. I also make Gulab Jamun this way - it was daunting for me as well till I tried it out! :)

    1. i completely agree! conquering the jitters one recipe at a time ;)

  5. Perfectly made Gulab Jamuns, awesome prep :) Thanks for linking it to EP Series. Following you, would be great to see u in my Friend's list.

    On Going Event EP Series Basil or Cardamom @Cook-Ezee


Each kind, encouraging word gives me the impetus to put more into this space, so thanks a lot for browsing through and stopping by to say a word! :)