india’s sweet side

gulab jamun dessert in indiaIn India you are never far from a colourful mithai (sweets) vendor and if you scan the bottom shelf, below the silver-coated pink and green concoctions of ghee, nuts, milk and sugar, you will undoubtedly spot a large bowl bobbing with gulab jamun, a local favourite.

These donut-like balls are saturated in a warm rose syrup. So divine that it runs in rivulets down your hand and arm when you pick one out of the serving bag and attempt to gobble it up in haste. They are a staple dessert in most parts of India, and what better way to remember your sweet India experiences than by enjoying your own mithai fix at home…

Gulab jamuns – makes 20 balls

1 cup nonfat milk powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour (plain flour, maida)
3 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
1/4 cup room temperature whole milk
Pinch of baking soda
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
4 coarsely grounded cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon sliced almonds and pistachio
Oil for deep-frying

In a large pan, add water, sugar and ground cardamom seeds and bring it to a boil.
Let the syrup boil for a minute then remove it from the heat.
Stir the syrup until the sugar is dissolved.
Set the syrup aside.

In a bowl, mix milk powder, flour and baking soda.
Add the butter and mix well.
Now add milk to make soft dough. The dough should be sticky.
Let the dough sit for a few minutes. Milk powder will absorb the extra milk. If the dough is dry, add more milk, as the dough should be soft.
Knead the dough. Grease your hands with butter before working with the dough.
Divide the dough into about 20 equal portions and roll them into round balls.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. The frying pan should have at least 1 ½ inch of oil. To test if the oil is 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.

Place the gulab Jamuns in the frying pan. Note: remember gulab jamuns will expand in double the volume, so give them enough space.
It should take about 7 minutes to fry the gulab jamuns. While frying keep rolling the gulab jamuns around so they are evenly browned. Fry until the gulab jamuns become dark brown.

Let the gulab jamuns cool off for a few minutes before placing in the hot syrup.
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. Gulab jamuns can be frozen for months.

If the gulab jamuns are fried on high heat, they will become hard inside and not fully cooked.
Too much baking soda will cause the gulab jamuns to get too soft or they will break apart when frying.
Don’t place the gulab jamuns in the syrup immediately after frying. This will cause the gulab jamuns to lose their shape and become chewy.

Thanks to for help with the recipe.

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* photo by Natasha Menon – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Christian Friborg / Reply

I would like to try this at home! I love Indian food!

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