Gulab Jamun / Gulab Jamoon is one of my most favourite sweets since childhood 🙂 In fact, one of my favourite pastimes back then was to collect all the sugar syrup after the jamuns were eaten up, and then eat it out of a bowl with a spoon! I cannot even imagine doing that now, considering its not very healthy of course (and cloyingly sweet too). But hey, its festival season here, and that calls for dessert! 😀 It is very easy to make a large batch of this ahead of time, and refrigerate it, if you’re having guests over. It tastes amazing eaten warm or cold. In fact, one of the common ways this is eaten in India, is along with vanilla ice cream. You will not believe just how amazing the combination of warm gulab jamun, sugar syrup and vanilla ice cream tastes!! Most wedding buffets actually serve this as dessert, as it is a crowd pleaser.
Gulab Jamun is a popular sweet dish that consists of fried dough balls made from Khoya, soaked in a sugar syrup spiced with cardamom and saffron. The dough balls are dropped into the syrup while it is hot and allowed to rest for 2-3 hours, so as to allow it to soak up the richly flavoured syrup and soften beautifully! These are pillowy-soft, rich, aromatic and sweet when you bite into them. These can be made plain, or stuffed with nuts and fruits. I’ve made the traditional, simple version today – you just cannot stop at one!
The basis for this dish is condensed milk solids, or Khoya. Khoya is incredibly versatile and lends itself to making a lot of sweet and savoury dishes in Indian cuisine. Khoya is easily available to buy at supermarkets, if you want to save time. I specifically made Khoya from scratch at home so that I could make this, and a couple other dishes that call for Khoya. Its really not that difficult – recipe for Homemade Khoya here!
Diwali / Deepavali is just a week away, so why not indulge a little? 😉 At my place, we usually buy the ready-mix for Gulab Jamun because it is quicker. But this time, I decided to make it from scratch. The results were fabulous! Trust me when I say this is utterly superior to the store-bought stuff both in terms of texture as well as taste. Try this and you will not be disappointed! Totally worth all the effort 🙂
Read on for the recipe!
To make the Jamun
- Khoya – 1 cup (you can use store bought or homemade)
- Paneer – 100 gm
- Maida flour/all purpose flour – 2 tbsp
- Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
- Baking powder – 1/4 tsp
- Milk – 1 to 2 tbsp
To make the Sugar Syrup
- Sugar – 2 cup
- Water – 1.25 cup (water needs to be slightly more than half the qty of sugar used)
- Saffron – 15 to 20 strands (I used 10 strands and a pinch of saffron powder)
- Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
- Oil – about 1/2 a litre (I used sunflower oil, you can use any odourless oil)
Making the Jamun
Grate the paneer finely into a mixing bowl.
Add the khoya, cardamom powder, baking powder and maida flour to this.
Use your hand to mix everything evenly. At first, it will resemble a crumbly mixture.
The inherent moisture of the khoya is enough to bind the flour, but you can use about 1-2 tbsp of milk at this stage if you feel the dough to be a little dry. This will help the dough come together smoothly.
Knead softly just to bring this together.
Make small lemon sized balls from the dough. Try to roll them as smoothly as possible without cracks. Do not roll too tightly, just roll softly.
Cover this with a wet muslin cloth, or any lid and set aside. If you keep this open, dough will dry up.
Making the Sugar Syrup
Take all the ingredients in a thick bottomed vessel. The vessel needs to be wide as well as deep, so that the jamuns soak up all the syrup. If the vessel is too flat, the jamun balls will not soak enough syrup.
Add water to this.
Stir well on a medium flame, for about 7-8 minutes, until the mixture is slightly sticky and syrupy in consistency. It will take on the colour from the saffron strands and turn a beautiful golden-orange. Switch off the stove.
Frying the Jamun
- Heat oil in a kadai. Wait until oil is hot – you can test the oil by pinching a small piece of dough and frying it. It will first sink, then come up and become golden. It takes about 2-3 minutes on a medium-low flame.
- When oil is ready, add your jamuns one by one to the hot oil. Wait 1-2 minutes and keep rolling them around in the oil, so that they cook evenly.
- Take them out when they pass the golden brown stage and become slightly darker in colour. Take care not to burn your jamuns.
- Drain the oil and set aside the jamuns.
Now take your warm jamuns and drop them carefully into the hot sugar syrup. Your sugar syrup needs to be hot, so that the warm jamuns absorb the juice and soften up.
Cover and let it soak for 2-3 hours at room temperature. You can later transfer them to the refrigerator for storage.
Serve warm or chilled, plainly as it is or with a side of vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!! 🙂
TIPS & TWEAKS
- Fry in batches of 3-4. Do not overcrowd the vessel.
- Your stove flame must be in medium throughout. Wait for 2-3 minutes, until the jamun cooks completely. If you rush it or increase the flame, the outside will turn dark but inside will remain uncooked.
- Make sure the sugar syrup is HOT when you drop the jamuns into it. If it is just slightly warm, it might not soak enough syrup and will not soften. If the syrup is boiling hot, the jamuns will soak up too much syrup too quickly, and they may disintegrate after a while. So if you want your jamuns to soft, as well as hold their shapes, drop them into just hot syrup 🙂
- Saffron is completely delicious in this syrup. However, you can skip the saffron and just add rosewater or rose essence instead, to the sugar syrup. Your syrup will remain colourless and transparent, but it will have the equally amazing flavour of fresh roses 🙂
- The jamun balls can be stuffed with dry fruits like pistachios, raisins and almonds if you prefer.
- This gave me about 20-21 lemon-sized jamuns. Increase the quantities accordingly if you need more.
- Also, you could eliminate paneer altogether and just use equal amount of khoya in its place.