No celebration or ritual in an Indian home is complete with a large selection of sweetmeats or mithai. All of these sweet treats are homemade and egg-free, which is important especially in Hindu homes. Gulab Jamun is one of the sweetmeats that is very popular and a firm favourite of both young and old.
Gulab Jamun can best be described as a deep fried Indian doughnut dipped into a sugar syrup. This popular sweetmeat can be found in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Trinidad. Served in different ways and moulded into shapes and known by various names the humble Gulab Jamun has Persian roots. This does and does not surprise me at the same time with all the voyages of discoveries and battles around the world. The Gulab Jamun was made in medieval India, inspired by a fritter brought to India by the Persians.
Gul is a Persian word for Gol (flower) and Ab (water) which refers to the rose scented sugar syrup that is the dipping syrup for the Gulab Jamun. Around the world various versions of Gulab Jamun can be found:
1.In the Arab world, it is a dessert called Luqmat al Qadi which is similar but has a dough type batter.
2.Pantua from Bangladesh is their version of Gulab Jamun made by the locals.
3.In India they are called Rasgullas ,made into round balls and served in the sugar syrup that it is soaked in.
4.In the North of India in Rajastan, the Gulab Jamun are not soaked in the sugar syrup but instead cooked in a gravy of nuts and tomato.
As a young child , I spent many hours in the kitchen watching Gran create dish after dish.Like magic ,Gran transformed ingredients into the most tasty morsels and I like a sponge soaked up or tried to learn her craft.The selection of ingredients is very important in making a successful product and that is something Gran would not budge on regardless of price, Royal Baking Powder is one of those ingredients that is a staple in our pantry and I recall that iconic tin always making an appearance when making Gulab Jamun.And like Gran I I too use the same products and will not change as I know that the outcome will always be successful.Weeks before Diwali ,Gran and Mum would be like working their magic in the kitchen and making Gulab Jamun was one of Gran’s signature sweetmeats.
The pot of syrup I wanted to drink and could not wait to eat the Gulab Jamun but we were not allowed to eat them until Diwali. It was always my job to dunk the Gulab Jamun into syrup and I had to be careful and not them stand too long in or else they would break, as I got older I was allowed to fry them but strict instructions again not to turn them too soon and to let them brown evenly. Now I am allowed to do it all while Gran supervises my Gulab Jamun making and I would not have it any other way.
Gulab Jamun Recipe:
1 can condensed milk (397g)
10ml ghee (clarified butter)
15ml Royal Baking Powder
5ml elachi powder
125ml cake flour – might require more or less to achieve a soft dough.
Oil for deep frying
2ml elachi powder
2ml saffron (optional)
200g desiccated coconut (optional)
1.Make syrup first by dissolving sugar in water in a pot on the stove. Boil mixture until sugar spins a thread. Add the elachi powder and saffron.
2.In a bowl mix the condensed milk, ghee, elachi, Royal Baking Powder and semolina well.
3.Add in the flour in bit by bit until a soft dough is formed.
4.Shape into fingers rolling it between the palms of your hand.
5.Fry slowly over a medium heat allowing the Gulab Jamuns to rise to the top.
6. Fry until golden brown, once done remove and place on kitchen towel to absorb the extra oil.
7. Dip into the cooled sugar syrup for 15seconds before removing and allowing to dry.
8.Optional step is to roll the Gulab Jamun into the desiccated coconut.
Have you tried any version of Gulab Jamun ?
Be Inspired !