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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dry Gulab Jamun

Gulab jamun (Hindi: गुलाब जामुन) is a popular dessert in countries of the Indian Subcontinent such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. It is made of a dough consisting mainly of milk solids, traditionally, khoya, an Indian milk product (buffalo milk) is rolled into a ball together with some flour and then deep fried. It is then put into in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom seeds and rosewater, kewra or saffron. These days, Gulab Jamun powder is also commercially available, so the dessert can be prepared easily. Gulab jamun is common at weddings.

The term gulab jamun comes from Persian, gulab, "rosewater" referring to the rosewater-scented syrup, and Hindustani jamun, m., "Syzygium jambolanum" (also jāmaṇ, m., from the Hindustani language), a South Asian fruit with a similar size and shape.

Gulab jamun originates from an Arabic dessert, Luqmat Al-Qadi (Arabic for "the judge's bite"), that became popular in the Indian Subcontinent during the Mughal era. Rosewater syrup is often used; however saffron syrup and honey are also common. The dessert also became popular in Turkish-speaking areas, spreading to the Ottoman Empire.

Gulab jamun is a dessert often eaten at festivals or major celebrations such as marriages, Diwali (the Indian festival of light) and the Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. There are various types of Gulab jamun and every variety has a distinct taste and appearance.

Gulab jamun gets its brownish red color because of the sugar content in the milk powder or khoya. In other types of gulab jamun, sugar is added in the dough, and after frying, the sugar caramelization gives it its dark, almost black color, which is then called kala jamun, "black jamun".

I am going to post the recipe for traditional Gulab Jamun later, but first I want to post this quick and easy and not too sweet recipe of Gulab Jamun. I came across this recipe many years ago when I first came of US and my sister-in-law Hansa Bhabhi threw a party for us newly weds and welcoming me to US. Thank you Hansa Bhabhi !! (Bhabhi is affectionate term to address one's brother's wife in India). I got the recipe from her and tried it many many times. Over the years I have made some modification to it, I am sure she wouldn't mind, knowing the kind soul she is.

So here it is...the pictures you see are of half of this recipe.

This recipes yields about 30-35 pieces of Dry Gulab Jamun and takes about an hour to make. I made half the recipe this time (made 15 Gulab Jamun) because I had some condensed milk in the fridge left over from before.

Ingredients for dough:

• 2 ½ cup of AP flour

• ½ cup of cream of wheat

• 2 tablespoon of Ghee or butter

• ½ teaspoon baking soda

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

• 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder

• 1 can of condensed milk

Ingredients for syrup:

• 2 cups of sugar

• 3 cups of water

• Few drops of Rose essence or rose water

• ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder

• Crisco for frying (traditionally in India they fry Gulab jamun in Ghee)

• 1/2 cup of slightly crushed slivered almonds


• Make syrup by mixing water and sugar on high heat and once the sugar is dissolved, let the syrup simmer for 6-8 min on medium heat, until sticky between fingers, but not too thick.

• Add cardamom powder and rose syrup after turning the heat off.

• Set aside.

• You can prepare the dough while the syrup is boiling.

• Mix AP flour, cream of wheat, baking powder, baking soda, condensed milk, cardamom and ghee or butter and make the dough with bare hands.

• Knead the dough until everything is well blended.

• Divide the dough in to 30-35 balls and roll them in your hands in one direction so there are no crevices on the surface and give them an oval shape.

• Heat oil in a frying pan, or in a deep fryer.

• When oil is hot fry these ball on medium heat turning them gently so entire surface of the oval ball is light brown.

• Gently take them out of fryer and place them on paper towel.

• Once all the balls are fried, arrange them in a serving dish (I used 8 x 8 Pyrex baking dish)

• Pour the syrup over the balls evenly and let them sit for about 10 min, turn them over gently in between so syrup is soaked evenly.

• You just sprinkle some slivered almonds on top and serve it, but I like to roll each ball in almonds.

• Place the almonds in a dish and take the gulab jamun out of dish and roll one ball at a time in the almonds (you can use grated unsweetened coconut, but I am not a fan of coconut for this recipe that is why I used slivered almonds).

• Roll all balls individually in sliver almonds until coated with almond all around and place them in baking cups.

• You can chill them covered if you like or serve them right away.

Gulab Jamun Description source:

Recipe modified by Surekha from a recipe given to her by her sister-in-law Hansa H.
Photographs by Surekha.

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