Gulab jamun is an Indian sweet dish that needs no introduction.A must have for almost every Indian, these doughnuts are stuffed with khoya and soaked in a simple saffron and rose water syrup along with Old Monk, making these gulab jamun a dish worthy of the royals. Served warm with icecream or cold on a hot day, its delicious any which way.
Every Morn and every Night, Some are Born to sweet delight, Some are Born to sweet delight, Some are Born to endless night.” – William Blake
Auguries of Innocence. How beautiful does that sound? I was completely drawn into this poem just because of its name. A poem which sounded so enticing on the outset, turned into something deeper once I had finished reading it. I might read a lot of books and poetry, (blame it on the English Lit professor for parents) but this particular poem was something I could connect with easily. I have a habit of writing things down in my book, a little diary of sorts where I scribble quotes or motivational messages, some random thought, blog post ideas, doodles that make no sense and of course poems! This, along with Pablo Neruda’s are often prettily calligraphed in the notebook, as opposed to the usual chicken scrawl i write in.
Somehow when I think of gulab jamun the phrase that comes to my mind instantly is Sweet delight. if you haven’t had a gulab jamun yet, chances are you aren’t privy to Indian cuisine or may be you don’t like it (which I seriously hope isn’t the case)! Although Indian cuisine has many sweets to offer and dessert galore to choose from, when it comes to favorites, most often you will hear these two words – Gulab Jamun. End of story. Have these, and you will realise how much you have missing out on. And if you already have had them, I am sure you love them, coz to know it and not love is a fate unknown to me!
As you all know, I am not much of a sweet tooth. I prefer Western desserts over the Indian counterparts. Don’t get me wrong. Indian sweets are amazing but most of the time they are too sweet for my taste. My husband on the other hand is a regular Ant man who needs sweets with every meal!! I am just thankful he doesn’t have a diabetic gene. But out of all the sweets that I like, if I wanted to spend my time making some Indian dessert it would be either Kheer ( rice pudding) or this , this sweet delight called Gulab Jamun.
I am a sweet person.I am just not a sweets kinda person , if you know what I mean! I prefer spice to sugar, meat & heat to sweet, however, I do have the deepest respect for people who have the patience to dole out desserts coz I feel it’s a very exact science and given my lifelong aversion to making Indian sweets ( arghhh..who has the freaking time), I surprised myself (and my man) when I stepped out of the kitchen, hot ,grimy & sticky from all the sugar work. But there was a smile on my face that would have put a Cheshire cat to shame and that is all that you need to know my darling friends. That this sweet, these gulab jamun, although tough to master and time taking is everything that you need to make you smile like a lunatic! You will feel as happy as a novice magician who successfully managed to pull out the rabbit from its hat in front of a live audience!
Gulab jamun are essentially like doughnuts. Doughnuts made out of Khoya ( in this case). Khoya is essentially Dried milk ( whole fat milk that’s been evaporated on low heat till it becomes a solid mass). Its used extensively in Indian sweets. It can be found in any Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or even Nepalese store. In case you cant find khoya, you can also use milk powder to make these gulab jamun. The result is different but its still delicious. I strongly recommend trying to source khoya for this recipe if you wish to get the authentic taste of this sweet delight, gulab jamun.
These fried in ghee sweets are simply left to soak in the most delicious sugar syrup ever. Think simple sugar syrup with saffron, a hint of rose water and some old monk!! If your mouth didn’t salivate at the thought of that, I don’t know what will do it for you. These gulab jamun, are fried on low heat so that they brown evenly on all sides. The outer coating becomes a nice deep brown (you can make it golden brown too, I happen to love the darker richer color) and the insides stay deliciously soft and a tender creamy mass of khoya, paneer, cardamoms and pistachios. Add some syrup over it while serving, and simply enjoy every bite of this delightful sweet!
As a refreshing new take on the age old beloved gulab jamun, I went and tweaked the syrup just a bit to make it more amazing than ever. So along with the essential saffron and rose water, I added just a little Old Monk to the mix!! Needless to say, kept some simple ones aside for the kiddo. This is completely optional and you can choose to opt out of adding the Old Monk.
Serve warmed up on a cold day or cold on a hot day with a side of vanilla/pistcahio ice cream. Whatever the weather, however cranky your mood, these pretty lil gulab jamuns will cheer you up in no time!
Disclaimer:I was completely inspired yet again by the amazing restaurant The Bombay Canteen. Their Gulab Nut drew me in and I ended up dunking my simple gulab jamuns into old monk too! Only the idea of adding Old Monk to the recipe is inspired by the restaurant. The gulab jamun recipe has been adapted from the recipe of Veg Recipes of India, the very famous and popular blog by Dassana.
- Khoya ( dried milk ) -250gms
- All purpose flour - ½ cup (about 3 tbsp)
- Paneer or cottage cheese - 50 gms
- Cardamom - 4, crushed with mortar pestle
- Pistachios crushed - 2 tbsp ( to stuff the dumplings)
- Warm Milk - 1 tbsp
- 4-5 strands of saffron, dissolved in the above mentioned warm milk.
- Baking powder - ½ tsp
- Sugar - 250 gms
- Water - 1 cup
- Rose water 1 tbsp
- Saffron few strands
- Old Monk 2 tbsp
- Milk 1 tbsp
- Start with measuring everything and keeping things ready.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the khoya first and mash it thoroughly till smooth. There should be absolutely no lumps left.
- Once you are sure its smooth,add the crumbled paneer (make sure its soft before you start making it. If its in fridge, soak in warm water for 30 minutes. Remove and let the water drain by squeezing gently between your palms, then crumble).
- Mix it with the khoya.
- Now add the all purpose flour/maida, baking powder and cardamom powder to the mashed khoya paneer mix. Please ensure there are no lumps. If there are lumps, you end up with the horrid jamuns that have a hard centre. Completely unappetising.
- This may take time, but do it thoroughly. No short cuts.
- Next, add a few strands of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp milk and simply bring the dough together like you would for a pie crust.
- DO NOT KNEAD.
- Cover the dough with a wet tea towel and keep aside for 30 mins.
- Make small balls from the dough. Stuff a little chopped pistachio inside each ball. Reshape again till smooth and creaseless. V V important!
- The size depends on how you want it. I usually start with 1 inch ones and make tiny ones of the leftover dough. Cover and keep aside for frying.
- But before that, start the syrup.
- Make a simple sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in water. Heat the sugar solution till it becomes sticky. Typically we need a ek taar (one thread) consistency for the syrup. If you take a drop of syrup on your index finger and press your thumb against it, when you pull the fingers apart, the syrup should have one thread, not two.
- Add the old monk and saffron to it and let it simmer for a bit. 2 mins.
- Add 1 tbsp of milk and let it simmer. A layer of scum will form on top. remove that with a spoon.
- Remove from flame and add rose water , stir well.
- Keep the sugar solution aside.
- If the sugar syrup crystallizes on cooling, simply reheat by adding 2 tbsp of water.
- While you simmer the syrup, heat oil to fry them
- The oil should be medium hot. Lower the flame and wait for a minute. then gently place a little piece in the oil. It should come up to the surface quickly without browning immediately. If it browns too quickly, let the oil cool down. If it doesnt come up early or breaks, add a little flour (or a tbsp of semoline or sooji, mix and wait for 10 mins before trying again).
- Once the test piece is perfect, gently add the gulab jamun into the oil. Keep the flame on low.
- As soon as you see spots appear on them, start rotating the jamuns to ensure equal browning.
- Once they reach a deep brown color , remove and drain on a kitchen towel for 2 mins.
- Then place the hot gulab jamuns in the sugar syrup.
- Now place this pot with the jamuns and sugar syrup on simmer for 2-3 mins. This helps the gulab jamuns to absorb the syrup and it becomes soft and tender. Do not overcook or they will break!!
- Serve hot or let it cool to room temperature and chill!