I’ve made a gulab jamun cheesecake, and also gulab jamun cupcakes. But I’ve never posted an actual gulab jamun recipe.
This is mainly because the though of making gulab jamun scared me….I don’t know why but it seemed intimidating.
But I have now learnt how to do it, so let’s get into it!
What is gulab jamun?
Just in case you have no idea what gulab jamun is, let me give a quick explanation.
Gulab jamun is a dessert that is very popular in South Asia. It’s essentiality a fried ball of dough, that is then soaked in a cardamon/rose flavoured syrup.
You end up with a super soft, juicy dessert that tastes amazing warm, at room temperature or even cold!
There are a few different ways to make it, but the 2 most common ways are by either making them with khoya, which is dried milk solids. Or with milk powder.
Making khoya takes a while, and if you wanted to buy it, it’s not something that is easy to find.
So for these, we’re going to be using milk powder.
Ingredients for the gulab jamun
Here are the ingredients you are going to need to make these!
For the dough:
- Milk powder – use full fat milk powder.
- Plain flour – also known as all-purpose flour.
- Fine semolina – this is going to keep the insides of your gulab jamun soft.
- Baking powder – to help them rise a little.
- Oil – any flavourless oil works, I used vegetable oil. Ghee is also great to use.
- Milk – use whole milk.
For the syrup:
- Granulated sugar – caster sugar works too.
- Cardamom pods – for flavour. you can use as many, or as little as you want.
- Saffron – also for flavour. Again you can use as much or as little as you want.
- Rose water – for flavour and it also adds a great smell.
So the method is pretty straightforward, here’s a quick overview of what you are going to need to do:
- Make the dough.
- Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- As the dough rests, make the syrup.
- Now form balls out of your dough.
- Fry the dough balls.
- Once fried, let them soak in the syrup for at least 2 hours.
A few tips
When making balls out the dough, don’t apply too much pressure
You want to roll them gently, try not to apply too much pressure and compact the dough too much…if that makes sense.
If you compact the dough too much, they can end up being a little hard in the centre, after they have been soaked. So be gentle!
Make sure the are no cracks in the balls
When you roll balls out of your dough, try to make sure that they don’t have a lot of cracks in them.
If there is a lot, they will just fall apart as they fry. So try to make smooth balls!
Fry them on low heat
Once your oil is ready, lower your heat and add the dough balls into it.
You don’t want to fry gulab jamun on high heat, because then the outside will cook but the inside won’t.
So to test if the oil is ready, I add one of the balls into it. If it is gently bubbling, the oil is ready. If the oil is aggressively bubbling, it is too hot, let it cool down.
You want the oil to be gently bubbling throughout the whole frying process. If at any point it starts bubbling a little more aggressively, lower the heat, or turn it off for a minute or 2.
Add the hot gulab jamun into warm syrup
I’ve found that everyone has their own way to do this.
Some people like to add room temperature gulab jamun into hot syrup. Some people like to add hot gulab jamun into warm syrup. And then some like to add hot ones into hot syrup.
It’s just up to preference to be honest. But personally for me, I’ve found that they soak up the syrup best when you add the hot gulab into warm syrup. So in the recipe below, I’ve wrote that you should do it this way!
Although the process of making gulab jamun is pretty simple, there are quite a few things that can go wrong.
With that being said though, I also want to say that the problems I am about to mention, if any of them happen to you, the gulab jamun will still amazing.
So don’t worry about it too much, things can go wrong and that’s ok, they will still taste good. But here’s how to prevent certain issues:
The dough balls have too many cracks
If you are rolling the dough into balls and finding it impossible to get the cracks out, the dough is just too dry.
Add some more milk to it, then try again.
The gulab jamun lost their shape as they soaked
Sometimes when you add your gulab jamun into the syrup, after a while you might notice that they are no longer balls, they’re a little flat.
There are 2 possible reasons for this. The first one is that you added too much baking powder. So make sure to measure the baking powder correctly.
And the second reason is that you added the gulab jamun into syrup that is too hot. You want it to be warm when you touch it, but not hot. If it hurts when you touch it, it’s too hot.
The gulab jamun is not soaking the syrup
I’ve found that the main reason for this is because your syrup is too cold. Again you want it to be warm when you add the fried dough balls.
They are hard in the centre
There are also 2 reasons why this can happen. One reason is because the syrup is too cold.
Or you might have applied too much pressure when you rolled the dough balls. Like I mentioned, you want to roll them gently!
Storing the gulab jamun
Once the gulab jamun have been soaked, if you don’t plan on eating them all at once. Put them into an airtight container, I recommend adding some of the syrup into the container too.
Then they can stay at room temperature for about 5 days, or in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
It’s up to you how you want to eat them, you can eat them straight out of the fridge, you could let them come to room temp, or you could warm them in your microwave.
I like the way they taste cold sometimes, but then sometimes I want them to be super hot. It depends on my mood.
Here are a few other recipes I think you might also like:
- For the dough:
100g milk powder
60g plain flour
20g fine semolina
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
20ml vegetable oil
- For the syrup:
500g granulated sugar
5 cardamon pods
A few strands of saffron
1 tablespoon rose water
- Making the dough:
- Add the milk powder, flour, semolina and baking powder into a bowl. Mix these together.
- Add the oil into this and use your hands to mix this in. Then add the milk and mix, using your hands, until you get a soft slightly sticky dough.
- Cover this and leave aside for 30 minutes.
- Making the syrup:
- In a pot, add the sugar, water, cardamon and the saffron. Give this a stir then place it onto medium heat.
- Heat this until it comes to a boil, then let it boil for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn the heat off, cover the pot and leave it aside.
- Making the dough balls:
- Once your dough has rested for 30 minutes, you can start forming the balls.
- Rub your hands with a little bit of oil, then get 20g of the dough. Gently roll this into a ball, try not to apply too much pressure when you do this, roll it gently. Also make sure that there isn't a lot of cracks in it.
- Repeat this until you've used all of the dough.
- Frying the gulab jamun:
- In a pot, heat up some oil. To check if the oil is ready, I add a small piece of the dough, if it starts gently bubbling, the oil is ready.
- Add your dough balls into this and fry until they are a deep golden brown colour. If at any point during frying the gulab jamuns start aggressively bubbling, lower the heat. You want to make sure they are only gently bubbling during the process, so that they can cook slowly. Also as they cook keep them moving, carefully, so that they brown evenly.
- Once fried, let the oil drain off of them for a few seconds then add them into your warm syrup. Your syrup should feel warm, if it has cooled down too much, heat it up a little.
- Give them a little stir, then cover this and leave the gulab jamun in the syrup to soak for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, they are done. Enjoy!