Gulab jamun (or gulaab jamun) is among India's most popular desserts and it's often referred to as "Indian doughnuts." This delicious treat consists of soft, melt-in-your-mouth, fried dumplings that are traditionally made of thickened or reduced milk and soaked in rose-flavored sugar syrup.
The name comes from two words. Gulab means "rose" and refers to the rose syrup. Jamun is a kind of deep purple-colored Indian berry, which the dark brown dumplings resemble after they're cooked.
The rose flavored syrup lends the dessert a beautiful fragrance and makes it feel both decadent and very special. Gulab jamun can be served warm or at room temperature and with a variety of extras to make the dessert even more exceptional. Best of all, it's relatively easy to make.
- 3 cups sugar (white)
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon cardamom (powder)
- 2 tablespoons rose water
- 3 cups powdered milk
- 1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup heavy cream (or double cream, thickened; approximately)
- Vegetable, canola or sunflower oil for frying
- In a deep pan, mix the water and sugar and boil until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and add the cardamom powder and rose water. Mix well and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the powdered milk, flour, and baking powder well.
- Add a little of the thickened cream at a time and knead to make a dough that is medium-soft but not sticky. You do not need to use all the cream, just enough to reach the desired consistency. The success of this dessert depends almost entirely on how well you knead the dough and the smoother it is, the better.
- Once the dough is ready, divide it into walnut-sized balls and roll between lightly greased palms until smooth. Any cracks will show up get worse later and could lead to the "milk balls" cracking as they are fried. This is not desirable, so take all the time you need for this step in order to get it right.
- While you are making the balls, heat the oil for deep frying in a wide pan on low to medium heat.
- Fry the dumplings, stirring often to brown on all sides. Do not cook on very high heat as the dumplings will burn on the outside and remain raw inside.
- Once cooked, drain with a slotted spoon while removing the dumplings from the oil and transfer immediately into the rose syrup.
- Repeat this until all the dumplings are cooked and in the syrup.
- Allow the dumplings to soak in the syrup for at least 2 hours before serving.
There are many ways that you can enjoy gulab jamun. They are delicious on their own when drained from the syrup and it's common to roll them in desiccated coconut. You can also serve them directly in the syrup.
Warm gulab jamuns are fantastic when topped with ice cream or a thick cream. You can also garnish them with shavings of dried fruit like pistachio and add a sprinkling of almonds if you wish.