Gulab Jamun

Whether you have always been a fan of Indian food or are just now trying it out, this is a sweet dessert you must try at least once in your life. If you have already known of famous delicious Indian main dishes such as chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, or vegetable samosas, then you cannot miss this mouth-watering dessert, Gulab Jamun.

What is Gulab Jamun?

Gulab jamun is a beloved Indian dessert consisting of deep-fried milk balls soaked in aromatic syrup. According to some of my friends who came from India, this dessert is believed to be dated back to medieval India when it was invented as a delicacy to serve the emperor. Not surprisingly, it earned the emperor’s approval. The name Gulab Jamun also has a very interesting meaning. The word Gulab technically means floral-water, or in this case, rose-water because the syrup to soak these deep-fried balls into is infused with rose-water. The word Jamun translates to black plum. It is obvious because after deep-frying, the dough balls have a rounded shape and dark brown color. Nowadays, this dessert keeps winning a lot of hearts and minds of eaters from around the world. As long as there is an Indian restaurant, there is Gulab Jamun on the dessert menu.

What is Gulab Jamun Made Of?

In almost every Indian recipe, there are many different types of spices used. This gave each dish its unique flavor and appearance. The main ingredient in Gulab Jamun is milk-solid or milk powder, flour, and spices. Although there are a lot of different recipes teaching how to make Gulab Jamun, we can also buy premixed Gulab Jamun powder from Indian supermarkets. 

In the traditional way, the most important ingredient to prepare Gulab Jamun is milk-solid or khoya. Khoya is also known by other names such as khoa or mawa. Nowadays, in order to save time, most recipes recommend buying khoya from the store. If you want to make it at home, it would take around two hours or more since khoya is milk simmered on low heat until all of the water evaporates. Since khoya is nothing but milk-solid, we need to have something added to help the balls hold their shapes in the fryer. Thus, we can either use flour or semolina, which is a form of coarsely milled wheat, to mix with the milk-solid. The use of either flour or semolina also depends on each chef’s preference. If you want thicker and more chewy Gulab Jamun, you should choose flour to add to the milk solid. Since semolina has a relatively larger grain size, adding it into the milk-solid will make the Gulab Jamun more tender after deep-fried. To prevent the semolina from soaking up too much moisture out of the milk-solid, you can soak it in milk before adding it to the mixture. Other than the main ingredients, we also need to add milk or cream, and clarified butter into the mixture to create a paste then shaping them into little balls and deep-fry.

The next important part of Gulab Jamun is its syrup. To make good syrup, most recipes call for cardamom, saffron, cloves, and rose water. On medium-low heat, add sugar, water, and spices except for rose-water or you will risk burning off its aroma. Simmer for some time until the liquid thickens. Add a tiny amount of lemon juice before simmering to keep the sugary liquid from crystalizing. Once the syrup is done, let it cool down, add rose-water and the Gulab Jamun balls. Let them soak for at least four hours or overnight.

According to my friends, gulab jamun reminds them of sweet memories spent around their family. Since this dessert is super delicious, easy to make, and affordable, a lot of people choose gulab jamun to be their dessert of choice in family gatherings. 

If you have not already tried Gulab Jamun, be sure to order them the next time you visit an Indian restaurant.

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