Wednesday, October 20, 2010

gulab jamun

Today was Matt's 20th birthday. Of course, I had to do something. Normally I bake some type of dessert bar for my friends on their birthday, but Matt isn't just any old friend. Aside from being one of my bests, Matt is pretty much an honorary desi. And one of his most favorite desserts in the world happens to be one that I've grown up with: gulab jamun.

Now, I don't really know how to describe gulab jamun well, but it's basically balls of dough (charmingly called "waffle balls"), deep fried, and soaked in sugar. Honestly, you can't go wrong.

Though, I like to pride myself on having one of the best gulab jamun recipes out there. And believe me, I've had a lot of gulab jamun in my time.

Before I type the recipe up for you guys, let me be clear. As traditional and old as this dessert is (it was introduced to the Indian subcontinent by the Arabs during the Moghul Empire), my ingredients are rather...unconventional, for lack of a better word. Gulab jamun is normally made from milk solids (usually khoya) mixed with flour. Mine? Well, here's the recipe. Mom and I have been trying to perfect it for years, and I think we've finally gotten it right.

Gulab Jamun

You'll need:
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons pancake mix (I use Bisquick or Hungry Jack)
  • 1 cup dry milk powder
  • 1/3 cup canned table cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom (or 2 pods, cracked)
  • drop of kewra or rosewater, if available

Prepare 2 saucepans, one large, one small, each over medium heat. In the large saucepan, combine sugar, water, and cardamom  (and kewra or rosewater, if using) to make a simple sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower temperature and let simmer gently. In the smaller saucepan, fill it about halfway with canola oil. Keep heat on medium.

Meanwhile, prepare the dough. Thoroughly mix pancake mix and milk powder with a fork until well blended. Pour cream slowly, while stirring dough, until dough starts to combine. Use your hands and knead mixture until it comes together as one uniform lump of dough. Break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls, as smooth as possible (they should be about 1-inch in diameter). You should get 15-18 balls.

Gently lower 4 or 5 balls into the oil, and let fry until  they turn a deep brown. Make sure they don't burn; if they start browning too quickly, they are not cooking thoroughly enough and you need to lower the temperature of the oil. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer the balls into the simple syrup. Let soak syrup for at least 10 minutes, if not for half an hour to an hour.

Gulab jamun keep well at room temperature or fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

So delicious. I do like them a lot with the pancake mix; I think it's because they turn out lighter than they would if I were to use flour.

Plus, pancakes are delicious.

And these things are called "waffle balls" anyway, and that's basically the same thing, right? Right.

After Matt's had cooled down, I sprinkled them with a bit of shredded coconut and ground almonds, just for some texture (and feigned professionalism). Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up some decent containers from Kroger when I went grocery shopping yesterday, which was the entire reason I went to Kroger in the first place, so I had to resort to Tupperware to "gift-wrap" them.

Still, I'd say a treat from the homeland beats cupcakes any day.

(yes, I still hate cupcakes.)


  1. Thank you so much! Such a great gift - and they definitely made my day! They're so delicious, I may or may not have had one for breakfast today... :)

  2. DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for posting the recipe! I can't wait to try it out!


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