Friday 7 July 2017

Gulab Jamun.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Those of you who follow me on Snapchat will know all about my endless gulab jamun attempts.
These classic Pakistani sweet treats can be quite tricky to get just right. Let me tell you about my attempts - four in all.
The first time was a total disaster. I didn't use enough milk powder and so the balls were really soggy. They actually fell apart whilst soaking in the syrup. Plus I put them straight from the frying pan into the syrup which made the syrup really greasy from all the oil droplets. Not pretty. Guys, after this first attempt, I was pretty deflated. Gulab jamun are my favourite mitai and our local Pakistani sweet shop makes the best ones ever leaving me no need to make them at home so I was ready to give up then and there.
But I was really annoyed, you know? Like, I should have been able to make them. After all, they're only dough balls soaked in syrup. How hard could they be? So, with the Mother's help, I tried again. And wow, they were amazing. So juicy, soft but not too soft, and just like the shop ones. This was it. This was the recipe. Striking whilst the iron was hot, I shot that same recipe (attempt 3) for the blog and they were terrible! Really flat and cracked! How, you ask when that same recipe was so good at attempt 2? Well, because I had used those dreaded cup measures which are all well and good if you're used to them and not grams. So, the measurements were a little off which meant that the end result was not the best.
So, finally here we are with attempt 4. I have provided both gram and cup measures in the written recipe. Use what you're used to but if making gulab jamun for the first time, approach it as you would a cake recipe with its precise measurements and you'll be fine. Also, don't be too hard on yourself if they don't turn out completely perfect. Don't be like me and compare your homemade ones to the local sweet shop who have been churning out the most perfect gulab jamun for nearly thirty odd years. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. And, since this recipe is pretty quick (done without too much soaking in an hour), you can make them again no problem. Let me know how you get on! We can do this!

A Simple List of Ingredients:

For the Sugar Syrup:
1. Water
2. Caster Sugar
3. Green Cardamoms
4. Saffron Strands
5. Lemon Juice

For the Dough Balls:
1. Pure Milk Powder
2. Plain Flour
3. Bicarbonate of Soda
4. Melted Butter
5. Milk
6. Vegetable Oil, to deep fry

Bismillah, let's begin!

First job, make the sugar syrup. This one is particularly sweet using equal parts water to sugar. We have always eaten really sweet gulab jamun. They are a treat once in a while so we like to have them be a real sugar hit. You may reduce the sugar, if you prefer.

Into a deep saucepan over a high heat, pour 380ml (1 and 1/2 cups) Water.

Add in 330g (1 and 1/2 cups) Caster Sugar. You can use granulated too but I find that the caster dissolves faster.

Give them a stir.

Then, add in 4 Green Cardamoms, cracked. We crack them so that they release their flavour without being too overpowering.

The water may have started to boil a little at this point, which is fine. Add in a Pinch of Saffron Strands.

And, squeeze in a Few Drops of Lemon Juice.

Stir and let the whole thing come to a boil. We want the sugar to have dissolved completely.

Once boiled, turn the heat down so that the syrup gently bubbles and let it cook until thickened slightly. Once done, take it off the heat and let it cool a little. It will thicken more as it cools which is fine. 

Whilst the syrup is cooking, I like to make the dough balls. The main ingredient is pure milk powder and I used Natco.

Into a mixing bowl, measure out 112g (1 cup) Pure Milk Powder.

Add in 30g (3 tablespoons) Plain Flour.

This is the tablespoon I used in this recipe - one of those 15ml ones which you can get in a baking spoon kit like this one.

To help the gulab jamun puff up, add in 1/8 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda.

Give the dry ingredients a stir to combine.

Next, melted butter. I melted 20g Butter in the microwave.

Then, measured out 15ml (1 tablespoon) Melted Butter.

And, pour it in to the dry ingredients.

Use your fingertips to rub the melted butter into the dry ingredients.

When you have a crumbly mixture, we can add in the milk.

I used semi-skimmed but you can use whole milk too.

Overall, we'll need 55ml (8 tablespoons), which we will add in gradually ...

... mixing and kneading the dough with your hands as you go. You may not need all the milk or you may even need more milk than me. It's better to use your hands so that you get a real feel for the dough and what the texture should be like.

What we want is for all the mixture to come together in a dough ball.

At this point, try to make a small ball with the dough. If it holds its shape and is pretty smooth, the dough is ready. If it crumbles too much and has cracks, add a drop more milk and mix until no longer crumbly.

When the dough is ready, we can roll the balls. I used a small ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough so that all the balls were the same size. For me, this mixture made 10 gulab jamun and each one weighed 22g.

Lightly oil your hands with vegetable oil or leftover melted butter to make rolling the balls easier. 

Each ball should be rolled between your palms until it is as smooth as you can get it. The smoother the ball, the smoother the outside of your gulab jamun will be when fried.

Again, don't too hard on yourself. Practice here makes perfect. Once all the balls are rolled, we can fry.

To fry, heat enough Vegetable Oil in a pan to deep fry over a low heat. Gulab jamun fry gently. Add in one ball to test the temperature of the oil.

When it goes in, it shouldn't sizzle too much but instead should bubble gently.

Keep turning it until it's a deep golden brown colour all over.

This will take around 5-7 minutes. When it's ready, drain well and move onto paper towels.

Now that you've tested one, you can fry the rest in batches.

It's better to fry them slowly and gently. This will result in a deep golden brown on outside and the inside will be cooked through. Drain well and and place on paper towels. Continue frying the rest.

Once fried, let the gulab jamun drain and cool on the paper towels for 20-30 minutes. I find this is the best way otherwise the syrup will become oily. At this point, you may also prick them all over with a toothpick to help the syrup absorb better. This step is optional.

Once we are ready to soak, take a deep dish.

I like to sieve my syrup but you may leave it as it is, if you prefer.

The syrup should be warm but not too hot.

Sieve it through.

Until you're left with a bright yellow syrup.

Grab your fried dough balls.

And, pop them into the syrup.

Turn them over a good few times to coat them in the syrup.

You can leave the gulab jamun in the syrup for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

But, because the syrup is so sweet, you can get away with even 30 minutes.

If you keep them for longer, remember to turn every now and then.

These ones in the pictures were left in the fridge overnight. To serve, remove them from the syrup or serve a drizzle of syrup on the side.

The gulab jamun are amazing cold or hot. For a full on dessert, blast them in the microwave for 20 seconds and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I love these gulab jamun because they are a real sugar hit. When made properly, they're soft and juicy from all the syrup but still hold their shape. I really hope you give them a go!

Gulab Jamun.

Prep Time: About 20 minutes + extra time to cool and soak.
Cook Time: About 20 minutes.
Serves: Makes 10 gulab jamun.


For the Sugar Syrup
380ml (1 and 1/2 cups) Water
330g (1 and 1/2 cups) Caster Sugar
4 Green Cardamoms, cracked
Pinch of Saffron Strands
Few drops of Lemon Juice

For the Dough Balls
112g (1 cup) Pure Milk Powder (I used Natco)
30g (3 tablespoons) Plain Flour
1/8 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
15ml (1 tablespoon) Melted Butter (melt 20g butter then measure 1 tablespoon)
55ml (8 tablespoons) Milk, as needed
Vegetable Oil, to deep fry

Make the sugar syrup:
Place all the ingredients into a large, deep saucepan. Stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a gentle bubble and leave to cook until the syrup has slightly thickened. Leave to cool a little.

Make the dough:
Into a bowl, mix together the pure milk powder, plain flour and bicarbonate of soda. Rub the melted butter in with your fingertips. Gradually add the milk, mixing with your hand as you go, until a dough has formed.

Try making a small ball with the dough by. If it holds its shape, the dough is ready. If it crumbles a little and has cracks, add a drop more milk and mix until no longer crumbly.

Shape the dough:
Roll the dough into small balls kneading them slightly as you so that they are smooth with not too many cracks. You may lightly oil your hands with vegetable oil which will make rolling easier. I used a small ice cream scoop so that each ball was the same size. For me, each ball weighed 22g and my mixture made 10 balls.

Fry the balls:
Heat enough vegetable oil to deep fry in a deep pan over a low heat. The temperature for the oil should not be really hot as the gulab jamuns fry gently. Add 1 ball to test the temperature. When the ball goes in, it should gently bubble in the oil and brown slowly on both sides. Let it brown then move onto paper towels.

Fry the rest in batches (I did 5 at a time) so as not to overcrowd the pan and drop the temperature too much. Once they're a deep golden brown on all sides and puffed up, drain well on paper towels. Continue to fry then let the balls cool for 20-30 minutes. You may prick them all over with a toothpick to help the syrup absorb better.

Soak the balls in syrup:
Pour the syrup into a shallow dish. You may sieve it, if you prefer. Add in the balls and toss them to coat in the syrup. Let the balls sit in the syrup for a few hours or overnight until you're ready to serve. As the sugar syrup is very sweet, you can get away with even leaving them in for 30 minutes.

You can serve the balls in the syrup or take them out once they've soaked enough. We prefer them without any extra syrup. Serve the gulab jamun hot or cold - they're delicious either way. And yes, these are epic served hot (blast them in the microwave for 20 seconds) with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

  • These gulab jamun took me 4 attempts to get right so don't be too hard on yourself if it's your first time. They can be a little tricky.
  • I have provided the measurements in both grams and cups. I highly recommend that you use the gram and ml measurement for a more accurate result. For the tablespoon and teaspoon, I used a standard baking set which you can get in most shops.
  • This recipe will make a very sweet sugar syrup. You can reduce the sugar if you prefer or take the balls out of the syrup sooner.
  • Gulab jamun balls are rolled smaller than you might expect because they will puff up when frying and also once soaked in the syrup.

Keep me in your duas please, and enjoy your gulab jamun!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Spice Enthusiast
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