About this dish
Gulab jamun (literally, rose fruit), is one of the most popular north North Indian desserts. It consists of fried balls made of dehydrated milk that are then soaked in a rose and cardamom flavoured syrup. This, like many North Indian sweets, is an intensely sweet and delicious dessert.
Gulab jamun in India is made with khoya which is a form of preserved milk where milk is dehydrated into a solid playdough like block. This can then be stored for longer periods of time and is used in many desserts such as burfi, peda, halwa among many others.
However, since khoya isn't available internationally, our recipe is a simplified version that uses milk powder. For best results, we recommend using full-fat or full-cream milk powder. We got great results using 'NIDO' brand, however, the gulab jamun weren't quite the same when we made them with skimmed milk powder (magermilchpulver). However, if that's all that you can find, then add an extra tablespoon of ghee to the mix.
Another non-traditional ingredient here is the addition of an egg. We also tested a few egg-less variations of this recipe, however, the results were much more consistent and tasted better with the egg version. You don't taste the egg in the gulab jamun at all but, since we're using milk powder, and not khoya, the addition of the egg, helps to bind everything better and adds some nutritional diversity to the dessert as well. If you don't eat eggs, don't fret, we have an eggless variation of the recipe in notes.
Sugar Syrup or "Chashni:
- 1 cup or 200g white sugar
- 1.5 cups or 375ml water
- 4 pods green cardamom
- pinch saffron threads
- 1 tsp rose water*
- 1 cup or 100g full-fat milk powder
- 1 tbsp or 10g all purpose wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (NOT baking soda)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- pinch salt
- 1 large egg*
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 2-3 tsp yoghurt (if required)
- 1 tbsp pistachios (optional)
- oil or ghee for deep frying
Sugar Syrup or "Chashni"
- In a medium-sized pot on medium-low heat, bring the sugar, water, cardamom pods and saffron to a simmer.
- Mix occasionally till the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup thickens.
- Add 1 tsp rosewater (if using rose essence, you only need to add a few drops).
- Keep the syrup warm.
- In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (milk powder, flour, baking powder, cardamom powder and salt).
- Add the ghee to the dry ingredients and rub it in with your fingers till it's well incorporated into the dry ingredients.
- Make a well in the middle and add the whisked egg to the dry ingredient and ghee mixture. Check notes for an eggless variation of this recipe.
- Knead to form a soft dough. If your dough crumbles and doesn't come together easily, gradually add in 1-2 teaspoons of yoghurt or milk to further hydrate the dough.
- Let the dough rest for 5-10 mins to autolyse. Cover with a damp cloth so it doesn't dry up. In the meantime, chop the pistachios for the filling (if using).
- Then roll the dough into individual 15g balls that are smooth, glossy and crack free. If you're filling them with pistachios, then first flatten the dough on your palm, and make an indent with your thumb. Fill the indent with about 1/4 tsp of chopped pistachios. Pinch to seal the filling and then roll.
- Deep fry the gulab jamun balls on medium heat (around 150°C) till golden brown. Move the balls continuously to ensure even browning across the surface of each gulab jamun. Some prefer their gulab jamun at a light golden brown and some prefer a deep dark brown version, called kala jamun. Fry to your preferred level of brownness.
- Immediately transfer the gulab jamun to the warm sugar syrup and let them soak in the syrup for 3-4 hours or till they have almost doubled in size and are soft and juicy.
Serve the gulab jamun warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of hot chai.
Instead of the egg, use 50-60g of yoghurt whisked together with an additional teaspoon of flour.