If you’ve ever been to an Indian lunch/dinner buffet, you will have noticed that in the “dessert” section, there is usually a large tray of these “golden brown dumplings” floating in a sugary syrup. They are usually served warm and the dumplings are extremely spongey and soft. The syrup is extremely sweet, and well, sugary!
These dumplings are called “Gulab Jamun” and are a very common dessert in Pakistani/Indian cuisine. The word Gulab means “Rose,” as many people use rose syrup or rose essence in this recipe. Jamun means “Berry”, because the size of the dumpling is like the large, black colored Jamun fruit.
Typically Gulab Jamun is made with a type of dough called “Mava” or “Khoya” – it is a whole milk that is cooked for a few hours till all the cream and whey seperate entirely and leaves a golden brown milky dough at the bottom of the pot. The whey basically evaporates from the length of time the milk is heated. Usually the process takes from 2-3hrs from start to finish.
Realistically, I don’t have time to wait for milk to boil down to the “mava” state when all I’m trying to do is make 1 batch of Gulab Jamun, so I’ve opted to the modern technique of using dry, evaporated milk to obtain a very similar consistency to the dumpling dough.
The result is just as delicious. The dumpling is soft, sweet and acts like a soft sponge that soaks up all the sweet syrup it is soaked in. AND – it take a fraction of the time to prepare compared to the traditional Indian methods.
Here is a very simple Gulab Jamun recipe I wanted to share with you. It is really a great recipe because alot of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen/pantry on a daily basis. It can be served with the dumplings soaking in the simple syrup, OR you can make them fancy by soaking them quickly in the syrup just enough to absorb the sweetness and then plating them individually with mixed nuts sprinkled on top and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side.
Trust me – you’re going to LOVE this recipe!
Servings: 35-38 (small size dumplings)
*NOTE: For larger portions (~70 small dumplings) – DOUBLE ingredients with exact measurements.
- 8 oz of dry non-fat milk powder
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 2oz. semolina
- 2oz. all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom powder
- 2 tsp of melted ghee (clarified butter)
- 5-6 threads of saffron
- 2-3oz whole milk + 1oz extra (for softening dough if needed)
- 3-4 cups of oil for frying (any type except olive oil)
- 27oz. of sugar (3 cups and 3 oz.)
- 4.5 cups of water
- In a medium bowl, soak the semolina and saffron in the milk and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: milk powder, baking soda, all purpose flour and cardamom.
- Once all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated and the semolina looks thickened in the other bowl, combine the wet and dry ingredients together into 1 bowl, along with the ghee and mix well till you have a soft dough.
- Once dough forms, cover with a plate or dry, clean cloth and let the dough rest for 20-25 minutes. (The dough will soften more and the semolina will absorb all the wet ingredients more increasing the size of the dough portion.)
- After resting period is over, knead dough again for 2 minutes, until no longer sticky to the touch.
- Shape the mixture into 35-38 small balls (1 tsp size of dough ball or 1/2 inch)
- Heat the oil on low setting. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add 4-5 dumpling balls at a time into the fryer/wok. Turn constantly until they are golden brown in color. It should take about 5 minutes to cook fully. (When the dumpling is placed into oil, it will drop to bottom of fryer/wok for a 2-3 seconds and then immediately rise to top of oil to puff up.)
- Drain all dumplings on a plate lines with paper towels.
- To make the syrup – dissolve the sugar in the water in a large sauce-pan. Bring to a slow boil on medium-low heat till it starts to gently bubble. Once bubbles begin, turn off heat and leave aside for 10 minutes to cool a bit.
- Very gently, drop a few of the dumplings at a time into the sugar syrup and turn over with a spoon several times to make sure all sides are coated.
- Take out the soaked dumplings and place them in an large heat-proof serving dish.
- Pour the remaining syrup into the serving dish very slowly, to avoid any of the Jamun dumplings from breaking.
- Allow the Gulab Jamun to sit in serving dish at least 1-2hrs at room temperature before serving because the dumplings will soften more in the sugar syrup and like a “sponge” – they will increase in size a bit as they absorb the liquid.
- Just before serving, you may warm up in microwave or oven slightly so they are warm to taste…not hot.
15. You can soak the dumplings in the sugar syrup (LIKE IN STEPS 10 & 11 above) for about 7-10 minutes and then remove them, gently squeeze out any excess liquid dripping out and roll them in dehydrated coconut flakes or top them with a few slivered almonds as decorations.
Regardless of how you decide to serve these Gulab Jamun, they are a definitely crowd pleaser. I always love to serve different types of desserts and treats at my dinner parties or fun events, and this is one recipe you will definitely want to repeat over and over again because of its ease and amazing flavor!
And by the way – remember how I said that “Gulab” means ROSE? The combination of the sugar, cardamom and saffron in this recipe will give your dumplings a very subtle floral taste that goes so well with the sweetness of the syrup, but not overly sweet or overpowering.
If you try this recipe, feel free to tag me on IG @cmspiceculture or leave a comment below with your thoughts!