Happy Deepavali everyone! This Gulab Jamun is a sweet from North India that is very popular during Deepavali. My father used to make gulab jamun, certainly with the help of my mother, using milk powder instead of koya (milk concentrated to a solid block). Though we didn’t know the correct procedure, we all enjoyed the adventure of making and eating it. I have standardised the recipe after reading many other methods of making it. I also make it with milk powder because koya is not easily available in Tamil Nadu. Serve it with vanilla ice cream for a glorious combination of flavours and taste!
Gulab means rose and jamun means blueberries which are called Nagapazham in Tamil. The jamuns don’t resemble the berries at all, but they are soaked in the rose-flavoured sugar syrup, hence the name. If you call it gulab jamun, then one must flavour the syrup with rose essence instead of cardamom powder (which is how many people incorrectly make it). Families in deep southern Tamil Nadu loved the sweet but did not know the correct name and used to refer to it as Globe John 🙂
Milk powder is a concentrated source of milk protein, lactose (the milk sugar), and milk fat. The jamuns are deep fried and also soaked in sugar syrup which makes this sweet a Calorie Colossus but irresistible. Try to restrict yourself to only one or two jamuns if you care about your waistline.
For the Jamun (Milk Powder Balls)
- 1 C Whole Milk Powder
- 1/3 C Maida (Refined Wheat Flour)
- ¼ tsp Baking Soda
- ¼ C Curds/Unsweetened Yoghurt
- 1 T melted Unsalted Butter
- Flavourless Vegetable Oil for deep frying
For the Sugar Syrup
- 2 C Sugar
- 2 C Water
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Rose Essence
- Place the sugar, water, and salt in saucepan. Bring to boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer (about 10 minutes) till slightly thick. Take care not to bring to the thread stage.
- Remove from heat. Add the rose essence. Cover the saucepan and set aside.
- While the sugar syrup is getting ready, place the milk powder, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and mix with fingers till it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the curds, a spoonful at a time. Mix and knead till a soft and pliable dough is obtained.
- Rest the dough for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a small kadai or wok to a low temperature.
- Break the dough into marble-sized pieces. Using both the palms, shape into round balls without any crack on the surface.
- Fry the balls, a few at a time, till they becomes golden brown.
- Remove and add immediately to the hot sugar syrup.
- Allow the jamun to soak for at least 2 hours before serving.
- When heated, the baking soda gives a slightly unpleasant flavour. This is neutralised by the acid in the curds. If you are using baking powder instead of baking soda, you may add milk instead of curds because baking powder does not give an unpleasant flavour that needs to be neutralised.
- I use sunflower oil supplemented with rice bran oil for its neutral flavour and cholesterol-lowering properties.
- When shaping the balls, cracks on the surface should be avoided as they will make the balls split when frying.
- Restrict the size of the balls to resemble marbles. The baking soda in the balls will increase the size when fried and also the fried jamun will swell even further when it absorbs the hot sugar syrup.
- The temperature of the oil should be maintained low; otherwise, the jamun will brown too quickly for the centre to cook.
- If the sugar syrup has cooled, heat it again before adding the jamun. Both the jamun and the syrup should be hot for the jamun to absorb the syrup.