Gulab Jamun is hands down one of India's most popular desserts, especially during festival and wedding seasons. And this is the most perfect gulab jamun recipe I have ever made. It is an easy recipe and foolproof. I can't say enough good things about it. The key to these soft luscious jamuns is khoya. I am not going to lie this recipe took time to come together. It took practice, patients, tears, and multiple phone calls but I am so happy with the end result.
My friends Sush and Ravi make this gulab jamun recipe all the time. The story behind this recipe is so special. Ravi's grandfather was a freedom fighter in the Indian independence movement. He ran a coal business when he wasn't in jail for various protests. He supplied coal to a few restaurants. One of his clients was a North Indian sweet maker in the city whose gulab jamuns were quite famous. On much coaxing the halwai (sweet maker) shared the recipe with Ravi's granddad (perhaps for some free coal). He took the recipe to his wife who went on to master it. She passed it down to her daughter, who then passed it to her daughter-in-law and my friend Sush. I am so glad I now get to make this gulab jamun for you!
What is Gulab Jamun
Traditional gulab jamun has khoya in it, which is evaporated milk solids. They are pillowy soft dough balls that are deep-fried till golden and then soaked in a sweet sugary syrup. Gulab means rose. The sugar syrup is often flavoured with rosewater, saffron, and or, cardamom. This version is simple. I haven't used any of the flavorings, because I think the recipe is perfect and doesn't need any additions. Feel free to add a dash of rosewater or a few saffron strands or a few crushed cardamom pods to the sugar syrup.
Making the Sugar Syrup
Sugar syrup can be tricky and it is often hard to tell when it's ready for your gulab jamuns. Syrup consistency is key in this recipe. If it is too thick the jamuns will not absorb the syrup, if it is too thin the jamuns will fall apart in the syrup. When making the syrup, stir the sugar and water in a deep saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes until a candy thermometer reads 155 - 165 F (68 - 73C) and the sugar has completely dissolved. Take the sugar syrup off the heat, it needs to be slightly warm but not hot when you pour it over the jamuns.
Shaping your Gulab Jamuns
Jamuns are usually shaped into small round balls, here I have shaped it into an oblong which is referred to as langcha or fiji jamuns. It truly doesn't matter how you shape it. You will end up with more jamuns if you shape them round but they all taste scrumptious.
Texture and Weighing Ingredients
I recommend that you weigh your ingredients, this yields the best results. You will notice, I have not shared volumes here and I have found they never work for me when making gulab jamuns. I also recommend weighing out your jamuns, that way they will all look relatively even.
Diwali is always such a special time, I love all the snacks and sweets that are prepared and shared. This easy gulab jamun recipe always makes the cut! It is perfect for Diwali entertaining or any time of the year. It can be made ahead, yields about 50 - 60 pieces, and is a crowd-pleaser. If you are looking for other Diwali Recipes check out my spicy Diamond Cuts.
For Gulab Jamuns
- 250 g grated khoya
- 85 g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon thick yogurt
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- ½ cup milk
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For Sugar Syrup
- 400 g granulated sugar
- 600 ml water
For the Gulab Jamuns
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an 'S' blade, combine grated khoya, flour, baking soda, yogurt, ghee, ¼ cup milk, and salt.
- Pulse 3- 5 times until the dough starts to get noticeably crumbly.
- Add more milk a tablespoon at a time, till the dough comes together into a soft smooth ball.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl and knead the dough for about 2 minutes till it is soft and supple. Do not over knead.
- Make smaller balls (about 7-9 grams per ball) and roll them either into cylindrical shapes or round balls.
- Deep fry in batches until golden and crisp.
For the Sugar Syrup
- In a deep saucepan combine water and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes until a candy thermometer reads 155 - 165 F (68 - 73C) and the sugar has completely dissolved. you can add flavorings like rose water, saffron, and cardamom at this point.
- Take the sugar syrup off the heat, it needs to be slightly warm but not hot when you pour it over the jamuns.
To Soak the Gulab Jamun
- Once all the jamuns are fried, transfer them to a wide bowl. Pour the warm sugar syrup over it and let it sit for a few 2-3 hours. If the syrup is cold, warm it slightly. Stir to ensure all the jamuns are well coated in the sugar syrup. The jamuns will absorb the syrup and will puff up slightly.
- Garnish with chopped pistachio and dried rose petals if desired.
- It is best to prepare this a day in advance, this ensures the gulab jamuns have fully absorbed the sugar syrup.
Avoid letting the sugar syrup get to a one-string consistency, which makes the syrup too thick.
It is best to prepare this a day in advance, this ensures the gulab jamuns have fully absorbed the sugar syrup.