Be it Ramadan, Diwali or Christmas, no celebration goes without the sweetness of traditional desserts (mithai) in the subcontinent. Sweetness has its own religion, full of love that can make anyone go weak in the knees. Sinful, small fried balls of condensed milk dipped in caramel syrup - gulab jamuns are ubiquitous in Pakistan — no traditional confectionery is complete without the presence of gulab jamun.
The perfect gulab jamun calls for meticulously measured ingredients and a practiced technique. I have watched my mother make them on almost all holidays growing up. Made with khoya (milk powder) and flour and egg, these balls of dough kneaded and then fried till they turn an elusive shade between gold and brown. After the heated oil works its magic, the crystallised sugar in the batter creates a slightly grainy crust, while the jamun‘s white heart remains silky smooth.
Gulab jamun was first prepared in medieval India. The dessert descends from a fritter that Central Asian Turkic invaders brought to India. The word "gulab" is derived from the Persian words gul (flower) and āb (water), referring to the rose water-scented syrup. Jamun" or "jaman" is the Hindi-Urdu word for Syzygium jambolanum, an Indian fruit with a similar size and shape.
This Ramadan if you are away from home and missing the sweetness of gulab jamun, try to make some for yourself by following the recipe here:
- Milk powder - 1 cup
- All-purpose flour - ¼ cup
- Milk - 2 tbsp
- Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
- Ghee / Butter - 2 tbsp
- Egg - 1 ( room temperature)
For Sugar Syrup
- Green Cardamom pods - 2-3
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Water - 1 ½ cup
Preparation of Sugar Syrup
- Mix together all three ingredients mentioned above in a pot on medium flame.
- Boil the syrup until it goes to 1 string consistency. (keep it at low flame to keep it hot while you fry the gulab jamuns in another pan)
Preparation of Dough Balls
- Sieve together milk powder, flour, and baking soda in a bowl.
- Add ghee and mix it well.
- Add milk and egg to the mixture and knead well. If the dough is too dry add a little more milk.
- Once the dough is ready, grease your hands and start making small size balls.
- Deep fry them at medium temperature. As they start turning golden brown shift them directly into the hot sugar syrup for 10 - 15 minutes.
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