As much as I love everyday stove-top cooking, the making of Indian sweets is one thing that scares me. My mom is famous in the family circuit for the beautiful 7-Cup Barfis, Badam Barfi, Coconut Barfi and Gajar Halwa that she turns out, among many other delectable desserts, but I have always shied away from these. The making of traditional, Indian sweet dishes is a task that daunts me to no end. On festival days or when we have guests over, I stick to making a simple fusion dessert or taking the safe way out with Sakkarai Pongal or Payasam. This is a barrier I had to break, and I did just that with this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe, recently.
My little daughter is a big fan of gulab jamun, just as everyone else in my family is. After all, who wouldn’t love these balls of bliss, soaked to perfection in sugar syrup? After beginning to conquer my fears with regards to baking, it made sense to start doing the same with a traditional Indian sweet that the bub loved – Gulab Jamun. So, one fine day last week, Amma and I stood side by side in my kitchen making gulab jamuns from scratch with khoya, she pouring out her years of expertise on the subject, me soaking it all in, taking mental notes and making the dessert under her watchful eye. The results were spectacular, I must say, and the gulab jamun went on to be devoured the very same day. The eating proved that this particular pudding was done just right.
That said, I am amazed at how much of that fear was all in my head. Making gulab jamuns from scratch was not at all the hugely difficult task I had thought it would be. It needs patience, yes, but it is also one of the easiest of Indian sweets to conquer. The tricks here are to be gentle with the mixing and do the frying right, and the rest automatically falls into place. I’m so very glad I did this, and hope my lucky stretch continues with the other, tougher Indian desserts that I plan to try out soon.
There are a few different ways to make gulab jamun, one of them being with khoya or mawa. Khoya refers to the milk solids that are left over after cooking milk on the stovetop for a long, long time. Considering how much of a time-consuming process the making of khoya is, we resorted to a store-bought version. A mix of maida and fine sooji has been used here to bind the jamuns, and you can use either.
Come, let me show you how to make gulab jamun with khoya, a la Amma. Here’s presenting the Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe!
Ingredients (makes about 22 small pieces):
- 200 grams khoya aka mawa
- 2 tablespoons fine sooji aka semolina or rava
- 2 tablespoons maida
- 1 tablespoon warm milk or as needed
- Oil as needed for deep-frying
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon rose essence (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1. Take the khoya in a large mixing bowl. Crumble it gently, using your hands. Alternatively, you may grate it.
2. Add the sooji and the maida to the mixing bowl. Mix together gently.
3. Add just enough warm milk as needed to bring the mixture to a dough-like consistency.
4. Heat oil as needed for deep frying, in a pan. Meanwhile, keep the dough covered.
5. Simultaneously, take the water in another pan, add the sugar to it, and place on high flame. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the water. Cook on medium heat till the sugar syrup attains half-thread consistency or till it thickens a little. Switch off gas. Add the rose essence (if using) and cardamom powder to the syrup. Mix well. The syrup for soaking the gulab jamuns is ready. Keep aside.
6. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce flame to medium. Greasing your palms with a little oil, make small balls out of the dough we prepared earlier. Deep fry these balls in the hot oil till brown on the outside, about four at a time, taking care not to burn them.
7. As soon as one batch of the balls are fried and ready, drop them into the sugar syrup. Let them sit undisturbed and soak in the syrup. Continue till all the balls are soaked in syrup.
8. Serve the gulab jamun hot or after allowing them to soak for a few hours. Store the unused ones at room temperature, in a clean, dry, air-tight box.
1. Make sure the khoya is at room temperature when you begin to make the gulab jamun.
2. Use great-quality khoya from a known source, for best results. I used Milky Mist khoya, which is entirely made using milk solids, with no added flavouring agents or preservatives.
3. Make sure you prepare the ‘dough’ for the gulab jamun using very gentle hands. Gather the ingredients together, using gentle, light movements, rather than kneading them together. This is imperative for getting soft, melt-in-the-mouth gulab jamuns.
4. I have used a mix of fine sooji (aka semolina or rava) and maida in this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe. You can skip either of these ingredients – just increase the quantity of the other ingredient you are using, in that case.
5. Make sure you fry the gulab jamuns at medium heat. This will help them get evenly cooked, on the inside and the outside. Cooking them on high heat will turn them brown on the outside, but keep them raw inside.
6. You can fry the gulab jamuns in ghee instead of oil. I have used ordinary refined oil here.
7. Do not crowd the pan, while frying the gulab jamun. Fry them in batches, a few at a time. Drop them in the sugar syrup immediately.
8. Make sure the gulab jamuns are not crowded while they are soaking in the syrup. Use a large pan to soak them.
9. Do not overcook the sugar syrup. Stop cooking when the syrup is slightly thick or has attained half-thread consistency.
10. You can skip using the rose essence in the syrup. Real rose petals can be added instead – make sure you use clean, organic, sweet-smelling flowers in that case.
11. Use warm – not hot – milk to bind the ingredients for the gulab jamun. Make sure you use just as much as needed. The dough should be just right to roll into balls and not too sticky or watery.
12. In case the dough gets a bit sticky, you can use a little more fine sooji or maida to adjust it.
13. Use only fine sooji in the Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe, if you are using it at all. Do not use the larger, grainier variety.
14. I have kept the gulab jamun small here, but you could make them bigger as well. Remember that they increase in size further on soaking.
I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, a group of us food bloggers get together and share recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The theme this Monday is #EidWithFoodies, wherein we are all presenting dishes for the festival of Eid that is just around the corner. I thought this Mawa Gulab Jamun recipe was just perfect for the season.
I’m also sharing this post with Fiesta Friday #278.