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Back in Virginia, in the early 1990s, a group of batchmates from Virginia University catered food from an Indian restaurant during a farewell party. Along with traditional Indian food such as butter chicken and naan, desserts such as gulab jamun- syrup soaked deep fried milk balls were served. Those who were unfamiliar with what gulab jamun is, ate the popular Indian dessert with the savoury rice and curry.

Traditionally gulab jamun is made with freshly curdled milk, but at home it is made with something more accessible – dried milk powder. It is deep fried and soaked in saffron & rose flavoured sugar syrup and served with a sprinkling of slivered nuts and silver/gold paper to make it a luxury dessert.

There are two types of Gulab jamuns: regular and  kala jamun (which are darker in colour). The recipe here is for the regular jamun but Kala Jamuns can be made by adding 2 tsp sugar to the regular dough to give a caramalised colour when you fry the jamuns. You can stuff them with nuts too.

Time: Total of 40 minutes (20 minutes preparation +20 minutes to fry)                                    Serves: 4-5 persons


For the Jamuns:

1 cup instant Milk powder

1 tbsp Ghee or clarified butter

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tbsp Plain flour

1 whole egg

oil/ghee or mixture of both to deep fry the Jamuns


Ingredients for the Sugar syrup:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

½ tsp cardamom powder

A few strands of  good quality saffron

1 tsp rose-water

A drop of lemon or lime juice


Method to prepare the sugar syrup:

1.Add the sugar and water in a heavy bottom pan. Heat gently over a medium flame until the sugar melts and reach a single thread consistency (take a little syrup in a spoon and with your forefinger touch the syrup, gently slide your thumb over the forefinger.When you part your fingers it will feel sticky and you will see single thread of syrup).This is the stage that we need to soak the jamuns in.

2.Add the rest of the sugar syrup ingredients and mix well. Switch off the flame and keep the syrup warm.

Method for jamuns:

  1. In a mixing bowl add the milk powder, baking powder, plain flour, egg and ghee or oil. Gently mix to form a dough.

2.Make small balls and form into uniform size. Make sure that they are smooth without any cracks. Keep them covered.

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3.Heat ghee/oil or a mixture of both. It should not be very hot (if the oil is too hot the jamuns will brown faster and the inside will not be cooked)

4.With a wooden chopstick or a back of a wooden spoon swirl the oil and add the jamuns a few at a time. Fry until golden brown on low heat swirling with a spoon a few times.

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5.Transfer the jamuns immediately after frying to the warm syrup.

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Serve warm.


If you refrigerate this, warm the syrup prior to serving.


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