If you’ve never tasted this Indian dessert before, allow me to introduce you to (arguably) thee most delicious Indian sweet you will ever sink your teeth into. These pillow-y balls of sweetness are fragrant with the unmistakable aroma of saffron and boast a gorgeous golden colour with a soft white interior. The texture inside is cake-like. Imagine, if you will, cake balls which are made from milk, butter and flour then deep fried until they are soft and fluffy. Their sweetness is derived from the sugar syrup in which they sit, slowly soaking up simple syrup which is beautifully infused with fragrant saffron.
This dessert is popular in countries of the Indian subcontinent which includes India, Pakistan and Nepal. The name of the dessert is derived from the Persian word ‘gulab’ which means flower and the Indian word ‘jamun’ which is a fruit which is similar in size and shape. Indian desserts are often given the reputation of being tedious, technical and even fussy. Truth be told, most Indian desserts are somewhat difficult to prepare because they so closely rely on carefully calculated temperatures, exact textures to indicate doneness and require constant stirring and monitoring. To nip that problem in the bud, I’ve provided step-by-step instructions and photos to walk you carefully through this process of creating these sweet little balls of goodness.
If you’ve tasted gulab jamuns in the past and haven’t developed a taste for them, I can safely assure you that you have not lived until you have tried this recipe for gulab jamuns. It’s a recipe that has been developed and perfected by my mum over the years and will, no doubt, blow any gulab jamun you have ever tasted right out of the water. A friend of mine who hated (yes, ‘hated’) gulab jamuns (presumably because she has had too many bad gulab jamuns in her life to develop any love for them) tasted these at my urging after turning her nose up at them. Needless to say, she ate her fair share of these after tasting one and has rekindled her relationship with these addictive little sweets.
These are traditional dessert fare at Indian weddings and I hate to admit it but I, too, have tasted too many bad gulab jamuns to count (you know the small unattractive ones you get at weddings that are swimming in obscene amounts of syrup, are overly sweet, largely tasteless and almost inedible?). I’m willing to bet that at some time or another your own experience with these sweets was marred by a poorly prepared gulab jamun that met its fate at your fork.
Even my husband has developed an unrelenting fondness of these (despite his general distaste for Indian sweets) and is now known to enjoy an entire gulab jamun in one bite — no utensils needed — before returning for another (and another) before he is satisfied. Try these and I assure you that you’ll be shamelessly indulging in them too!