How to make Gulab Jamun

If koeksisters had indian cousins, Gulab Jamun would be them. These delightful deep-fried dough balls are something of a cross between the traditional South African plaited treat and a dense doughnut. And are sneakily delicious.

What’s that you say? You want to make them? What a great idea.

What you’ll need

4 litres full cream milk
1/2 kg maida (all purpose flour)
1 tbsp curd (plain yogurt)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups ghee (clarified butter)
2 cups of sugar
1 cup water
1/2 lemon

Making the dough

In a wide mouthed heavy bottom pan add the milk and heat over a medium heat. Reduce the milk for 3-4 hours till the milk solidifies and becomes thick. Whip together yogurt and baking soda. Add the flour and yogurt mixture to the milk (khova) and knead till it forms a pliant dough. Make little balls (3cm diameter) and set aside.

Deep frying & sugar syrup soaking

Slip the balls into the hot ghee from the side of the pan, one by one. They will sink to the bottom of the pan, gently shake the pan to keep the balls from browning on just one side. After about 5 mins, the gulab jamuns should rise slowly to the top, after which they need to be gently and constantly agitated to ensure even browning on all sides.

The balls must be fried very slowly at a medium temperature to ensure complete cooking from inside and even browning. If the temperature of the oil is too high then the gulab jamuns will tend to break.

The syrup should be made earlier and kept warm. To make the sugar syrup mix the 2 cups of sugar into the 1 cup of water and warm it at a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until sugar is all dissolved in water. Do not overheat as it will caramelize the sugar.

Transfer this hot syrup into a flat serving dish and keep warm on the stove. Add the fried gulab jamuns directly into the warm syrup and then soak overnight for best results. They can be served warm or at room temperature.

Ayoba. If you are keen to try some more of the traditional indian sweetmeats made during Diwali, check out these recipes for Jalebi and DoodhPak.

Recipe and photos from