Garam Masala Tuesdays: Gulab Jamun from scratch!

by Shumaila

If you have been doing the rounds in the food blogosphere, I am sure you have come across Sinfully Spicy. And if you have come across Tanvi’s site, then I am sure you have stuck around and visited her blog again and again.

It was her Gulab Jamun picture on Foodgawker that had caught my attention the first time. And that’s what I will be sharing with you today on GMT.

In the past whenever I have made Gulab Jamuns, its been from a packet mix. Had I known they would be so easy to make from scratch, I would have never bought a packet.

Now, I am not a big fan of Indian sweets. Don’t mistake this statement to mean that I am not fond of sweets. I love sweets but am more inclined to the baked kinds. And since most Indian sweets are not baked, they have never made it very high up on my taste buds. But there are two Indian sweets that I would pick over any cake/chocolate and the likes.

One is Jalebi (and that too only the thin crispy kinds).

And, the other- Gulab Jamun, the quintessential Indian dessert!

It’s difficult to describe something that just melts in your mouth once bitten into, something which travels through your food pipe filling it with its warmth and leaving you with a kind of satisfaction that only really good food can give. And that is exactly how gulab jamuns make you feel. These soft pillows of syrup laden fried dough, that are a favorite of Indians all over, give you the kind of comfort that you feel when you are around family. No wonder they top my list of all-time fav desserts. And if you haven’t tried them yet, I have just one thing to say to you: you really are missing out on something!

So if you don’t want to miss out on these heavenly pieces of fried dough, try them out today! Tanvi’s recipe gives not only a quick and easy method to make them at home from scratch, but also result in really addictive Gulab jamuns.

Everyone at home loved them.

After my dad had 3 (!) Gulab Jamuns in one sitting, this is what he had to say.

He told us how while growing up, the Indian Government had come up with this food scheme where they would give big tins of milk powder to villages. Since there used to be tins and tins of milk powder and not much use in the day to day cooking of villagers, all the women in the villages would mix the milk powder with Khoya and make Gulab Jamuns. My father along with all his cousins and friends would devour them. The Gulab Jamuns I made today reminded him of those ones and that to me, is the biggest testimony to the success of a recipe.


Traditionally, Gulab jamuns are made with Khoya. But these days with market bought khoya you are unsure of it being adulterated. You can of course make Khoya at home, but that means a day long wait to make them. This recipe from Tanvi is a quick way to make Gulab Jamuns with excellent results. I doubled the recipe as there were many takers for these heavenly delights. On hindsight it was a good thing- I made them today and from an initial 40 plus jamuns, am left with only 10-12 in the refrigerator.

Makes about 20 Gulab Jamuns of the size shown


For the dough balls:

  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp fine crushed nuts (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
  • 3 tbsp ghee, should be melted and the cooled to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature (or as required for kneading)
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • Nuts for garnish (optional)

For the sugar syrup:

  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar ( I used a little less than the mentioned amount and found the syrup sweet enough)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Few saffron strands (optional)
  • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked open


For the Syrup

  1. In a large pot, add water, sugar along with cardamom pods and bring it to a boil. About 6-8 minutes on medium heat.
  2. Let the syrup simmer for a minute and then put off the stove. The syrup should still be a little liquidy and not too thick. If you follow the recipe and the time mentioned, you should get the perfect consistency for the syrup. After 5 minutes when the syrup has cooled down a bit, add saffron strands to the syrup.
  3. Set the syrup aside.

For the Jamuns

  1. In a bowl, sift together the milk powder, flour, baking powder, soda, green cardamom powder & nuts powder and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add the melted ghee to the mix and rub between hands so that the whole flour mix is moistened. Start adding milk and mixing simultaneously to make a soft dough. The dough will be quite sticky. Cover the bowl with a cloth & let the dough sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan/kadhai on medium heat. The frying pan should have enough oil to cover the balls completely while deep-frying. To test the oil temperature, immerse a small piece of dough in the oil. If it slowly rises up, the temperature is perfect for frying.
  4. While the oil is heating, with greasy palms pinch the dough into 18-20 equal parts and roll into small, smooth balls. As far as possible, roll out such that there are no cracks on the balls.This will give the jamuns a smooth look.The balls will double up after frying & soaking in syrup so do not make big balls. The bigger the balls, the more likely they are to cook completely from outside and remain uncooked on the inside. Line the balls on a plate & keep covered with a moist cloth till ready to fry.

  1. Meanwhile if your sugar syrup is cold or luke warm, put it on stove again so that it warms up.We want the sugar syrup warm (not hot) when the fried jamuns are tipped into it. Once warm , transfer the syrup to a bowl big enough to accommodate all the jamuns & keep them soaked. Also keep the sugar syrup nearby because the fried jamuns will go straight from frying pan into the syrup.
  2. Once the oil is hot, tip in the rolled jamuns into the oil. Do not over crowd the pan/kadhai. While frying keep flipping the balls gently for even browning all around. Fry until the jamuns become golden brown. About 4-6 minutes depending on size. Also make sure that between batches, the oil doesn’t become too cold- putting the balls in cold oil will result in the Jamuns to crack open.
  3. Once browned, using a strainer, transfer the jamuns straight to the warm sugar syrup.The jamuns should sit undisturbed in the hot syrup for at least 30 minutes before ready to serve.
  4. Once soaked, serve in bowl with few tablespoons of syrup & nuts garnish.I like them slightly warm.


  1. To make the nut mixture, I soaked 10-12 almonds in warm water. After about 15 minutes, I removed the skin and patted them dry with a paper towel. Once completely dry, I added the almonds, pista and 2-3 tbsp of flour in the grinder. The flour helps ensure that the nuts grind to a dry powder. I also added the cardamom seeds in it and ground all together into a fine powder.
  2. Traditionally, jamuns are fried in pure ghee. However, like Tanvi I add 2-3 tbsp of ghee to the oil to add the rich aroma. If you don’t have ghee, just use vegetable oil or canola oil, as you prefer.
  3. DO not overwork the dough. You just want to mix all the ingredients together till they combine to form a dough. It will be a sticky dough. A slightly wet dough will ensure smoother balls that won’t crack when you fry them.
  4. Do not fry the gulab jamuns too much or on very high heat. Keep the flame on medium heat. Frying them for long or on high heat will harden the jamuns & they won’t soak up the syrup.
  5. Gulab Jamuns can keep well in the fridge for up to 20 days.Whenver you want to serve, just microwave for 10-15 seconds.They can be frozen for 3-5 months.
  6. As a gift idea or for your own home, you could make a Gulab Jamun Mix with all the dry ingredients (flour, milk powder, nut mix, cardamom, baking powder/soda) together. When ready to make, just add a part of the mix with ghee and milk and proceed as mentioned above.