Juicy gulab jamun

Indian sweets are so sweet. For this reason alone, they go down a storm with my family.

This traditional indian dessert is made mainly from milk solids. It is formed into a dough. Deep fried, then mixed into a sticky sugar syrup. These balls of love are a juicy, melt in the mouth, decadent treat.

Gulab jamun always intimidated me. They looked so uniform and round, and tasted so succulent!

Intimidation = challenge. I made gulab jamuns several times in the past, using a variety of different recipes, and had such a mix-bag of results. Too hard, too soft and soggy, not fluffy – generally NOT GOOD!

This recipe is the most straight forward road to heaven. The gulab jamuns turned out as close to perfect as I have ever come! Personally the trickiest part is the frying. Practice makes perfect!


  • 130g sugar
  • 625ml water
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • Saffron (optional)
  • Rose water (optional)


  • 130g unsweetened milk powder (Nido), or dry milk
  • 35g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 115ml milk
This mixture made about 22 gulab jamuns.


  1. Smash up the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar, and discard the beige shell.
  2. To make the syrup; put the water, sugar, and cardamom powder in a pan, and simmer over a medium heat.
  3. Keep simmering the water until it forms a syrup. To check it is at the right consistency, dip a spoon into the mix, and once it has cooled slightly, take some syrup between your finger and thumb. It should feel slightly sticky and form a thread when your fingers are pulled apart.
  4. Once the syrup is at the right consistency, turn the heat off, and chuck in a bit of saffron. You can add some rose water at this stage if you are using it. Leave the syrup to cool.
  5. To make the jamuns, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl – milk powder, flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt.
  6. Add in your tablespoon of butter (at room temperature) and white wine vinegar.
  7. Add the milk in small amounts, constantly mixing until it forms a sticky dough. You might not need the full amount of milk.
  8. Once you have a soft sticky dough, cover it and leave it for about 30 minutes to rest.
  9. The dough should now be less sticky, and easier to work with. If it is still too sticky – add a little flour. If it is too firm, add some milk. 
  10. Cover your hands with a light drizzle of oil, and knead the dough a few times.
  11. Dip your fingers in oil, and roll even pieces of dough into small balls.
  12. Heat enough oil to deep fry the balls on a medium-low heat. To test the temperature of the oil – drop in a small pinch of the dough. The dough should sink to the bottom, and then start to rise to the top. If it sits at the bottom without bubbling – your oil is not hot enough. If the dough rises and browns too quickly – your oil is too hot.
  13. Add a few of the jamun balls to the oil. Fry them on the medium-low heat, and keep turning the pesky things, so they brown evenly.
  14. When the jamuns are a nice dark golden brown colour – remove them from the heat using a slotted spoon and drain them on some kitchen paper.
  15. Repeat with all the dough, and let the jamuns cool slightly.
  16. Add the jamuns to the sugar syrup, and make sure they are evenly coated in syrup.

Let the jamuns soak up the sugary juice before serving them to your sweet toothed friends!

Slightly adapted from Veggie Belly – Thanks V!

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