Gulab_Jamun

The Sweet History of the Gulab Jamun

We’re Jamun, We’re Jamun. I hope you like Jamun too!

One of the sweetest dishes South Asian cuisine has to offer is undoubtedly the Gulab Jamun! Made from the perfect concoction of floury, milky, sugary, syrupy and nutty ingredients, the Gulab Jaun packs a powerful punch that rounds off any meal perfectly.

These rose scented syrupy spheres of joy are particularly popular in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and now, it would be difficult to find an South Asian restaurant in the UK which doesn’t have this desert on their menu.

Read on to learn the history of the Gulab Jamun and how to make the perfect batch yourself!

The Gulab Jamun Origin Story

“Gulab” is derived from the Persian word gol (flower) and ab (water) whilst “Jamun” is the Hindi/Urdu word for Syzygium cumini, a fruit also known as the Java plum which is a similar size and shape to the Gulab Jamun.

Believe it or not, the first Gulab Jamuns were prepared in medieval India and is the descendant of a fritter. According to the culinary historian Michael Krondl, the dish may have derived from a Persian dish which was improperly prepared by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s personal chef.

The Perfect Gulab Jamun Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 130g dried milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125ml warm milk
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom
  • 1 litre vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon chopped almonds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachio nuts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas (optional)

Steps:

  • First of all, get yourself a large bowl and mix together the flour, baking powder, dried milk power and cardamom
  • Stir in the chopped almonds, chopped pistachio nuts and sultanas (all of which are optional)
  • Add the ghee and mix well with the warm milk
  • When well blended, cover the dough and let the mix rest for 20 mins
  • For the syrup, in a large frying pan, mix and stir the sugar, water, rose water and a pinch of cardamom. Simmer for 1 minute then set this mix aside as well
  • Get a large frying pan and fill it hallway up with oil and heat for 5 minutes over a medium flame
  • Knead the dough and create 20 small balls
  • Then, on a low heat, fry the balls (10 at a time)
  • After a few minutes the Jamun will expand twice their size and begin to float. At this point, increase the heat to medium and turn them frequently until they turn golden brown.
  • Remove the Jamun from the oil, allow them to cool slightly and then drain them using a kitchen towel.
  • Place all of the Jamun onto a pan with the syrup and simmer over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Squeeze them sporadically so the Jamun can soak up as much of the syrup as possible.
  • Serve immediately or allow to cool then chill.

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