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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Dry Gulab Jamun

So far in the series,
Malaadu / Hurigadale Unde

Gulab jamun needs no introduction if one is even remotely acquainted with the Indian cuisine since it happens to be one of the popular sweets among the Indian diaspora. The dumplings made with khoya / milk powder are deep fried and then soaked in rose flavored sugar syrup, ending up being a delectable treat. It is hard to stop with just one, when these soft pillowy balls are melting in one's mouth. The chances of encountering gulab jamuns or gajar ka halwa / carrot halwa in Indian restautants' buffets is higher here locally in US.
I don't rely on instant mixes much but there a few exceptions which work well for me. A gulab jamun mix, for instance falls under that category and that is what I have used here. My husband loves gulab jamun and so these instant mix packets come home without any prompts. If you are a south Indian and especially if you are not into blogging / cooking shows, chances are more that you would dump an instant packet of gulab jamun mix like the one pictured below into your shopping cart than khoya / milk powder. 
Thanks to the instant mix,  gulab jamun was considered one of the easiest sweets to learn along with kesari bhath aka the orange hued semolina halwa, while we were growing up. We used to have a brand called 'orkay' in the Bangalore region when I was a kid. I saw one instant mix packet lying in my pantry recently and so thought of preparing kala jamun but ended up making dry version jamuns instead for this marathon. The instant mixes are made with dry milk powder and one can use their favorite gulab jamun recipe instead in this recipe.
'Gulab' means rose and this treat derives it's name from the flavoring used in it's preparation, the gulab jal aka rose water. The funny thing is that south Indians rarely add gulab jal and do away with cardamom which is the predominant flavoring agent used in the region. Gulab jamuns are prepared the usual way here but after a small period of soaking, they are removed from the syrup and rolled in sugar or desiccated coconut to make them extra special. Kala Jamuns can be used as well to make dry jamuns but I prefer the regular ones. The dry or sukha jamuns taste super yum too and are not really dry in that sense. They are called so since they are not swimming in the sugar syrup as the regular gulab jamuns. These can be made ahead and so, they make a great treat for birthdays, parties and festivals like Diwali which is coming up soon.

Ingredients for dry gulab jamun: (Yield about 15 jamuns)
For jamun balls:
1 instant gulab jamun mix (100 grams)
2.5 to 3 tbsp. water
Oil to deep fry
For sugar syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp. rosewater
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
For coating:
Desiccated coconut or sugar

* Dump the contents of the pack into a bowl and break any lumps present by rubbing between your fingers.
* Add water in small increments and prepare the dough according to the package directions. Don't try to knead the dough, cover the bowl and keep it aside for 10 to 15 minutes. (I forgot to take the picture of the final dough ball.) If the dough appears wet, add a tiny amount of all purpose flour to fix it. One can even add milk to prepare the dough but there is no need since the instant mix is made with milk powder.

* Meanwhile add sugar and water to a cooking pan and heat it. 

* Stir in between until the sugar melts. At this stage, 1/4 tsp. lime juice can be added to prevent sugar from crystallizing. I usually don't since I never had the experience of  my sugar getting crystallized. 

* Continue to cook until the sugar solutions looks slightly thicker and sticky. The color of the syrup changes to honey hued. There is no need to form a syrup with any consistency. If not sure, just blindly cook the sugar mixture on low for about 12 to 15 minutes after the sugar has melted. Add rose water and ground cardamom to the sugar syrup and turn off the stove.

* If the dough appears too dry after the resting period, add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. water and work the dough. Make 15 to 20 balls out of the dough prepared earlier by gently rubbing between your palms. Take care the balls are made without cracks. The jamuns tend to open up at those cracks while frying if the dough balls have cracks. 
* Heat oil in a pan for deep frying but don't bring it to a smoking hot point. Put a tiny pinch of dough ball into the oil to test whether the oil is hot enough for frying. If the dough ball comes to the surface immediately, the oil is ready. If the dough ball stays under, the oil needs to be heated a little more. Gently slide the dough balls one after another from the sides of the pan taking care not to get burnt. Keep gently rolling the balls and ladling some hot oil over the balls. Fry them on low-medium heat until they turn golden brown through out. If cooked on high flame, they quickly brown outside but the center portions remain uncooked. 
* Gently lift them through a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible and immediately drop them in the warm / hot sugar syrup prepared. Soak them for about an hour or two, ladling syrup over the tops in between or gently rolling them using the handle of the pan so that all sides are soaked in the syrup uniformly. Stop at this step if you need to make gulab jamuns. 
* Strain the gulab jamuns once they cool down and gently roll them in desiccated coconut or sugar. 

1. I usually fry this much quantity of jamuns at the same time in a wide pan but they can be fried in batches if preparing in large quantity or using a small pan. The first fried batch should be added to the hot syrup immediately.
2. One can use their gulab jamun recipe instead of using the instant mix.
3. The leftover sugar syrup can be used in one's coffee / tea / milkshake or other sweet preparations like kheer, halwa or shahi tukdas.
4. I have coarsely pulsed the coconut in my food processor but if preferred, it can be done finely too.
5. The package directions doesn't mention to rest the dough but I do it anyway out of habit. 

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Harini R said...

This is a fantastic idea. I anyway end up not consuming the syrup so I might as well make these dry jamuns and enjoy. Thanks for the idea.

Vaishali Sabnani said...

I love the idea of dry jamun..it shall make you less guilty. Seriously these gulab jamuns will disappear so fast. great pick.

Kalyani said...

Suma - I coulnt help but step in and comment when I read “orkay” brand of gulab jamun in this post. Made me so nostalgic as it had the best quality instant mix and so many memories of making this dry and wet versions of gulab jamun using that mix :) these dried version looks very delicious ..

Srivalli said...

As you said kesari bath and gulab jamun are the most frequently made sweets in the south indian families. Infact my mom has the tradition of making gulab jamuns for all birthdays. Still we never tire of this sweet. Your dry version looks awesome Suma. Though I love tucking in few spoons of syrup along with my jamun hehehe..

Narmadha said...

you are correct. Though we make from scratch, instant mixes helps us in busy times. mouthwatering and pics are tempting so much. Good tips to use sugar syrup

sushma said...

Even I use Gits gulab jamun mix, it is so handy. Love the dry version ofgulab jamun you made, looks amazing.

Padmajha said...

Carrot halwa and gulab jamun are definitely more famous than most of the other Indian desserts. My kids love gulab jamun and like you said one of the easiest to prepare so I too opt for ready mixes. The dry jamun looks very delicious Suma.

Amara’s cooking said...

That's an amazing idea Suma, we too don't consume most of the syrup so I should definitely try dry jamun next time. Coconut topping looks sinful.

Cook with me said...

Looks amazing 👌👌