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Recipe: Gulab Jamun

While this recipe might initially sound challenging and complex, it is well worth the effort. A legendary delight of Indian cuisine, this is often a favorite of the Hare Krishna devotees. It is an explosion (literally) of flavor and sweetness, with a beautiful spongy texture. Many a Sunday love feast guest have had to be almost rolled home after these are served at the BLISS temple.


Gulab Jamuns

This is a recipe from the Matchless Gift Magazine. Each monthly issue includes a recipe from the Bliss kitchen. Get yourself a copy HERE!


Recipe: Gulab Jamun


Ingredients

Guests enjoy a brand new feast every Sunday at our South London temple
Guests enjoy a brand new feast every Sunday at our South London temple

Milk powder 2 cups

Milk accordingly

2 tsp ghee

Baking soda 1/2 tsp

Plain flour 1 cup

1 tsp cardamon powder, a large pinch saffron, a cap of rose water, a pod vanilla, or a similar measurement of any other sweet spice

Sugar 4 cups

Water accordingly

Salt a pinch


Method

Srila Prabhupada taking a sweet

  • To a large cooking vessel (a wok works best) add the milk powder. Make a paste by adding the milk gradually and mixing as you pour. Mixing while the mixture is very thick and pressing out the lumps with a spatula will help to ensure that there are no lumps in the final mix. The consistency should be like custard, or very thick milk. Now, add the ghee and mix. 


  • Put the wok on the flame and cook on a low heat for around 7 minutes, stirring constantly. It should come to the consistency of room temperature, soft butter. Let the mixture cool.


  • Take 4 cups of sugar in a cooking vessel. A more narrow vessel is recommended for this; you can use most ordinary kitchen pots. Add enough water to the mixture that the sugar is completely immersed. Cook it on a medium flame along with whatever spices you have chosen. Boil the syrup for just 4 minutes. In Indian confectionery, there are different “strings” which are used to measure the viscosity of a sugar syrup. Different string counts are used for different preparations. To test the string count, take a drop of syrup from the spoon after allowing it too cool down for a few seconds. Then press the drop in-between your index finger and thumb, and quickly open and close the the tip of the finger and thumb. The amount of strings of syrup between the finger and the thumb indicate the thickness, from 1-4, 4 being the thickest. In this case, we don’t want to see any strings. This is because the syrup should be more watery in order to soak all the way through the gulab jamun. Don’t worry; it’ll still be plenty sweet.


  • A note on spices: Traditionally, it is compulsory to use gulab jal, or rose water, to make gulab jamun. The name of this sweet is derived from the use of rose water. Most of the time, gulab jamun includes the flavors of saffron and cardamon. However, alternatively, you can use a combination of cardamon and kewra water (1 tsp powdered cardamon and 1 cap of kewra water), vanilla (a couple tsp of good quality essence, or the whole seeds of a pod if available), cinnamon and cloves ( a 4 inch stick and a tbsp of cloves), or just the juice of a lemon.


  • Now the mixture of powdered milk and milk will have cooled down. This mixture needs to be kneaded, pressing out any lumps. 


  • After the mixture has become smooth, you can sift in the plain flour and baking soda. Then, combine all these ingredients into a homogeneous dough. if it is a little dry, you can add milk. It should be a fairly soft, moist dough. 


  • Now, cover the dough with a slightly damp cloth. Taking small pieces at a time, roll the mixture into balls. You can grease your hands with a small amount of ghee to make this easier. The ball should as small as a gumball, or a little bigger than a large blueberry or raspberry. The bigger they are, the more chance they have of splitting while frying or soaking and handling. Make sure there are no large cracks or folds in the ball. It should be a smooth surface. Small scratches and indents are permissible and almost unavoidable. Take another slightly damp cloth and cover your rolled gulab dough balls.


  • In the wok (it should be cleaned), make a medium pool of ghee. The amount of ghee used depends on you, but it should be enough that the jamuns can float without touching the bottom of the vessel. More ghee makes the process easier, but is not required. Heat the ghee to 120ºc, or just keep it on a low flame. You can test if the ghee is the right temperature by dropping a piece of dough into it; of the dough floats after a few seconds, the ghee is the right temperature. 


  • Now carefully place the dough balls into the ghee. Be sure to not place so many that they will not fit into the ghee, as they should be all evenly colored. this will ensure even cooking and uniform appearance. 


  • If the balls start browning immediately, take them out with a spider (frying instrument) and turn down the heat, or turn it off. You can fry them once the temperature decreases a little, and keep the flame off, only turning it back on once they start to cease cooking. Temperature control is essential here. 


  • Once the balls turn slightly more than golden brown, they are done. The sugar syrup should still be warm. Check it’s consistency to make sure that it hasn't thickened up to a 1 string consistency. Now, place the freshly fried balls into the syrup. The balls must be hot in order to absorb the syrup completely. 


  • Let the balls soak in the syrup for a minimum of 30 minutes. They can be kept soaking for up to 5 hours for the best results. 


  • Offer this wonderful preparation to Krishna with love and devotion. 


  • Serve with a few gulabs to your friends and family with a pool of syrup and watch them enjoy to the fullest Krishna's divine prasadam.


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