Gulab jamun are a pretty fantastic snack.  The last time I tried to make these (a bit over two years ago), they didn’t turn out so well (just a soft mess of soaked dough), but I think this time I’ve got them figured out pretty well.  The balls look a bit overdone, but trust me, they’re not burned.  I’ve seen these in both Jewish and Indian restaurants, but this is the first time I’ve actually been able to get something close to what I’ve had at home.

Gulab Jamun
Makes about 15 to 20 balls, depending on size



  • 1 c nonfat dry milk powder
  • .25 c flour
  • .25 t baking soda
  • 3 T butter, melted and cooled (you could also probably use browned butter)
  • .25 c milk
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • 2 c dark brown sugar (you can also use white or light brown)
  • 2 c water
  • ground cardamom to taste
  • (optional: rose water, if you have it on hand)

To make your dough, mix the dry ingredients together, and then add the melted cooled butter, mixing together until the dough is crumbly (see picture one). Slowly pour the milk over the crumbs, and then mix together until the dough just barely comes together. Knead briefly until the dough is smooth (whoops, forgot this bit. Still worked, though). Divide the dough into equal, ping pong sized balls (you’ll get about 15 to 20 out of the dough).

Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a pot over medium high. You’ll know it’s ready when you put in a small bit of dough and it starts to easily fry.  Add your dough balls and turn frequently, until they’re golden brown (usually takes about four minutes). Fish them out with a mesh strainer to drain most of the oil off the balls, and then let them rest in a small bowl to cool.  (I couldn’t quite get them out of the oil easily, so mine were a bit on the darker side, but not burned.)

To make the syrup, mix the water and sugar together over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened.  (The original recipe recommends heating until a candy thermometer registers 225, but I don’t have one. The best you can do if you don’t is eye it.)

Stir the cardamom in once the syrup has thickened, and keep it at the simmer. Add the balls in, and let them soak until they’re soft and moist. They will swell as they soak; mine almost doubled in size. (insert jokes here.)  Remove them with a spoon and then let them cool.  

If not eating immediately, pour a small amount of syrup in with the balls in the container, and save the rest separately. 


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