Friday, August 1, 2008

Gulab Jamun

I am a great fan of fried items and sweets. When we lived in Bhopal for around 8 years, we were introduced to a lot of North Indian snacks, sweets and food. Diwali, Dushera and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated with great pomp and show in Bhopal. There are huge jhankis or tableaux made for every festival. Many of these moving tableaux would depict various stories from Mahabharata, Ramayana and other mythological epics or social and current issues like Olympics, global warming an deforestation. As kids we were excited to go with our parents and tried to visit as many of them till late night. But it was definitely the burning of Ravana effigy that stole the show. Huge Ravana effigies would be erected during Dushera in every locality of the city, and it would be burnt on Vijaydashami to signify victory of Good over Evil. We would buy a lot of mithai or sweets from Manohar Dairy in Bhopal during festivals. Their "mixed dry fruit burfi" was out of the world. This dairy also served mouth watering north Indian snacks like chole bhatura and I have never had that tasty snacks and mithai anywhere else.
In Bhopal some areas areas are named numbers.. like "Saath Number", "Dus Number", "Gyrah Number" or Locality no.7, Locality no.10, Locality no.11. No idea why the the district planning department decided to name these areas with these"numbers". These areas also have a lot of shopping, restaurants and also house residents complexes. In Bhopal, there is a store called Chappan Bhog in "Dus Number", if I am not mistaken. This place would serve 56 items. Chappan Bhog was near my father's office and he would often get treats from there. Their unique chuda mixture with cashew nuts and raisins made an excellent snack. They also sold sweets like kaju katli or kaju barfi and gulab jamuns. The other day I was reminiscing old memories of Bhopal and chappan bhog gulab jamuns. So when our friends visited us for dinner last week I decided to make gulab jamuns for dessert. Here is the recipe.

1 cup milk powder
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoon ghee
milk or cream for kneading
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
oil for frying

Sugar Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 pinches saffron or rose essence
6-7 pods of cardamom


For the sugar syrup, dissolve the sugar in water and heat it on medium flame for 20 minutes. Add crushed cardamom and saffron and mix well. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
Sieve flour and baking powder. Mix well with milk powder. Add ghee to the mixture. Keep adding tablespoons of milk to the mixture and keep mixing. The final dough will not look like roti atta and it will be sticky. Apply ghee to your fingers and palms while you mix the milk and powders together. Make small balls out of the mixture and deep fry them in hot oil on all sides. I heated the oil and added the gulab jamun balls into the hot oil and then reduced heat when I turned then on the other side. I don't like to fry the jamuns if they look dark in color, but if you want darker color you can fry it till dark brown. Remove from heat and put the balls into the sugar syrup. Keep at least for 40 minutes in the fridge so that the gulab jamuns are chilled and have absorbed all the saffron and cardamom flavor.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Makes around 15-20 gulab jamuns