Melt-in-your-Mouth Gulab Jamun

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Gulab Jamun is India’s most beloved dessert. Popular at many Indian restaurants this soft, melt-in-your-mouth sweet can easily be made from the comfort of your home.  

A clear bowl filled with gulab jamun balls on a dark counter with three yellow bowls in the top right.
Gulab Jamun with Milk Powder

If I have one regret when it comes to Gulab Jamun, it’s that I waited way too long before trying to make them at home.

Now that I have perfected the recipe, I hope to prevent you from making this same mistake and equip with everything you need to make the most delightful gulab jamuns. 

Gulab Jamun recipe – a brief history

Also referred to as gulab jam, gulaab jamun,  gulab jamun is a round-shaped, milk-based sweet with a tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

This traditional Indian dessert is fried till it turns golden brown before being soaked in sugar syrup to absorb all the sweetness. 

For those who care about a little history – The word “gulab” means Rose, referring to the rose water-scented syrup, and “Jamun” or “jaman” is the Hindi word for an Indian fruit with a similar size and shape.

How to make gulab jamun

Ingredient notes

Indian buffets worldwide would be incomplete without Gulab Jamun – a dessert made traditionally from khoya.

Khoya is prepared by heating milk over a low flame until most of the water content is evaporated. This process takes a little over 2 hours.

That’s why I use milk powder instead of khoya so that you can make this recipe in 1/4th the time. Other ingredients in this recipe include flour, ghee, yogurt, and baking soda. 

In fact, most store-bought gulab jamun mix like Gits use milk powder as their key ingredient. With this recipe, you can make your own gulab jamun powder at home :-).

Step by Step Instructions

Making homemade gulab jamun involves three steps, making the sugar syrup, making the dough balls, frying the dough, and soaking them in sugar syrup.

Make the sugar syrup

Note: Start making the dough as the sugar syrup is being cooked. Check the sugar syrup at the 10-minute mark for one string consistency.

  1. Heat a deep medium-sized saucepan on a gas stove. Add sugar, water, rose essence (if using), and cardamom powder (if using) to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. After it boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until one string consistency is achieved. To test one-string consistency, place a droplet of sugar syrup on your thumb and press your index finger on it and then pull them apart – a string of sugar syrup should connect the two.
  3. Once one-string consistency is achieved, reduce heat to a simmer.
One string consistency of sugar being demonstrated by placing sugar syrup between two fingers
Testing one string consistency

Make the balls from the dough

  1. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine milk powder, all-purpose flour, ghee, yogurt, and baking soda to make a soft dough.
  2. Knead the dough till it is non-sticky and soft to touch. The dough needs to be free of cracks, or it will disintegrate in the syrup mixture. Add a little ghee or clarified butter to the dough as needed to keep the dough soft. If the dough is sticky, add a few teaspoons of flour and knead again.
  3. Next, divide the dough into the desired size while ensuring they do not have cracks or creases. Keep in mind the balls will double in size when they soak in the sugar syrup. 

Deep fry the balls

  1. In a deep dish pan, pour enough oil to completely immerse the gulab jamuns for deep frying. Heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is thoroughly heated, reduce the heat to medium-low and add one gulab jamun to the pan to test if the oil is ready. If it slowly rises to the surface, the oil is ready for frying. If the gulab jamun rises too fast, the oil is too hot. Reduce the heat before you proceed. 
  3. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, add 5-6 gulab jamuns to the oil
  4. Stir them continuously with a slotted spoon until they achieve a consistent golden brown color.
  5. Drain the oil as you remove the gulab jamuns. Transfer to the sugar syrup which should be still hot. Cook the remaining batch and add them to the sugar syrup as well. Take the sugar syrup off heat.
  6. Cover and allow the fried dough balls to absorb the syrup for roughly 1.5 to 2 hours or until they double in size and soak up the sugar syrup.
  7. Serve warm and refrigerate the leftovers.

Tips for perfect gulab jamun

Even if you are using a Gits mix to make these gulab jamuns, these tips will apply. The three things that you need to take care of to get the ‘soft melt in your mouth’ Gulab Jamuns are:

  1. Dough softness – To get soft Gulab Jamuns, the dough needs to be really soft. Using a little ghee or clarified butter (as needed) during the kneading process, helps achieve that. Also, when you make the balls make sure there are no cracks, or else they will disintegrate when you add them to the sugar syrup.
  2. One string consistency – The sugar syrup needs patience and time. Don’t rush it. It will take about 15 minutes. You can use that time to prepare the dough while keeping an eye on the syrup to make sure it doesn’t thicken. Start checking around the 10-minute mark for one-string consistency.
  3. Oil temperature –  The oil needs to be kept at medium-low. If the oil is too hot, then the outer layer will cook faster leaving behind an uncooked center. When you drop the balls in the oil, it should slowly rise to the surface. If it rises quickly, that means the oil is too hot and if it doesn’t rise at all and stays at the bottom, you need to increase the heat.
  4. Milk Powder – The milk powder must be fine to get a smooth texture. For the ones living in the US, do NOT get the store brand. Buy Bob’s Red Mill Milk Powder. They are far superior in taste and have the fine texture that is required for this recipe. If you don’t live in the US, I think the Nestle Brand of milk powder should work as well as it is a fine powder.
A glass bowl of milk powder gulab jamun balls on a dark counter with a hand in front holding a gulab jamun.
Milk Powder Gulab Jamun

Frequently asked questions

What does Gulab Jamun taste like?

These round, milk-based sweets soak in sugar syrup. To say they taste sweet would be an understatement. As they melt in your mouth you are hit with the sweet flavor of milk and sugar and a hint of the rose and cardamom in the sugar syrup. 

Is Gulab Jamun healthy?

No. This Indian dessert is a sweet treat meant to be eaten as an indulgence. As with most other desserts, gulab jamun should be enjoyed in moderation. 

What to do with leftover sugar syrup

Don’t throw it away. Strain it and use it sweeten other recipes such as coconut barfi, double ka meetha, rice kheer, etc. You can use it as sweeteners in most Indian dessert recipes.

Got leftover gulab jamun? Make these recipes

  1. Gulab jamun shrikhand jars – layers of cookie crumbs, thick & creamy shrikhand and topped with gulab jamun!
  2. No-bake gulab jamun cheesecake – An Indian inspired fusion cheesecake flavored with flavors like rose, cardamom, saffron and topped with assorted Indian sweets (mithai).


Got a new Instant Pot? Check out the links below to make the most of your pressure cooker -  
A hand holding a ball of gulab jamun over a glass bowl filled with gulab jamun balls.

Gulab Jamun

4.43 from 7 votes
India's most beloved dessert and a favorite at Indian buffets! Here's an easy and fail-proof recipe to make these melt-in-the-mouth Gulab Jamun at home.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 15 -16 Gulab Jamuns
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Dessert
Method: Stovetop
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
  

For the sugar syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder, optional
  • ½ teaspoon rose water / essence, optional

For the Gulab Jamuns

Instructions
 

Making sugar syrup

  • On a gas stove, place a deep medium-sized saucepan on medium heat, add sugar, water, rose essence (if using) and cardamom powder (if using) and bring this mixture to a boil.
  • Note: Start making the dough as the sugar syrup is being cooked. Check the sugar syrup at the 10-minute mark for one string consistency.
  • Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until one string consistency is achieved. To test one string consistency, place a droplet of sugar syrup on your thumb and press your index finger on it and then pull them apart – a string of sugar syrup should connect the two.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer.

Make balls from the dough

  • Meanwhile, combine milk powder, all-purpose flour, ghee, yogurt, and baking soda to make a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough till it is non-sticky and soft to touch. The dough needs to be very soft, or it will disintegrate in the syrup mixture. Add a little ghee or clarified butter to the dough as needed to keep the dough soft. If the dough is sticky, add a few teaspoons of flour and knead again.
  • Let it rest for 5 minutes and then make balls of the desired size while ensuring that the balls do not have any cracks or creases.[Note: The balls double in size when added to the sugar syrup]

Deep frying the balls

  • Heat oil in a deep dish pan on medium heat. (Note: This oil will be used for deep frying the gulab jamuns so make sure you are using enough oil to completely immerse them).
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add one gulab jamun to the oil and if it slowly rises to the surface, then your oil is ready. If it rises too fast, then your oil is too hot, so reduce the heat before you proceed (see tips).
  • Once you think you have achieved the right temperature of the oil, add 5-6 Gulab jamuns to the oil. They increase in size when they are deep-fried so make sure not to overcrowd them.
  • Continuously stir them using a slotted spoon till they achieve a consistent golden brown color.
  • Carefully remove the gulab jamuns from the wok making sure all the oil is drained.
  • Transfer them to the sugar syrup which should be still hot. Cook the remaining batch and add them to the sugar syrup as well. Take the sugar syrup off heat.
  • Cover and let the gulab jamuns absorb the syrup for 1.5 – 2 hours till they have doubled in size and have soaked up the sugar syrup.
  • Serve warm and refrigerate the leftovers.
  • Serving suggestion – Gulab jamuns taste great with vanilla ice cream.

Notes

I have included the nutritional info for Gulab Jamun from Nutritionix as an example and I can’t vouch for its accuracy since I am not a nutritionist or dietician. For a home cook, it is difficult to calculate the nutritional info for deep-fried foods.
Even if you are using a Gits mix to make these gulab jamuns, these tips will apply. The three things that you need to take care of to get the ‘soft melt in your mouth’ Gulab Jamuns are:
  1. Dough softness – To get soft gulab jamuns, the dough needs to be really soft. Using a little ghee or clarified butter (as needed) during the kneading process, helps achieve that. Also, when you make the balls make sure there are no cracks, or else they will disintegrate when you add them to the sugar syrup.
  2. One string consistency – The sugar syrup needs patience and time. Don’t rush it. It will take about 15 minutes. You can use that time to prepare the dough while keeping an eye on the syrup to make sure it doesn’t thicken. Start checking around the 10-minute mark for one-string consistency.
  3. Oil temperature –  The oil needs to be kept at medium-low. If the oil is too hot, then the outer layer will cook faster leaving behind an uncooked center. When you drop the balls in the oil, it should slowly rise to the surface. If it rises quickly, that means the oil is too hot and if it doesn’t rise at all and stays at the bottom, you need to increase the heat.
  4. Milk Powder – The milk powder must be fine to get a smooth texture. For the ones living in the US, do NOT get the store brand. Buy Bob’s Red Mill Milk Powder. They are far superior in taste and have the fine texture that is required for this recipe. If you don’t live in the US, I think the Nestle Brand of milk powder should work as well as it is a fine powder.

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Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gulab jamunCalories: 149kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1.9gFat: 7.3gSaturated Fat: 1.5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 5.5mgSodium: 44mgPotassium: 88mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 18gCalcium: 70mgIron: 0.2mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Did you make this recipe?Take a photo and tag @simmertoslimmer on Instagram for a shoutout!
Keyword : milk-powder, soft, spongy

This recipe was first published on November 8, 2015, and has been updated with updated text and instructions on December 01, 2020

Gulab Jamun served in a steel bowl
Mouth-watering Gulab Jamun

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