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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.