• November 12, 2015

    Soft Gulab Jamun

    0 0 vote
    Article Rating
    Is there anything better than soft, homemade Gulab Jamun? Today, I’m sharing my tested-till-perfected Gulab Jamun Recipe – an Indian dessert made with milk powder, soaked in cardamom syrup.  If you’re coming here as a “Gulab Jam” aficionado, these ones are the softest.
    gulab jamun cake
    gulab jamun recipe | www.foodess.com

    With my in-laws in town, we are celebrating the Indian holiday Diwali today.  We spent the day together in the bright, cold November sunshine, wrapped in wooly scarves and chunky, hand-knit hats.

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist sneaking some pics of my little peanut, all bundled up and adorable.

    When we were tired and hungry, we drove to a hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant and devoured piping hot samosas and pakoras in the car. Tonight we’ll light small oil lanterns and place them in the window.

    And because it’s a food-centric holiday filled with traditional sweets, I spent two days obsessively working on this gulab jamun recipe.

    gulab jamun dough being formed
    gulab jamun recipe | www.foodess.com

    During the arduous process of developing this recipe, I made no fewer than five variations.

    It kept me awake at night.

    gulab jamun being fried on a stovetop
    gulab jamun recipe | www.foodess.com

    How To Make Gulab Jamun

    The thing about Gulab Jamun is that they aren’t particularly difficult to make, but they are difficult to make perfectly.

    The base is milk powder and a bit of flour with milk added to form a soft sticky dough that is fried and then dunked in hot, cardamom-infused syrup. (Seriously, you’re sold, right??!)

    The question that everyone who makes them at home asks.  If you’ve ever had them at a restaurant, you know that good gulab jamun are super soft and spongy, allowing them to soak up the syrup deeply.

    The important keys to getting them perfect in your own kitchen, I found, are as follows:

    • a light hand, a really loose, sticky batter and
    • a moderate oil temperature so that the dough cooks all the way to the middle without getting too brown on the outside

    The first dough picture you see above was an earlier trial – it was too heavy, and while it made perfect, plump little balls, they weren’t tender.

    The consistency below, which is like a waffle batter, is too loose to be shaped by hand, but dropped into the hot oil, it makes the lightest, spongiest, softest gulab jamun you can achieve at home. (As you can see from the picture of the saucepan above, they aren’t smooth spheres but still puffed and lovely in their imperfection.)

    gulab jamun batter
    gulab jamun recipe | www.foodess.com

    You can use less milk if you prefer to shape them by hand, as is traditionally done – just start with about 5 tablespoons of milk and oil your hands to shape them. But they won’t be as tender.

    Keep in mind that the dough gets drier and heavier as it sits, and if they are heavy before cooking, they will be tough after cooking.

    As with pancakes, muffins, etc. you should stir gently and only until ingredients just combined.  If you work the dough too much, it will be tough.

    Happy Diwali to my Indian readers!

    More Indian Recipes

    Best-Ever Butter Chicken

    Easy “Shortcut” Samosas

    Coconut Curried Lentils

    Butter Paneer Masala

    Homemade Malai Kofta


    Gulab Jamun Recipe

    Gulab jamun are a favourite Indian dessert - they're like super-soft donut holes made with powdered milk and soaked in cardamom syrup.
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Total Time: 30 minutes
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: Indian
    Servings: 10 gulab jamun
    Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


    For cardamom syrup:

    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 10 cardamom pods

    For gulab jamun

    • 1 cup skim or full-cream milk powder
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tbsp butter softened
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • oil for frying


    • To make the cardamom syrup, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Crush cardamom pods by pressing on them with the flat side of a chef's knife, and add them to the saucepan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, then boil for one minute and turn off the heat.
    • In a medium bowl, stir together milk powder, flour and baking powder. Add butter and use your fingers to work it into the dry mixture until well incorporated. Add milk, using a very light hand, stir until just combined.  Let mixture stand 10-15 minutes (it will thicken up).
    • Meanwhile, heat oil in a shallow saucepan to a depth of 1" over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add a drop of batter to the oil to test to see if it is the right temperature - if it sizzles but doesn't immediately change colour, it's ready.  If it floats and starts to brown immediately, it's too hot (remove from burner for a minute and reduce the heat; test again before proceeding).  If it sinks and doesn't sizzle, it is not hot enough.
    • Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil, cooking about 5 at a time. Using a slotted spoon, turn gulab jamun frequently until well browned and doubled in size, 4-6 minutes.  Remove gulab jamun as they are reading, letting excess oil drip back into saucepan. Add immediately to syrup.  Let stand in syrup until ready to serve.  Repeat with remaining dough.
    • Best served warm (you can rewarm them gently over low heat in the syrup).
    Tried this recipe?tag @foodess
    0 0 vote
    Article Rating

    Hi, I'm Jennifer Pallian, BSc, RD. I studied cooking, baking and food chemistry in a university lab, have years of experience as a professional test kitchen recipe developer and providing technical baking support to bakeries and home bakers. Want to know why your bread didn't rise? I've got your back.I now work full-time as a blogger, putting the years of science and baking to work right here. On Foodess, I share the best recipes in my arsenal - tested-till-PERFECT recipes for cozy baking, easy recipes for weeknight meals and delicious globally-inspired comfort food, plus lots of science-based cooking and baking tips. Welcome!

    Notify of
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments


    Thanks for signing up! Check your inbox to confirm.
    Chicken Samosas February 14, 2019
    Chicken Samosas

    Unbelievably delicious chicken samosas. The crispy, golden exterior breaks into shards giving way to the tastiest warmly-spiced minced chicken filling.

    November 20, 2018
    Roast Tandoori Turkey

    A deliciously spiced twist on traditional turkey, this tandoori turkey has an especially scrumptious gravy. Perfect with mashed potatoes & roasted veggies.

    July 4, 2017
    Grilled Butter Chicken Skewers

    Butter Chicken on a stick! Juicy grilled chicken mopped with a delicious yogurty, tomatoey, spiced sauce. Just toss all of the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor and let the appliance do all the work.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x