In my books, no celebration is complete without a big, warm bowl of Gulab Jamun! This classic Indian dessert is a sugary miracle - soft, fried dough coated in a delicious syrup topped with pistachios. In this blog, you’ll see how this recipe is perfect for beginners. Simple ingredients and just 20 minutes of prep time are all you need for the most divine easy homemade gulab jamuns.
With its characteristic golden brown hue and dunked in a syrup akin to ambrosia, gulab jamun is always a showstopper. The recipe I am sharing is straight from my mother’s kitchen. I always defer to her for traditional recipes and her version of homemade Gulab Jamun is no exception!
What is Gulab Jamun
To anyone who has not tasted Gulab Jamun before imagine fried donut balls coated in a sugar syrup, which is infused with saffron. Definitely an indulgence, but worth it!
Though this dish is a staple in Indian cuisine, it’s origins go back to Persia. It’s similar to a traditional Arabic dessert, Luqmat-Al-QadiGul which is said to have been brought to India with the Mughal emperors. Its name is linked to Persian roots as well - ‘Gulab’ derived from Persian words ‘gul’ (flower) and ‘ab’ (water) that refer to rose-scented syrup. ‘Jamun’ is the Hindi-Urdu word for Black Plum, which has a similar shape to the dessert.
Making Easy Homemade Gulab Jamun
The process and ingredients involved are very simple. Traditionally, Gulab Jamun is made with milk solids (khoya), but my mother’s recipe replaces that with milk powder. This quickens the process significantly!
The recipe is broken into 2 parts - making the sugar syrup and the dough.
- In a saucepan, combine sugar, saffron and water on medium heat.
- Once a thick, sticky syrup is formed, take it off the heat and add cardamom powder.
- Set the syrup aside and keep warm.
Once the dough is prepared, they will be soaked in this mixture so it should not be cold.
- Lightly roast suji/semolina in ghee for a few minutes on low heat.
- Stir in the milk and mix continuously, until a dough is formed - make sure the low heat is maintained.
- Once the dough-like mixture is formed, take it off heat.
- When it is cool enough to handle, add in ghee and milk powder. Gently knead this mixture together till smooth, there should be no cracks!
- Divide the dough into equal balls, rolling gently in your palms.
My mother makes 18 gulab jamuns with this recipe, but you can make them smaller or larger based on personal preference.
- Time to fry! Heat oil in a kadai/deep saucepan. Once the oil is hot enough, drop 4-5 dough balls and fry on medium heat till golden brown. Repeat with all.
- Once the dough balls are nicely browned all over, give them a quick strain to get rid of excess oil. Don’t add them to the sugar syrup before doing this!
- Now combine the syrup and dough balls - drop them into the sugar syrup and let them soak for 1 - 2 hours. The syrup should be hot or warm before adding the dough balls in, so reheat if necessary.
Then, dig in!
Serving Easy Homemade Gulab Jamun
Fresh and piping hot is how I like to eat my gulab jamun in the colder weather! However, they are just as delicious served warm or even cold. We eat them with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios on top. Each bite is heavenly and will leave you warm from head to toe.
Using Khoya vs Milk Powder
Traditionally, gulab jamuns are made using khoya aka milk solid. This ingredient is formed by cooking milk continuously over a low flame. You can make khoya at home or find it in the market! Adding khoya to your homemade gulab jamun will lend it a great soft texture.
Using milk powder is a shortcut, but the results are still excellent. My mother first made gulab jamun without khoya when she did not find any at home, but fell in love with the milk powder version. It’s quick and yields great gulab jamuns every time!
Common Questions about Easy Homemade Gulab Jamun
How long can I store the gulab jamun for?
While I recommend eating them fresh, you can store gulab jamun in the fridge for up to a week.
How to make sure the gulab jamuns are soft?
Over kneading can lead to harder gulab jamun, so stop once your dough is smooth and uniform. Use a gentle hand to roll the balls, don’t put too much pressure! If there are cracks forming, you can add a little milk to help smoothen the dough balls.
How to make sure the gulab jamuns are cooked evenly?
Make sure the oil you fry the gulab jamun in is not too hot, otherwise they will get brown but not cook well inside.
Why are the gulab jamuns falling apart?
- The syrup you are soaking the gulab jamun in may be too watery. When preparing this sugar syrup, make sure it is sticky, but not too thin.
- The heat of the oil you fry the dough balls in should not be too high, otherwise they might break apart.
Looking for more easy Indian Desserts?
Easy Homemade Gulab Jamun
- 3/4 cup Suji /Semolina
- 2 tsp Ghee
- 1.5 cup Milk
- 2 tbsp Milk powder
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1.5 cup Water
- 1 tsp Cardamom / Elaichi powder
- 1/4 tsp Saffron
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, saffron, and water. Cook on medium heat until a thick, sticky syrup is formed.
- Take it off the heat and add the cardamom powder.
- Set aside and keep warm.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, lightly roast the suji/ semolina in 1 teaspoon of ghee, for 1-2 minutes, on low heat.
- Add milk and keep stirring continuously until the suji/ semolina becomes like a dough. Make sure this is done on low heat.
- Take it off the heat.
- As soon a sits cool enough to handle, add the milk powder and ghee and knead until the dough is smooth. There should be no cracks in the dough.
- Divide the dough into 18 equal-sized pieces and roll into small balls.
- Heat oil in a kadai or a deep saucepan.
- Once the oil is hot enough, drop 4-5 dough balls and fry on medium-low heat until they are golden brown. Repeat with all the dough balls.
- Drop the hot gulab jamuns into the warm/hot sugar syrup and let them soak for 1-2 hours.
- Sprinkle some chopped pistachio on top and serve hot. Enjoy!!