To celebrate the Indian festival of light, Diwali, which is coming up in October, Indian chef Anjum Anand lends us the recipe for one of India’s favourite desserts, gulab jamun. Famous the world over, these small, doughnut-like balls are sticky and soaked in a sweet syrup. Traditionally made with reduced milk, to save time, here they are made with (full-fat) dried milk powder. They are easy to make and the only two tricks to getting them right are making a soft dough and frying them over a very low heat so they cook all the way to the centre. Perfect with a cup of hot chai.
Makes 16, serving 1–2 per person
400ml full-fat milk powder
100ml plain flour
2/3 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp ghee plus extra to grease your hands
2 tbsp yoghurt
3 1/2 tbs milk
Oil for deep frying
Sliced pistachios to decorate
Large pinch saffron
1 tsp rose water (optional)
Heat the sugar and water together in a medium-sized saucepan and stir to help the sugar dissolve. Once boiling, simmer for two minutes and turn off. Add the saffron.
Pour about three inches of oil into a medium-to-large karahi, wok or saucepan. Heat gently.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Spoon the wet ingredients into the centre and quickly, with your hands, bring the dough together; it will be soft and moist. Do not knead, it just needs to come together.
Divide the dough into three and take one portion. Wet some kitchen roll and place on top of the remaining dough so it doesn’t dry out. Grease your palms with some ghee. Make five small balls with the dough, I like to make them slightly oval rather than round, but you can shape them how you like. Make sure there are no cracks – it should be completely smooth.
To check if the oil is ready, put a tiny ball of the dough into the oil. It should sink to the bottom, and very slowly make its way back up. When ready, add the balls, stirring the oil so they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook over a very gentle heat, turning them very often for even browning, they should take around 10–12 minutes per batch to reach a lovely golden brown. Once done take them out with a slotted spoon and place straight into the syrup.
Repeat with the next batch. Leave them to soak for 2 hours or overnight, covered in the fridge. They should last 10 days or more.
You can serve them cold, at room temperature or hot. I like them hot so heat them in the syrup on the hob or microwave. Sprinkle over the pistachios if using.