One of the Joys of Indian cuisine is that it is so different and similar all at the same time. But the one particular dessert you'll always find subtle taste variants in is Gulab Jamun, and it is one dessert you are sure to find anywhere in India. Here's something you didn't know about the road to the state of Lucknow through the Delhi-Shahjahanpur-Lucknow National Highway 24: you will come across a kilometer worth stretch where there are a ton of little shops along that whole way that sells Gulab Jamun. The aroma fills all your senses with this rich creamy sweet, which unquestionably makes our heart skip a beat.
The name Gulab Jamun is of Persian origin. It comes from "ab" meaning water, and "Gul" meaning rose, which is indicative of the rose-scented syrup, and those are the authentic flavours of the sweet. This deliciously tasty sweet isn't only cherished in India, but foreign countries like Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even Mauritius also enjoy this delicacy. However, Gulab Jamun is presumed to be contrived in India, somewhere near the medieval period, introduced with the invasion of Mughal rulers. This delicacy is a lot like an Arabic dessert named Luqmat-Al-Qadi, which, in a real sense, means "the judge's morsel" — the sweet was found so delectable that it was enough to influence the opinion of a judge! This dessert is absolute bliss and adds soul to any gathering.
The Ideal Gulab Jamun calls for carefully measured ingredients and a practiced technique. Made with Chenna (or khova) and kneaded with maida, small balls of the dough get seared till they turn into a blushing shade of golden and brown colour. After the warmed oil does its work, the solidified sugar in the dough makes a somewhat grainy crust while the Jamun's white inside stays as soft as butter, ready to melt in your mouth.
But let me bring your attention to the lesser-known variants and facts of this ambrosian dessert:
Gulab Jamun gets its brownish tone because of the sugar content in the milk powder (khova). In other variants of Gulab Jamun, sugar is added outside the batter, and once it is fried, the sugar caramelisation gives it its dark, practically black tone, which is then called Kala Jamun or "dark jam." The sugar syrup might be replaced with (slightly) diluted maple syrup for a Gulab Jamun.
Homemade Gulab Jamun typically comprises khova, a pinch of all-purpose flour/refined wheat flour/wheat flour (discretionary), heating powder, and butter or ghee. Some milk is kneaded into it to form a dough, shaped into balls, fried, and dropped into a gently bubbling sugar syrup.
Katangi, a town close to Jabalpur, is known for its "Jhurre Ka Rasgulla," which has been made there for over 100 years. It is more than the size of an ordinary Gulab Jamun and is made with the local desi ghee.
In Rajasthan, rather than dousing Gulab Jamun balls in a sugary syrup, they are cooked in a gravy, made using spices, nuts, and tomato to make the famous Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi.
And This is just a fraction of the variants, and we thought we have tried them all, who were we kidding?! But this is an opportunity to visit our country once more via food. So, let’s grab that all-new Milky Mist Gulab Jamun and give these variations a spin! If you are confused on where to start, we’ll give you a push towards the simplest and probably best combinations out there, that is, taking these mouth-watering fried cotton balls soaked in flavored light sugar syrup and serving it with plain vanilla ice cream. Don’t know about you, but we can definitely hear the heavens opening up!