“They’re luscious little globes of sweetness.”
Saturday afternoon, I was working on a French country stew when I got a call from my cousin, asking if he and his Mrs could drop by for an impromptu visit. Delighted at first, my sentiments shortly escalated to something of a state of panic when I realized there was nothing in the house to present to my guests. No cake, no cookies, no ice cream, not even time to dash to the bakery. No self-respecting Armenian woman is ever so ill-prepared to entertain. After chasing my tail a bit, I realized I could probably whip up a batch of those gulab jamuns I missed from Christmas Eve.
When our guests arrived, my cousin said that his wife suggested they stop at a bakery on their way, but he declared it sacrilege to bring baked goods to my house. Fortunately, despite my haste, the gulab jamuns turned out beautifully. “Coco jan, how did you get them so perfectly round?” It really wasn’t me, at all. It was simply the magic of baking soda and hot oil.
Normal people order exotic things made by native people and just enjoy them. Crazy people like me want to learn to make them at home. And I did, which means so can you. The ingredients list is short and very basic ingredients, nothing fancy. Persian Basket has liquid saffron and rosewater if you to infuse the syrup with traditional flavors.
You may just have to run to the store for the milk powder. Look for it in the baking aisle on the bottom shelf, below the cans of sweetened condensed milk. Use a deep nonstick pot to prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom. Make sure the oil is warmed slowly and bubbles gently when the dough is added so the dumplings cook evenly to the center. Follow this simple recipe and you are sure to make headlines. These exotic little gems will have everyone, even last-minute guests wondering if you have any Indian heritage in your bloodline.
CAUTION: Keep little hands and furry friends at a safe distance.
Makes: 20 1″inch balls
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
pinch saffron, ground
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
3-4 cardamom crushed pods
1 tsp rose water
1 Tb butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp white vinegar
canola oil for frying
Use a mortar + pestle to grind saffron threads with a big of sugar.
Add to a pot along with the rest of the sugar, water and cardamom pods.
Stir to dissolve sugar and place over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes or so.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool. The syrup will thicken when cooled.
Add rose water.
Fill a deep, nonstick pot with about 2 inches of oil.
Place on the back burner over low, low heat.
Use a small saucepan to heat butter and milk just until butter has melted.
Remove from heat, gently swirl to combine and set aside.
Remove your rings and give your hands a good washing.
Combine dry milk powder, flour, baking soda and salt in a big bowl.
Slowly drizzle milk + butter mixture until dough forms.
Add vinegar and knead until dough comes together.
Drop a bit of dough into the oil to test the temperature.
If the dough rises to the top and the edges start to bubble, you’re ready.
Take a heaping teaspoon of dough, give it a little squeeze to be sure the dough stays
Gently roll it into a ball between the palms of your hands.
Set it over the spider or spatula and carefully lower into the hot oil.
Fry for a couple minutes until the ball just turns golden brown all around.
Do not overcrowd the pot as the temp of the oil will drop too much.
You can easily fry 5-6 balls at once.
Turn them occasionally to be sure they cook evenly.
Remove and drain oil.
Put into syrup while still hot and let them soak for a spell.
Store in syrup in an covered container for up to 3 days.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I have a terrible character flaw when it comes to baking There is a fundamental difference between cooking and baking. A savory recipe is really just a suggestion, but one for something sweet must be followed in detail. I have a problem obeying instructions, which isn’t a problem when I’m cooking. In baking, it could spell disaster.
This morning, I woke up early to make these luscious little gulab jamuns for my friends at the office. There was a bag of coconut flour in the pantry and I was curious how it would do as a substitute for regular flour. Feeling quite proud of my genius idea, I got right to work, without a drop of coffee in my blood. Unfortunately, the balls of dough fell apart in the oil. So, my little experiment proved me wrong. That is when I was convinced I should follow my own recipe.
Someone recently said that the price of eggs has gone up. I could not tell you the price of a dozen to save my hide, because I only care that they are free-range. Eggs are deemed a necessity, like gasoline, water and flour. Yes, flour is also a necessity, at least in my kitchen. Luckily, this recipe for gulab jamuns does not require eggs. Not only does it save money, but also calories, making it the perfect post-Christmas treat.