“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.
Makes: 20 1″inch balls
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
400g (2 cups) dry milk powder
100g (1/2 cup) flour
2 tsp baking soda
90g (6 Tb) butter, melted
110ml (~1/2 cup) milk, @ room temp
canola oil for frying
pinch saffron, ground
400g( 2 cups) sugar
400ml (2 cups) water
3-4 cardamom pods, crushed
2 tsp rose water
Crushed pistachios & almonds
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 melt butter.
Remove from heat, 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 add butter and smoosh the mixture.
Drizzle the milk and knead til a smooth dough forms.
Cover and let the dough rest while you make the syrup.
Grab a small saucepan and place over cardamom pods.
Give them a good crushing til the little seeds are release and cracked.
Toss the cardamom into the saucepan with sugar and water.
Use a mortar & pestle to crush saffron threads with some sugar.
Add to sugar mixture and set over a low flame.
Bring to a rolling bowl and turn off the heat.
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 together.
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 place the dough balls onto the paper-lined tray to cool.
Once cooled, pour syrup over them dough balls and enjoy.
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.