Gulab jamun is one of the most popular sweets made during festivals and other special occasions in India. You will find this dessert in every wedding meal as well. They are so delicious and tempting that everyone forgets worrying about calories. There are many variations in making gulab jamuns. But nothing will beat the taste, flavour and richness of the traditional version which is made with khoya/mawa. All-purpose-flour is added in little quantity just for binding the mawa dough.

Tips to make perfect gulab jamuns:

· Always use high-quality, pure and fresh khoya, (preferably home-made).

· Use pure ghee, not oil for frying gulab jamuns.

· Make the dough of mawa soft and smooth by rubbing it thoroughly. When the dough is not soft, the jamuns tend to be harder when cooked. Knead the dough properly until soft and smooth. You should be able to roll the balls without any breakage and wrinkles. The batter should neither be too dry nor too wet. If it is hard, add few teaspoons of milk. But do not add too much milk, otherwise it will become too wet. You can also add little fresh khoya and knead more if the batter is hard. There should be no lumps before you start making balls out of this dough.

· While rolling the balls, do not put much pressure. Just grease your palms with melted ghee and make balls with soft hands.

· You may fill the balls with a small piece of batasha to make them softer. Also you can fill them with chirongi, cardamom powder and raisins to make them tastier.

· The temperature of the ghee while frying the balls should be consistent, not too low, nor too high. If gulab jamuns are fried on high heat, they will become hard, though they would look perfect from outside. Also they may not be cooked properly from inside. So heat ghee on high flame first and then reduce the flame to medium-low while frying the jamuns.

· Before making all balls, make a small ball out of the dough and try to deep fry to check whether it comes out well or not. If it comes out well, make other balls also and fry them in portions. If it does not turn out to be perfect or breaks while frying, add little more flour to the dough and knead again for few minutes. So just try making only one small mawa ball first after kneading the dough and heating the ghee. If there is some lacking, fix it first before ruining the whole lot.

· Add few balls at a time to hot ghee. Make sure to drop only enough jamuns in one go for frying so that the heat of the ghee is maintained consistently throughout the frying process. Keep moving and turning the gulab jamuns till they are golden brown in colour.

· Do not add hot fried gulab jamuns in sugar syrup. Let them cool for 20-30 minutes and then soak them in chasni (sugar syup). Also the sugar syrup should not be boiling hot while soaking jamuns into it. Sugar syrup should be moderately warm.

How to make sugar syrup:

· Boil three glasses of sugar in one and a half glass of water adding some strings of saffron.

· Give a boil on high flame, then simmer it on low flame for 20 to 25 minutes until sugar gets dissolved properly and the sugar syrup thickens slightly. You need not form string in the syrup. Stir occasionally while it simmers. Turn off flame. Add two teaspoons of rose water and one teaspoon of cardamom powder, mix well and keep aside to cool.

Khoya is easily available in market but many a times it is not fresh. Rather than using store-bought khoya, make this delectable sweet with home-made khoya. Khoya is nothing but milk solids made by cooking milk and evaporating the moisture from the milk slowly. It gets solidified gradually as it is being cooked. Making khoya at home is time-consuming but it is very easy to make. Also it is pure, fresh and economical too.

How to make khoya/mawa at home:

· Take four litres of full cream milk. Put it into a heavy bottom, broad non-stick pan. Give a boil on high flame. Turn the flame on lowest and let it simmer for an hour. Keep stirring it after every few minutes scrapping the bottom and the sides. It will get thickened like ‘rabri’. After this stage, you have to stir it continuously scrapping the sides and the bottom until it solidifies like ‘halwa’. Turn off the flame. It will thicken and harden more as it cools down and then solidify. It takes around two hours to make this much quantity of khoya. You can refrigerate it for four to five days in an air-tight container or you can freeze it for a month or more. Take it out few hours before you want to use it if kept in freezer so that it can come in its original form when it was made and become soft.

How to make gulab jamuns:

Serves: 10

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Cooking time: 30-45 minute

Ingredients:

Khoya: 550 grams (made from four litres of full cream milk)

Maida: 6 tbsp

Batasha: 20

Chirongi: 40

Raisins: 25

Cashews: 25

Green cardamom: 6-7 (powdered)

Milk: 6 tsp

Pure ghee: 1 litre

Method:

· Crumble or grate khoya. Make khoya at home with the above recipe.

· Add maida and mix well kneading the dough for around 30 to 40 minutes. If you find the dough hard, add few teaspoons of milk to make the dough soft but not moist.

· Divide the dough in small equal portions. Roll and flatten them. Place a small piece of batasha, two to three chirongi, one raisin, two to three small pieces of chopped cashews and a pinch of cardamom powder in the centre. Close holding together the edges one by one. Make smooth balls with soft hands without giving pressure. The balls should be having a diameter of 1.5”. Also they should be crack-free.

· Refrigerate the balls for 10 minutes.

· Meanwhile make the sugar syrup as mentioned above.

· Heat ghee in a big frying pan.

· Once the ghee becomes perfectly hot, turn the flame on medium-low. Check whether the jamuns will come out well or not by frying one ball in the beginning. If it fries perfectly well, then add few balls. Make sure to drop only enough balls in one go to maintain the temperature of the ghee consistent throughout the cooking process. Keep moving and turning the jamuns until golden brown. Fry rest of the lot in the same way.

· Once fried, take them out on a kitchen towel.

· Let them cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

· Then put them in warm (not very hot) sugar syrup. Allow them to sit there for three to four hours. After soaking the syrup, gulab jamuns will swell and become slightly bigger in size. If they float in the syrup, it means they are made perfect. If they settle down, it means that they are dense or not cooked from inside.

Gulab jamun is a dessert served after meal or along with meal. Some prefer to have it warm and some prefer to have cold. You do not need any occasion to enjoy the succulent sweet dish. It is almost impossible to say no for this traditional evergreen Indian mithai. However, be careful! It is pretty addictive. A bite will flood your mouth with sugary goodness.