A Trying Time in the Kitchen - Pt. 2 The Reveal

>> Saturday, 21 March 2009

Gulab Jamun, meet Gulab Jamoon. More correctly, I should say, Indian Gulab Jamun meet Indo-Caribbean Gulab Jamoon. The difference lies not just in the slight variation of the spelling of the word - Jamun/Jamoon - but also in the ingredients, method of preparation, shape, texture and appearance. Let me hasten to add that it was NOT the Indian Gulab Jamun that was difficult to make. Actually, I got that right on the first attempt! It was the Indo-Caribbean Gulab Jamoon that caused all the stress. Click here to read this week's column about this "one sweet to rule them all". This dish is a perfect example of a travelled food that has adapted.

I want to thank my friend, Alka of Sindhi Rasoi for pointing me in excellent directions in my quest for a made-from-scratch Gulab Jamun recipe. Thanks so much, I could not have done it without you. I used the recipe from www.manjulaskitchen.com with great success. Manjula was also kind enough to grant permission for her recipe to be printed in my column. You can either check the column for the recipe or get it directly from Manjula's site.

My friends, I invite you to this photographic display of the tale of a sweet with the same name but different characteristics.

Let's start with the shaped dough

Here they are - fried and waiting to be dressed

Dressed - sugar-glazed, soaking and soaked

This is what they look like on the inside

One sweet to rule them all indeed!

For those of you who would like to try making the Indo-Caribbean Gulab Jamoon, please see the recipe below.

Indo-Caribbean Gulab Jamoon
(My version)

Yield: 46 - 50 pieces

For dough:
3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided (3 cups and 1/2 cup reserved)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
1/2 cup whole milk
Oil for deep frying

For syrup:
2 cups white sugar
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

For dough:
  1. Add 3 cups of flour along with cardamom and cinnamon to a large bowl and mix well
  2. Rub in butter to flour-spice mixture
  3. Add condensed and whole milk to flour-butter mixture to make a soft dough (when mixed, the dough should come away clean from the sides of the bowl) Now depending on your location and the temperature in your home and the humidity of the atmosphere, it may be necessary to add the 1/2 cup reserved flour. You are looking for a dough that is soft and holds together easily and smoothly without any cracks! (like the photograph below)
  4. Cover with a damp cloth to keep moist; meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frying pan on medium to low heat
  5. Take a piece of dough at a time, about 1 - 1 1/2 ounce, and using the palm of your hands, roll into balls and then roll them length ways and press the dough between the palms of your hands to get the shape. Alternately, just roll them into round balls but it is traditionally made into an almond-like shape
  6. Fry in batches until browned all over and cooked through, about 4 - 5 minutes. This will depend on the thickness of the gulab jamoon. Be sure to regulate the heat so that they don't get brown quickly and not cook through. Drain on paper towel, repeat until all the dough is fried. Set aside to cool

For Syrup:
  1. In a saucepan, add the sugar, water and cardamom. Place on high heat and stir to dissolve. Once dissolved, let the mixture come to a roaring boil. Let boil until the syrup spins a thread (test by inserting a spoon into the syrup and as the syrup falls back, if it does so slowly and in a long thread-like manner it is done. Another way to test it is to insert the spoon, lift it with syrup and swirl the spoon, if it spins a thread it is perfect. Alternately, if you have a candy thermometer, the syrup should reach a temperature of 230 degrees F)
  2. Pour the syrup over the fried gulab jamoon and toss quickly and thoroughly to coat until sugar crystallizes. You can opt to work in batches

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