Unfortunately when you come into the land of puds and sweets generally speaking very little is simple. The west creates pastries and creamy delights for that final dish to complete or end any special meal or banquet; India is no different, equally as complex, equally as satisfying and equally as sweet. We human beings just love our sweet things.
It should be remembered that if you visit the majority of indian take-aways, or restaurants that the extent of the sweet menu is farcical, never going much beyond a bit of Gulab Jamun or Khoya Bonbons in Syrup as the translation goes those most delightful of sweet tasting sugar syrup soaked balls, delicious for sure,but packet made of that you can be certain of in the restaurants. For restaurants the genuine recipe for this dish contains two ingredients most cooks would shrink away from, and for the most part can’t be purchased at the corner store, or supermarket, and restaurants neither have the time market or inclination to make properly, so packet made is what you get and thats not to say that the packet version isnt delicious but….
That said we are not most cooks are we…No of course we are not I hear you say.
So make these tricky things we will….
First of these tricky things is Khoya, a milk reduction that is also found in many other sweet dishes Pinni for example, a quick translation is Bon Bons, and a fair description as in reality it is a sweet ball of sugar, flour, dried fruits, and khoya. You can also find Khoya in a many other dishes that require that concentrated milk taste,and there is a Khoya pudding that is delicious on its own but more of that some other time.
There is only one ingredient in Khoya and that is whole Milk
2 litres will make 400 gm or 14oz
First of all put the milk into a large heavy based pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low and stir every 5 minutes, the object here is to reduce the quantity prety much the same as you would do with any sauce, in this instance reducing by half. You will need to stir constantly and remove the dried layer of milk that sticks to the side of the pan. Carrying on with this reduction until your milk has reached the consistency of mashed potato. Once you have achieved this you can transfer to another pan and allow to cool…job done in about 90 minutes for the quantity suggested above. It will store in this condition in the fridge for at least a couple of days.
You can also store for a lot longer of you dry it another process that takes a little time but is worth the effort.
Place the paste into a cheesecloth or muslin bag , place it in the sink and weigh it down and leave it for at least an hour, the object being to get as much of the liquid out as you can, the resulting solid can be stored in the refrigerator, and can be grated or crumbled.
The next of the two vital ingredients for the traditional Gulab Jamun is Chhena
There’s one more ingredient here that you will need, besides milk in this recipe
160ml white Vinegar
2 litres milk
This is another milk process but one that relies on the curdling power of the white vinegar and again will require constant attention, with at least an hour of your time, and again your full attention as all good cooking should do!
Again you need to put the milk into a heavy saucepan and bring it to the boil, then immediately remove it from the heat and add the vinegar making sure that you spread the vinegar over the whole surface of the hot milk in a steady stream, and then stir for about three or four minutes, the end result of this should be a curdled milk or whey as it should really ber called.
This should be poured into a muslin bag or into a cloth placed in a strainer or colander in a sink to allow the liquids to drain away leaving the whey behind.
This achieved you should then start to prod and squeeze the bag until the milky whey starts to Ooze out.
Now comes the fun part whilst the whey is still warm spread it out on to a flat surface and begin to knead it, almost as if it was a bread dough using the palm of your hand and continue to do so until you have mashed out all the granules and it is as smooth as it will go. That’s essentially it.
All you need do now is allow it to cool, wrap it in foil and store in the refrigerator, but use it quick as its only any good for about 24 hours.
Well almost. the rest is easy……
So now is the time to make those Gulab Jamun that you have always promised yourself and trust me on this they are far superior to the mix that you can buy!
This recipe is the real McCoy and worth every second of the time it takes, rest assured the results will speak for themselves
Pinch of Saffron Threads
1 teaspoon Rosewater
300g/11 oz Khoya (See above)
50g/1.75 oz Chenna (see above)
4 Tbsp All purpose plain flour
1tsp Baking Powder
6 tsp cardamon seeds
12 unsalted Pistachio Nuts
1kg/2.25 lbs Sugar
0.75 tsp Lime Juice
Enough clean oil to Deep fat Fry!
First thing soak the Saffron in a finger sized bowl and soak in the Rosewater until required.
Crumble the Khoya and the Chhena to remove any lumps into a large bowl , add the flour, baking powder and 1 tbsp of Ghee and mix roughly make a soft dough, you will now need to knead this dough for no less than 5 minutes on a flat surface, you can lightly flour the surface to reduce sticking, or you can use a little ghee or oil to achieve the same result.
Oil your hands and start pinching off and rolling the dough into balls of about 1 inch in diameter.
Heat your deep fat fryer to around 170 degrees and deep fry for about 3 to 4 minutes or until they are a golden brown remove from the fryer and allow to cool and drain on some kitchen roll.
The great pleasure of this sweet is the Syrup that the Gulabs should be soaked in; and as such the recipe that follows for this is traditional but don’t be shy or scared to use any sweet flavouring that takes your fancy, or flavouring that appeals, Vanilla works just as well as Rosewater
However the start of a good syrup is achieved by filling a heavy based pan with water and adding all the sugar, yes all of it, you don’t need teeth for these pudding delights!
Heating the water gently to start whilst stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved. Now increase the heat and bring to the boil, continue to boil and remove the scum that floats to the surface with a slotted spoon, until the syrup reaches a one thread consistency, this should be done with extreme caution as this syrup is very hot indeed, but to test allow some to cool slightly on a spoon befor touching and then take some syrup between your thumb and forefinger and draw your fingers apart, the syrup will then form fine threads, the number of the threads indicates the correct consistency, but please be carefull we do not want any burns here!
Once this is achieved add the Rosewater and infused Saffron to the syrup, stir and then transfer the golden fried Gulab balls to the syrup, and leave for at least 30 minutes for the gulabs to soak up the syrup before serving. It is worth noting that the Gulabs will continue to soak up syrup for many hours and in my opinion are best left for a couple of hours for best results, however some people prefer them completely deliciously gooey. My suggestion is make a batch stick em into soak and eat them over a period of twenty-four hours to find your ideal soak time…..or is that just a bit too greedy for ya?