I promise you, once you try this quick, super-soft Gulab Jamun recipe made with milk powder, you are NEVER going back to any other version! There is a step-by-step tutorial for you, ALONG with troubleshoot for EACH step! Thanks to my IG fam, I’ve also put up an FAQs segment to clear out confusions that come up for first time Gulab Jamun makers, OR for those who have attempted before and didn’t get the perfect results. I’ve made this recipe as NON-technical and as fool-proof as a recipe can possibly be. With this recipe, you will nail this Classic Indian/Pakistani dessert EVERY single time!
What are gulab jamuns?
For those readers, who are new to Pakistani / Indian food, here’s a little something about Gulab Jamuns. They are a super popular Pakistani/Indian dessert, made for special occasions and festivities. “Gulab” means “Rose” and “Jamun” are the Black plum or Java plum, or a South Asian berry. So the name came into being, because Gulab Jamun are small plum sized round balls, fried and then dipped in rose flavored sugar syrup. These type of Pakistani/Indian desserts are called “Mithai”.
Traditionally, Gulab Jamuns were made with milk solids, which we brown folks know as “khoya”, made by simmering milk at low for hours until only the milk solids remain. Some would buy ready to use khoya from the market and make the jamuns. But, since the availability of khoya is restricted in most places outside of India/Pakistan, there came another quick method to make it. This quicker method uses milk powder instead of milk solids to make the balls. The milk powder Gulab Jamun recipe is super easy, and with the tips mentioned, even a beginner cook can ace them!
Notes on ingredients you need
To make the gulab jamuns, you simply need to prepare 2 things: the fried milk balls and the sweet sugar syrup aka Sheera to dunk the balls in.
Milk dough balls
The right consistency of the milk dough balls is the key to perfect gulab jamuns. IF you have a smooth, soft dough mixture, rest assured, you will have a smooth soft perfect Gulab Jamun.
For milk dough balls you will need:
- Milk Powder – You need full fat milk powder for this recipe. Whichever brand you decide to use, just make sure its NOT skimmed milk powder. For North America, you can find milk powder in any Indian/Pakistani grocery store or even mainstream stores like Wallmart etc. Use new milk powder, not more than 6 months old.
- Thick Yogurt – This is my special ingredient that takes your gulab jamun to the next level. Greek yogurt is best. Thick part of your regular yogurt works too. Incase your yogurt is watery, just use a small tea strainer and strain your yogurt for 5 mins to get rid of any extra liquid it packs.
- Semolina – Also known as Suji or Rava. Make sure to use the granulated kind and not the powder. The normal Suji would simply be labelled as Semolina. The powder would specifically mention Semolina Powder, which you want to avoid.
- White flour – All purpose flour and regular white flour, both will work.
- Egg – Use cold egg right outta the fridge. Unfortunately, you cannot substitute egg in this recipe
- Ghee – This is clarified butter. You need room temperature ghee for this recipe. Room temperature ghee would look different in different regions or house temperatures. It may appear solid, semi solid or liquid to you. Don’t worry about the “state”in which your ghee is. As long as its your room temperature, you are good to go.
- Baking Powder – Use fresh baking powder, preferrably not more than 6 months old.
- Cardamom powder – This is an optional addition to the dough. IF you feel you are very sensitive to smell, you can add a pinch of cardamom powder to the dough
- Neutral Oil or ghee for frying – You can use any neutral oil to fry the milk balls. You can also use ghee or a combination of both.
Sweet Sugar Syrup
We need a nice thin sugar syrup for this recipe. You will need
- Sugar – Regular white sugar is used in this recipe
- Green cardamom – This adds flavor and aroma to the milk balls, while covering up the egg smell
- Rose water – This is another aromatic used in this recipe. You can skip it if you don’t have any
- Food color – I use a pinch of yellow food color to tint the syrup. You can use saffron too
How to make Gulab Jamuns with milk powder
Learn to make gulab jamuns in 4 easy steps. I’ve made a long detailed style Stories on Instagram talking and troubleshooting Gulab Jamun. You can click here to see the video HIGHLIGHTS
Step 1 – Making the dough balls
- Start by adding all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them together with a spoon.
To ensure a smooth and lump free dry mix, use a sieve to sift the dry ingredients into the bowl before mixing it
- Make a small well in the center of the bowl and add the wet ingredients.
- And now we knead. The dough is going to be super sticky so I like to do the “kneading” with a spatula or the back of a spoon, but you can use your hands to do this, if you like.
After more than 2 dozen trials, I concluded, that for the perfect gulab jamun, we need to use ghee (clarified butter) at room temperature and cold yogurt and cold egg, while making the dough
- Your milk dough would look something like image 3, sticky and wet. If your dough looks dry and crumbly at this stage, add 1 extra teaspoon of thick yogurt and mix to get to this consistency.
- Once you reach this stage, cover the dough and refrigerate for 10 mins to let it rest.
RESTING the milk dough
Resting the dough in the fridge, helps to firm up the dough and makes it easier to shape into balls. DO NOT put in the freezer thinking it will speed up this process.
- After taking the dough out of the fridge, take out 1 heaped teaspoon dough and roll it out in a ball with the palm of your hands
- If your dough is still super sticky, then grease your hands with ghee to roll out the balls.
- I usually get 15 to 17 balls rolled out with this dough. And I make 2 small ones for testing.
- Roll out all the balls and place them on a plate, ready to be fried.
Gulab Jamuns expand once in oil and than once more when dipped in the sugar syrup. So, keep that in mind while rolling out the balls, to avoid making them too big.
Step 2 – Making the sugar syrup aka sheera
The sugar syrup or “sheera” is usually thick and has some specific consistency demands in most gulab jamun recipes. I’ve made this syrup recipe the simplest way possible, where you don’t have to worry about any of that.
To save time, you can get your sugar syrup started while your milk dough rests in the fridge.
- Simply add all the ingredients for the syrup in a wide sauce pan or pot and cook at medium heat until you see all the sugar dissolve.
- Once your sugar dissolves, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the syrup simmer uncovered.
- Your syrup needs to be thin and watery. IF somehow you left the flame at high, and your syrup has reduced too much, add some extra water to thin it out again.
NOTE: Select a wide pot/pan to make the syrup, because your gulab jamuns are going to be added to this pot, and you want ample room to allow the gulab jamuns to expand and cook.
Step 3 – Frying the dough balls
To fry the dough balls, you need another wide pot with enough oil for deep frying. You need the oil to be between 80 to 100 C. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, thats fine. Here’s a test you can do to check if your oil is ready.
OIL TEMPERATURE TEST
- Dip a small test ball in the oil. It should take a few seconds, expand and then rise up slowly with no scorch marks from where it hit the pan.
- If the oil is too hot, your ball will expand and rise up quickly but will also get a scorch mark from the pan where it touched it.
- If the oil is too cold, the ball will take too long to rise up.
- When in doubt, always go towards the colder side of the oil rather than hot. Cold oil will only take longer but not harm your milk balls. Hot oil will cook the outside of your gulab jamuns faster while the inside remains raw.
- One by one, add all the balls in the oil and use a wooden spoon to create a sort of whirpool effect in the oil to allow them to rotate around.
- Don’t touch the milk balls directly and simply swirl the oil until they stop expanding.
- Once the gulab jamuns have reached their maximum size, use the wooden spoon and constantly move them around for even browning. This takes somewhere between 3 to 5 mins.
- Once they get to nice golden brown color, or the color that you like, use a skimmer to remove the gulab jamuns onto a plate or directly add to the syrup pot
Step 4 – Cooking dough balls in syrup
- Directly add the gulab jamuns into the syrup to avoid an extra plate to clean up.
- Now you can increase the heat to high for the syrup and cover the pot with a lid.
- Allow the gulab jamuns to cook in the syrup for 5 mins at high flame. During this stage, they will expand some more and soak up all the liquid.
- After that, reduce the flame to low and cook for another 10 mins covered. This ensures that all the sweet syrup has penetrated the gulab jamuns completely and there is no raw centre.
- Turn off the heat and let the gulab jamuns rest in the syrup for a while. They are extremely soft right now. Allow them to stabilize a little bit before cutting into them.
The perfect gulab jamun has a smooth evenly browned outer layer with a soft and juicy centre that hold its shape.
Serve the Gulab jamuns warm or cold, garnished with sliced almonds and pistachios, some dried rose buds for extra flare.
Expert tips in a nutshell
- Use wide pan for both frying and making the syrup.
- Your oil should be atleast 1 inch deep in the pot
- Minor cracks or mild uneven browning is not something to be worried about, these flaws auto-correct themselves once they hit the sugar syrup.
- Gulab jamuns expand twice, once in oil, once in syrup, keep that in mind while make the dough balls
- The gulab jamuns need to be added while they are hot in the sugar syrup, don’t wait too long between frying and adding the jamuns to the syrup.
- Always use fresh baking powder and milk powder when making gulab jamuns
FAQS & Troubleshooting
Can you smell the eggy-ness?
Not at all. The rose water, green cardamom and ghee all act as aromatics and you cannot smell the egg even a little bit. But, if you think, you have a sensitive sense of smell, you can add a pinch of green cardamom powder to the milk dough.
Can I use the left over oil/ghee later?
Absolutely. The brilliant thing about gulab jamun dough is that it doesn’t leave any residue in the oil it is fried in. So you can absolutely use it later for all sweet and savory recipes. I usually end up using it to make regular every day food.
Why do my gulab jamuns disintegrate when they hit the frying pan?
That will happen if you use skimmed, low fat milk powder or powdered tea creamers. Always use full fat milk powder for any Gulab Jamun recipe that you try. Please check labels carefully before using milk powder for gulab jamuns. Almari, Mawa, Nido (full fat) are good brands to use.
Why did my gulab jamuns remain raw in the centre?
The balls remain raw in the centre when the sugar syrup or sheera doesn’t penetrate it completely. This happens if you didn’t cook your gulab jamuns long enough in the syrup or the syrup was too thick for the gulab jamuns to absorb it properly.
Why are the there cracks on my gulab jamun
Minor cracks in the gulab jamuns aren’t a problem. They stabilize once they cook in the sheera. But yes major cracks happen if your dough was too dry. With this recipe, you shouldn’t have that problem. But if you feel your doughis dry and crumbly, you can add a teaspoon of yogurt and bring it back together. Only add more yogurt if you feel you dough is super dry. Another thing you can do is pass the dry ingredients through a sieve to ensure your mix has no lumps.
My dough breaks is crumbly and not sticky like yours
Add a teaspoon of yogurt and mix to bring it back together.
My gulab jamuns deflate after hitting the sugar syrup
Gulab Jamuns deflate for 2 reasons, if they have too much moisture or if the milk powder, baking powder is expired. Moisture should not be a problem with this recipe. Your baking powder and milk powder shouldn’t be more than 6 months old.
Can I apply the tips on this post for another recipes?
The dough tips are specific for the dough, however the tips on frying method you can apply on any other recipe. Remember to always ask the recipe writer of that specific recipe you are following to help you out.
My dough is still sticky after I take it out of the fridge.
That can sometimes happen if your yogurt had a lot of water or simply because of minor seasonal fluctuations. Don’t worry thats totally normal. Simply grease your hands to shape the dough if you are unable to do so with ungreased hands. If you are still unable to shape them, then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of all purpose flour and mix the dough to make it less sticky.
Can we make bigger or smaller gulab jamuns than shown here?
Yes, you can. You can make smaller ones ranging from 20 to 25 or 10 large ones.
Can I half or double this recipe?
Yes absolutely! Use grams when you are going to half the recipe.