Gulab Jamuns

These Indian sweets are not for the faint hearted. Deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup, this is a dessert that says ‘Go hard or go home’. In the words of Jay Rayner, ‘It’s Type 2 diabetes in a bowl. Your pancreas sends a letter of resignation as you bite into it’. I love anything rose flavoured so am very keen on these.  I have fond memories of bringing home a big boxful left over after a party and spending a glorious few days working my way through them. Submerged in their syrup, they will keep for up to a week in the fridge. They are best served warm with ice cream.

Ingredients – Makes 10

500ml vegetable or sunflower oil, for deep frying

200g milk powder (full fat or skimmed)

16g self-raising flour

10g butter

5 tablespoons milk

For the syrup: 500g sugar

1 clove

1.5 tablespoons rose water

  1. Start by heating your oil in a wok over a a very low heat. As it warms, combine the milk powder and flour. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the mixture.
  2. Add the milk slowly. You may not need all of the last tablespoon of milk; I’ve found the dough can randomly be thirstier than other times so it’s fine to add more if needed. The dough should be toothpaste like in consistency.


3. Sprinkle your work surface with milk and shape the dough into balls, slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. Place the balls on the milky surface to stop them drying out.


4. Flick a little mixture into the oil; you should see a few tiny bubbles rising, like a glass of sparkling water. If it’s very bubbly, turn the heat down and wait five minutes before adding the gulabs. Slide half of them into the oil. Have a slotted spoon on hand as you fry them.

Gulab Pale

5. The balls will initially sink but will slowly rise to the surface and start to brown. Hover nearby and keep an eye on them. Turn them over as one side starts to cook.

6. As they cook, combine 500ml boiling water with the sugar, the rose water and clove. Keep over a low heat, ready for the gulab jamuns.


7. Once brown all over, they are cooked. This will take 20-30 minutes. They may not be completely uniformly brown but just make sure there are no pale patches left. The two at the back in the photo above could use a bit longer.


8. Remove the sweets from the oil with a slotted spoon and put them into the syrup. They will sink slowly into the syrup as they absorb it, which takes about half an hour. Serve warm, preferably with ice cream. You can re-heat them in their syrup; either in a saucepan on the hob or in the microwave.

(Don’t spend £4 on rose water from Waitrose. You can get a bottle for 80p from any Indian grocer’s or the world food section in most supermarkets.)