Gulab Jamun (gul-aab jaa-mun) is a North Indian Sweet, commonly served on festive occasions, but is popular across the country.   This sweet is made up of fried khoya (milk solids) balls, soaked in rose water or saffron flavored sugar syrup. The name Gulab Jamun is a derivative of two words namely gulab (for use of rose water) and jamun (similar in size and shape to a South Asian fruit called Jamun). 

Traditionally, this sweet is made with a special kind of khoya / mawa called Hariali Mawa or Chikna Khoya which is obtained by reducing low fat milk, this khoya  is creamy in colour and texture.  Gulab Jamun’s can also be made using milk powder, besides most stores stock instant Gulab Jamun Mix that can be used to make these too.   Gulab Jamun is available in various forms, some soaked in syrup, and others are served dry in paper cups.  Another popular Jamun is Kala Jamun, which is similar to the Gulab Jamun, but is darker (almost black) in color, hence the name. 
My brother is not a great fan of sweets, but Gulab Jamun is among the few sweets he loves.  We did not require a festive occasion to eat these as mom made them often enough. Helping mom make these was a thrill, well helping actually involved rolling the marble sized khoya ball in the palm, making sure there were no cracks in them.  It would take me ages to roll the ball into shape, carefully making sure the shape was right and all the cracks were gone, breaking and reshaping again and again.  By the time I finally succeeded, mom would have finished rolling all the other balls.  

Getting mom to fry the Gulab Jamun shaped by me was quiet a ceremony, this lone fried ball in sugar syrup would be placed in a special small bowl, to show to all at home that I had made it.  I can still recollect those moments as if it was yesterday.  My tiny palms glistening with the fat picked up by rolling the khoya ball.  My grandfather tasting the sweet and saying it is tastier than usual because I helped to make it… oh the joy of Childhood.

Today, I have made the Gulab Jamuns using Khoya and flavored them with Saffron and Cardamom.  I have tripled the recipe to serve these for a party.
Preparation Time - 15 minutes
Cooking Time - 45 minutes
Makes - 30 Jamuns

Ingredients -
For the Khoya Balls
·         250 gms          Hariali Mawa / Chikna Khoya / Gulab Jamun Mawa 

·         3 tbsp             Refined Flour 
·         ¼  tsp             Cardamom Powder 
·                               Ghee / Oil for Frying

For the Sugar Syrup
·         3 cups                 Sugar 

·         3 cups                 Water 
·         ¼  tsp                  Cardamom Powder 
·         few strands          Saffron

Method –

For the Sugar Syrup

·         In a large  pan (the pan can be shallow but should have a broad base) mix together sugar and water and bring to a boil.
·         Simmer over a low flame till the syrup is of one string consistency.
·         Scum the top of the syrup, to remove any floating impurities.
·         Flavor the syrup with cardamom powder and saffron and keep warm.  

For the Khoya Balls

·         Mix together, khoya, flour and cardamom powder and knead it into firm dough.  Take care to make sure that all the lumps from the Khoya are broken.
·         Divide the khoya dough into 30 equal portions and shape the balls in the palm of your hand.  Care must be taken to eliminate any cracks.  The surface of the balls should appear smooth and crease free.
·         Chill the balls in the refrigerator for 10-12 minutes (The time required to heat the ghee to fry the balls).  
·         To fry the balls, heat the ghee on a medium-low flame in a deep pan, for about 10 minutes.  The pan should hold at least an 1½” of ghee. 
·         Deep fry the balls a few at a time, till they brown nicely.  The balls will double in size when fried, so take care to leave sufficient room in the pan.  Stir the ghee at short intervals to obtain evenly browned balls.  It will take approximately 7-10 minutes to cook the balls through. Drain and set aside.
·         Immerse the drained khoya balls into the warm sugar syrup.
·         Soak the fried balls for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Preferably over night in the refrigerator, to give them sufficient time to absorb the sugar syrup and double up in size.
·         Can be served at room temperature or slightly warmed.  

Note – 
·         To check the consistency of sugar syrup, dip a spoon in the syrup and lift it out.   Allow it to cool for a few seconds as it will be very hot at first. Now, dip the tip of your index finger into the syrup, touch your finger and thumb together and gently pull apart. If one thread is formed between your finger and thumb the syrup is done.  If the syrup is not sticky enough you will have to simmer it some more.  Take care that you do not cook the syrup for too long as it will begin to caramelize.  If the syrup has become too thick, you may have to use some water to thin it down.
·         Turn off the flame as soon as the syrup has reached the desired consistency, preferably while it is still at half string stage as  it will get cooked some more due to the carry over heat in the pan.
·         It is important to knead the khoya into smooth but firm dough.  You can grate the Khoya to ensure that all the lumps are broken.
·         If the Khoya is fresh and creamy, it will come together quickly.  However, if it is dry and crumbly, add a spoonful of warm milk to knead the dough.
·         If the balls are not smooth textured, you may need to knead the dough a little more.
·         Frying the khoya balls requires a lot of patience, as you can only fry a few at a time making sure that they cook evenly and brown without cracking or disintegrating into the pan.  So, make sure there is someone around at home to answer the door and the telephone while you are frying these. 
·         Gulab Jamun fried in ghee will have a richer flavor than those fried in oil.  You can use a combination of ghee and oil too.
·         Temperature plays the most important role in frying the balls.  If the ghee is too hot, they will change colour quickly but remain uncooked inside.  When soaked in syrup, you will find a lump of raw dough in the center of the gulab jamun. 
·         Many recipes use more flour content in order to minimize the importance of regulating the temperature.  But Gulab Jamun tastes best with the least use of flour.
·         It is important to keep moving the balls while frying so that they are evenly coloured.  It is suggested that u stir the ghee instead of the balls as they are very delicate at this stage and will start crumbling if not handled correctly.
·         If you are comfortable, you can use less quantity of ghee in the pan and fry fewer Gulab Jamun by taking the pan off the flame and swirling it.  This action ensures evenly coloured balls, without damaging them.  This technique requires some practice.
·         Hot Gulab Jamun taste great served with a scoop of Vanilla Ice-Cream.