Friday, May 18, 2007


One of the things that I miss as an Indian in Cairo is the ready availability of Indian sweets. And the two sweets that I miss the most? Ice cold rasagollas and steaming hot gulabjamuns. Ah what pleasure there is in partaking the soft wholesome sweetness of these two "mithais"! You have to taste them to understand what I mean.

Out of the two, a gulabjamun is relatively easy to prepare. A nationally popular sweet delicacy, it is made with khoa (a desiccated milk product) and maida (wheat flour). Shaped round or cylindrical, a gulabjamun is golden to dark brown in color and has a soft yet firm body and smooth texture. It is soaked in thick sugar syrup. In 1858, it attracted the fancy of Lady Canning, the first Vicereine of India, after whom a variety was "created" in her honor, named Ledikeni.

Gulab Jamun is a sweet basically of Bengali origin and has been happily adopted and claimed to be their own by all regions in India. Perhaps this is one Indian sweetmeat, called the same thing practically throughout India. Gulab in Hindi means rose and jamun is a fruit of deep purple colour. The sweet must have got its name because of its size/shape /colour and the fact that rose essence is added to the sugar syrup.

In a quest for making something familiar, I managed to get a recipe for making gulabjamuns at home from my aunt-in-law! It comes from a good cook, so should taste good. Most importantly, it can easily be made with locally available ingredients. So go right ahead and read this very accurate, yummy tasting recipe with its deliciously wicked writing style. Thanks maashi, you are a treasure! (and I love the style of writing!!)

"GULABJAMUN - the recipe

Take one cup of Nido milk powder, preferably made of FULL CREAM milk (I sense u wince!) and 1 tablespoon of flour.

Use MOSTLY oil or GHEE,and virtually no water, to knead the dough (I hear u groan!).

Add 1/4teaspoon of baking powder.

Make the dough into balls that could expand to the size of jeejays, preferably with a pistachio nut, elaichi at its centre.

Make a THICK, SYRUPYconcoction, obviously letting sugar & water come to a boil (I see u throw up your hands in despair!).

Heat the oil to the maximum possible, and DEEP-FRY the sinful little globules in the even more sinful oil ( Oops! do you need smeling salts?).

Don't use a sharp implement so that the perfectly spherical, prospectively juicy mouthfuls don't suffer its sharp stabs and disintegrate.

Keep lowering the flame & stirring patiently.

Let your heart feel overjoyed and sing as you see the virgin white confections acquiring a golden brown tinge.

Don't let them become dark brown or black, or u will have a repeat performance of King Alfred and the cakes.

Let the treacle cool a bit before immersing the fleshy roly-polies in them.

Try dropping in one of them first to see if it breaks, and take further care that the others don't.

Play it by the ear for the chef's experience of such culinary catastrophes.

Justifiably swell with pride as you see your mushy, sachharine-sweet creations desirably puffup to a mature size and shape."