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Gulab jamun in syrup

Gulab jamun

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
    • plus 2-3 hrs soaking
  • More effort
  • Makes 16 (serves 6-8)

Make one of India’s most cherished festival desserts, gulab jamun. These fried dumplings are scented with cardamom and steeped in rose and saffron syrup

  • Vegetarian
Nutrition: Per serving (8)


For the syrup

  • 4 green cardamom pods, pierced
  • 600g caster sugar
  • few drops rosewater
  • ¼ tsp saffron strands, soaked in 2 tbsp warm water for an hour
  • 2 tsp chopped pistachios

For the gulab jamun


  • STEP 1

    To make the syrup, heat the cardamom, sugar and 500ml water in pan, not letting the water boil before the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 10 mins, then leave to cool.

  • STEP 2

    Add the rosewater, saffron and some of its soaking water, gradually adding to give a subtle flavour. Set aside in the pan.

  • STEP 3

    To make the gulab jamun, grind the cardamom and sugar with a pestle and mortar.

  • STEP 4

    Sieve the milk powder, flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and stir in the ground cardamom. Rub in the homemade ghee or butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  • STEP 5

    Add the yogurt, lemon juice and enough milk to form a soft dough – take care not to overwork the mixture.

  • STEP 6

    Oil your hands with a little sunflower oil and shape small portions of the dough into balls the size of a small walnut, about 3cm in diameter and 20g each. You should have 16 balls. Take care that the dumplings are smooth and have no cracks or folds.

  • STEP 7

    Reheat the syrup. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover with a lid.

  • STEP 8

    Heat the ghee in a wok or karahi to 130C. When a small piece of dough dropped into the oil turns golden in about 40 seconds, fry the balls in batches over a medium heat, moving them around until they are an even, deep brown, about 5-7 mins. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon, then drain on kitchen paper. Add to the warm syrup, leaving them to soak for 2-3 hrs or preferably overnight.

  • STEP 9

    When ready to eat, warm the gulab jamun through in a wide pan, spooning over the syrup. Serve piping hot.


Heat 250g unsalted butter in a small sturdy pan and cook over a low heat without stirring for 15-20 mins, until the milk solids start to brown and the butter is golden. Turn the heat off and leave the pan undisturbed for a few minutes. Line a metal sieve with muslin or strong kitchen paper and put it over a heatproof bowl. Pour over the melted butter, taking care to leave the browned milk solids in the pan. Leave the ghee for a few minutes to drip into the bowl, then pour into a jar. Because ghee has no moisture or milk solids, it will keep for 2-3 months at room temperature, and even longer in the fridge.

Goes well with

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