One of the joys of travelling is you get to taste different cuisine and foods. One of the most popular right now is Gulab jamun, a sweet dessert you can find almost everywhere in India. The concoction consists of a dough made up of milk solids mixed with sugary syrup and flavoured with saffron or rosewater with cardamom seeds.
How is Gulab Jamun Prepared?
Gulab jamun is kind of similar to the desserts served up in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, although there are local variations in the preparation. In Nepal for instance, the dessert is called Lal-Mohan and may be accompanied by yoghurt, though it is always made up of milk solids, and in India the milk is heated until water dissipates. Afterwards, the milks are kneaded, floured and moulded into ball-like shapes and fried at 148 C. Flavouring such as saffron, kewra or green cardamom are also added.
The dish’s colour comes from the sugar used with the milk powder, so it often appears brownish red. Some variants put the sugar with the batter and then fried, giving it a very dark colour that almost appears black, and due to its appearance this Gulab jamun variant is called black jam. While this is very popular with a lot of people there are other ways the dish can be served up. For instance, the sugary syrup may be substituted with maple syrup that has been slightly diluted so it tastes differently. In addition to the commercially available Gulab, homemade variants can also be prepared using powdered milk, butter, baking powder and flavouring. The ingredients are then added to a sugar mixture and fried.
The name Gulab jamun is Persian in origin, stemming from ab (water) and gol (rose), indicative of the rosewater, suggesting those are the original flavours of the dessert. However, its exact origin is unclear though there are several myths and stories surrounding it. Probably the most popular claim is that the dish was the creation of Sajjan Dhillon, a Sikh chef who prepared it for the ruler of Punjab. Whatever its origins are, it became very popular in the Ottoman Empire, and today it is one of the most widely consumed desserts in India and is commonly served in weddings and special occasions. The dish is also served during the Muslim celebrations of Diwali, Eid al-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr.
The fact that there are so many variants of this dessert is a testament to how popular it is, and it’s a good idea to sample the different flavours. The fact is you can’t travel in India without running into this food, so give it a try. And if you happen to head off to Pakistan, Sri Lanka or the nearby countries, you’ll get to compare the different variants.
If you’re getting ready to pack your bags and travel, don’t forget to get comprehensive travel insurance. Once you’ve had your fill of Gulab jamun you’ll no doubt be engaging in other activities, so it’s a good idea to get comprehensive travel insurance just in case there’s an emergency or you have to make urgent changes to your travel plans.