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Gulab jamun — one of the most well-known and beloved South Asian mithai (or sweets) — is a staple at our Diwali table. Plush, fried balls soaked in a delicately spiced syrup, this dessert may seem daunting to make, but it’s easier than you think — and, the end result is utterly swoonworthy.
While some recipes call for khoya (dried, evaporated milk solids), the easier and more accessible route is milk powder, which you can find in the baking aisle at the supermarket. The secret to our version is a little bit of buttermilk powder in addition to the milk powder, which brings a subtle, pleasing tanginess. The syrup for gulab jamun is classically flavored with rose (gulab meaning rose in Hindi), green cardamom, and sometimes a few strands of saffron or cloves. But, we love amping up the Kashmiri Saffron for an extra dreamy, fragrant flavor.
Cook’s note: The dry to wet ratio is important to create a light, airy texture, so using a kitchen scale for the dry ingredients is highly recommended. If you don’t have access to one, spoon the milk powder into the measuring cup and level, as you would flour.