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Asha's Gulab Jamun

Recipe by: Asha Loupy

Makes: 22 balls

Asha's Gulab Jamun
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

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.

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  • 1⅓ cups (176g) non-fat milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons (24g) buttermilk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) semolina
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon Surya Salt 
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, softened
  • ¾ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, half and half, plus more
  • 1 big pinch Kashmiri Saffron
  • 3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Panneer Rose, plus more for garnishing
  • 6 to 8 pods Baraka Green Cardamom, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Neutral oil, such as canola or rapeseed, for frying


  1. Combine the milk powder, buttermilk powder, flour, semolina, baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add the ghee and, using your fingers, rub the ghee into the dry ingredients until it looks like coarse sand.
  2. Stir in the half and half, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the dough, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the saffron in a mortar, pound into a fine powder and add it to a large pot along with the sugar, rose petals, green cardamom, lemon juice, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1¾ cup water. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid has turned a gold color, 5 to 6 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and keep warm while you form and fry the dough.
  4. Take a heaping tablespoon (21g) piece of dough, gently squeeze it with your hand, then roll it between your palms into a smooth ball. If the dough looks rough or cracks a little, dampen your hands with a little half and half and continue rolling. Transfer the finished ball onto an oiled plate and repeat with the remaining dough. (You should end up with about 22 balls.)
  5. Meanwhile, heat 1½ ” neutral oil to 300°F in a large pot over medium heat. Fry the balls in batches, flipping occasionally to promote even cooking, until puffed and deep golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place the fried balls to a wire rack-lined for 1 minute to drain, then transfer to the pan of warm syrup.
  6. Once all the gulab jamun are fried and in the syrup, turn off the heat, and let cool down to room temperature, flipping the balls once so they are evenly soaked. Soak for at least 4 hours, up to overnight. If soaking overnight, transfer the gulab jamun to the refrigerator.
  7. To serve, gently heat the gulab jamun over medium-low heat until warmed through. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl or individual bowls, spoon a generous amount of syrup over, and garnish with more rose petals, if desired.

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