Gulab jamun (sticky saffron-flavoured dumplings)

gulab jamun 1 saffron

These are really delicious and one of India’s favourite little desserts. They are traditionally made with reduced milk but as that takes a lot of time and effort, many of us make them with dried milk powder instead. They are easy to make and the only two tricks to getting them right  is a soft dough and frying them over a very low heat so they cook all the way to the centre. They are very moreish! Serve as they are or warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.



  • 200 g full fat milk powder
  • 65 g plain flour
  • ⅔ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee, plus extra to grease your hands
  • 100 g yoghurt
  • 100 ml full fat milk, approximately
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • finely chopped pistachios, to serve, optional


  • 350 g sugar
  • good pinches saffron strands
  • ½-1 tsp rose water, or to taste


Place the milk powder, flour and baking powder in a large bowl and stir to combine well. Add the yoghurt and most of the milk and use your hands to combine until a moist and slightly sticky dough forms. Add the remaining milk if necessary. Set aside.

To make the syrup, place the sugar, saffron and 650 ml water in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the rose water and set aside.

Pour about 10 cm oil into a wok or wide saucepan and place over low heat.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half and keeping the other half covered so it doesn’t dry out, grease your palms well with ghee and shape the dough into 9 small tight balls. I like to make them slightly oval rather than round but you can shape them how you like. The surface should be smooth and crack-free. If the dough is too soft to shape, add a little more milk powder.

To check if the oil is ready, put a tiny ball of the dough into the oil. It should only sizzle very slightly. When ready, add the balls, stirring the oil as you put them in. Cook, stirring and turning regularly, for 15-17 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and place straight into the syrup.

Repeat with the remaining dough.  Leave the gulab jamun in the syrup to soak for 2 hours or overnight, covered in the fridge. They should last 10 days or more.

You can serve them cold, at room temperature or hot, sprinkled with pistachios if using.  I like them hot so heat them in the syrup on the stove or in the microwave

by: Anjum Anand


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natasha may
natasha may
7 years ago

this is one of my fav desserts!

madeline bosch
madeline bosch
7 years ago

Oh my gosh I love them!!! With a bit of ice cream they are heaven balls!!!

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