June 18, 2022

Gulab Jamun – The Sweet encounter with a sweetened fried dough

Gulab Jamun

Literally translates to Rose as in Gulab and Berry as in Jamun. Gulab Jamun is a sweet confectionary that is soft to the touch, and its texture is like a cloud sponge. Originating in the Indian Subcontinent, this Sweet Indian Dish is known as ‘Mithai’. It is famous in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal. The Maldives is also a big fan of this Indian Sweet, but they call the Indian Sweet Dish ‘Gulab ki Janu’.

Many nations with the South Asian populace enjoy Indian Dishes like the sweet Indian Dish, Gulab Jamun. These nations include places like Mauritius, Fiji, the Gulf States, the Malay Peninsula, Great Britain, and South Africa, alongside the Caribbean countries – Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname.


Now that we know that numerous people love this Indian Dish, let us learn how it is made! The Indian Sweet Dish incorporates the use of milk solids from khoya. Khoya is made by evaporating milk till getting curdled texted and ending up with milk solids. The traditional khoya extraction from the milk makes the Dish very special and immensely delicious. The reduced milk, khoya, is rolled and tossed until you get a soft dough consistency.

The soft rolled dough is then mixed with a good amount of regular flour, also known as ‘maida’ in the Indian subcontinent. The use of baking powder is also initiated for the process. The mixture is then needed, made into small balls, and fried in oil or ghee until golden brown. These fried balls are then instantly dipped in a sweet syrup dip made of sugar and water. After this procedure, you get what’s called ‘Gulab Jamun’. Some people also constitute this with dried milk or powdered milk.

The trick here is that even with the soft insides, the slow-cooked and frying motion should cook the inside without making it chewy or frying it too much. The fried balls are soaked in a light sugar syrup flavored with green cardamom and rose water, kewra, or saffron. Hot gulab jamun is often served with vanilla ice cream or Kulfi.

It is said that inspired by a fritter, Luqmat al-qadi was the first one to prepare the Dish in medieval Iran. After that, the Dish traveled to India with Central Asian Turkic conquerors. Another theory states that the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s chef made it accidentally. In this Indian Dish for the sweet-toothed, the word ‘Gulab’ was derived from the Persian word ‘gol,’ meaning flower, and the word ‘āb’ meaning water.

This was used to refer to the rose water-scented syrup. According to the culinary historian, the Arab desert ‘luqmat al-qadi’ is the most similar desert to Gulab Jamun and might have its roots in a Persian dish, with rose water syrup being a constant in both of the dishes. To experience the true blissful Indian Desert, stop by the best Indian Restaurants like Little India in Denver, Colorado.

In India, Gulab Jamun is a dessert often enjoyed at different occasions, festivities, and birthday celebrations. It is also an excellent way to ‘sweeten the mouth’ during a marriage ceremony, according to the Indians. This Dish does not discriminate between religious beliefs. It is served during Muslim Eid ul-fitr and Eid al-Adha and during Hindu festivals like Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Some Health Benifits;

Gulab jamun is undoubtedly a delicious and indulgent dessert, but it’s important to note that it is not typically considered a healthy food. It is high in sugar, fat, and calories, which can have negative effects on health if consumed excessively. However, like many foods, gulab jamun does have some potential health benefits when consumed in moderation:

  1. Source of Energy: Gulab jamun provides a quick source of energy due to its high carbohydrate content. The sugar in the dessert is rapidly absorbed by the body, providing a quick energy boost.
  2. Source of Calcium: Khoya, a primary ingredient in gulab jamun, is made from milk, so it contains some amount of calcium. Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth.
  3. Moderate Protein: Khoya also contains some protein, which is necessary for muscle repair and overall body function.
  4. Mood Booster: Like many sweet treats, gulab jamun can have mood-enhancing effects due to its sugar content. However, these effects are temporary and can be followed by a “sugar crash.”

While these potential benefits exist, it’s crucial to emphasize that gulab jamun should be consumed in moderation. Excessive consumption can lead to several health concerns:

  1. High Sugar Content: Gulab jamun is very high in sugar, which can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease if consumed in excess.
  2. High Calorie and Fat Content: It is calorie-dense and contains saturated fats due to the deep-frying process. Overconsumption can contribute to obesity and related health issues.
  3. Low in Nutrients: Gulab jamun lacks essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. It is essentially an empty source of calories.
  4. Digestive Issues: The richness of gulab jamun, especially when consumed in large quantities, can lead to digestive discomfort, including bloating and indigestion.

Certainly, while gulab jamun is primarily considered a dessert and not a health food, here are a few more points to consider:

  1. Antioxidants: Some variations of gulab jamun may contain ingredients like saffron or cardamom, which are known for their antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and may have some health benefits.
  2. Occasional Treat: Enjoying gulab jamun as an occasional treat during festivals, celebrations, or special occasions can add to the joy of the moment without causing significant harm to your health.
  3. Cultural Significance: Gulab jamun holds cultural significance in many South Asian communities and is often associated with traditions and celebrations. Enjoying it in a cultural context can have positive social and emotional effects.
  4. Portion Control: When consuming gulab jamun, consider portion control. Eating a small serving can satisfy your sweet cravings without overloading your body with excess sugar and calories.
  5. Homemade vs. Store-Bought: Homemade gulab jamun allows you to control the quality and quantity of ingredients, which can make it a slightly healthier option compared to store-bought versions with added preservatives.
  6. Balanced Diet: To maintain overall health, it’s essential to balance indulgent treats like gulab jamun with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  7. Active Lifestyle: Regular physical activity can help offset the calories consumed from occasional indulgences like gulab jamun. Engaging in exercise or physical activities can help maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.

Remember that while there are some aspects of cultural and emotional well-being associated with enjoying traditional desserts like gulab jamun, it’s crucial to be mindful of your overall dietary choices and ensure they align with your health goals and needs. Moderation is key when it comes to enjoying sweets and treats while maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet.

In summary, while gulab jamun can provide some energy and small amounts of nutrients like calcium and protein, it is not a health food. It is a sweet indulgence that should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. If you have specific dietary concerns or health conditions, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance on your diet and food choices.

There are various types of Gulab Jamun, and each of its variations has a very distinct taste and appearance. Some of its variants are the black ‘Kala Jamun’, The Bengali ‘Pantua’, The Jabalpuri ‘Katangi’ or say ‘Jhurre Ka Rasgulla’, and the Rajasthani ‘Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi’. Get some of the best Indian Deserts like the Gulab Jamun and other Indian Delicacies at Little India, which serves various Indian Foods in Lakewood, Colorado.