Gulab jamun (also spelled gulaab jamun) is a milk-solid-based sweet from the Indian subcontinent, popular in India, Nepal (where it is known as gulab jamun), Pakistan, the Maldives (where it is known as gulaabujaanu), and Bangladesh (where it is known as golap jam), as well as Myanmar. It is also common in Mauritius, Fiji, the Malay Peninsula, South Africa, and the Caribbean countries of Trinidad and Tobago, where it is called Rasgulla, Guyana, and Suriname. It is made mainly from milk solids, traditionally from Khoya, which is milk reduced to the consistency of a soft dough. Modern recipes call for dried/powdered milk instead of Khoya. It is often garnished with dried nuts such as almonds to enhance flavour.
|Alternative names||Gulab Jaman (Northern India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka), Lal Mohan (North India/Nepal), Kalo jam (Bangladesh), Golap Jam (Eastern India/Bangladesh), Gulaf Zam (Sylhet, Bangladesh), Gulaabujaanu in Maldives|
|Place of origin||Indian subcontinent|
|Region or state||Indian subcontinent, Mauritius, Fiji, southern and eastern Africa, the Caribbean, the Malay Peninsula|
|Serving temperature||Hot, cold, or room temperature|
|Main ingredients||Khoa, saffron|
|Variations||Pantua, Kala jamun also known as Kalajam|
In the Indian subcontinent, milk and cheese solids are prepared by heating milk over a low flame for a long time until the water content has evaporated and only the milk solids remain. These milk solids, known as khoya, are kneaded into a dough, with a small amount of flour (maida), and then shaped into small balls and deep-fried in oil or ghee (clarified butter) at a low temperature of about 148 °C till they get their familiar golden brown color. If the balls are cooked quickly, they will be raw on the inside. The fried balls are then soaked in a light sugar syrup flavored with green cardamom and rose water, kewra or saffron.
Gulab jamun was first prepared in medieval India, derived from a fritter that Central Asian Turkic invaders brought to India. One theory claims that it was accidentally prepared by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's personal chef.
The word "Gulab" is derived from the Persian words gol (flower) and āb (water), referring to the rose water-scented syrup. "Jamun" or "jaman" is the Hindustani word for Syzygium jambolanum, an Indian fruit with a similar size and shape, commonly known as black plum. Jamun is also defined as a fried delicacy in sugar syrup. The Arab dessert luqmat al-qadi is similar to gulab jamun, although it uses a different batter. According to the culinary historian Michael Krondl, both luqmat al-qadi and gulab jamun may have derived from a Persian dish, with rose water syrup being a common connection between the two.
Gulab jamun is a dessert often eaten at festivals, birthdays or major celebrations such as marriages, the Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the Hindu festival of Diwali (the Indian festival of light). There are various types of gulab jamun and every variety has a distinct taste and appearance.
Gulab jamun gets its brownish red colour because of the sugar content in the milk powder (khoya). In other types of gulab jamun, sugar is added in the batter, and after frying, the sugar caramelization gives it its dark, almost black colour, which is then called kala jam or "black jam". The sugar syrup may be replaced with (slightly) diluted maple syrup for a gulab jamun.
Homemade gulab jamun is usually made up of powdered milk, a pinch of all-purpose flour (optional), baking powder and clarified butter (ghee); kneaded to form a dough, moulded into balls, deep fried and dropped into simmering sugar syrup.
Pantua is similar to gulab jamun, and could be called a Bengali variant of that dish. Ledikeni, a variation of Pantua, is another variant of gulab jamun. It is said[by whom?] to have been invented by Bhim Chandra Nag on the occasion of a visit by Lady Canning, the wife of Charles Canning, the Governor-General of India during 1856-62.
Katangi, a town near Jabalpur is famous for "Jhurre Ka Rasgulla", which has been made there for the past 100 years. It is several times the size of normal gulab jamuns and is prepared in local desi ghee.
In Rajasthan, instead of soaking gulab jamun balls in sugar syrup, they are cooked in gravy made from nuts and tomato to make popular Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi.
In Bangladesh, Pantua is available almost everywhere throughout the country, which can be referred to a Bengali variation of Gulab jamun. Also there are two kinds of jamuns that are famous. They are Golap Jam (গোলাপ জাম) and Kalo Jam (কালো জাম).
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