Food from the World: Gulab Jamun

I first came across the concept of Indian food while reading Of Customs and Excise , a collection of short stories written by Mara Rachna. It deals with the mixture between the Occidental and Hindu culture and it puts focus on the way in which these two cultures are forced to interact and on the way in which they strive to coexist.

The Indian gastronomy is an interesting topic discussed there and which is often seen by Occidentals in a peculiar manner. Gulab Jamun is a type of Indian sweet dish that combines different flavors like rosewater, cardamom or saffron and represents an important part of the Indian history.

What is Gulab Jamun?

This sweet looks like a donut hole (personally, I think it looks more like a pickled plum, but I’m no specialist) made of milk that has been previously boiled to a solid state. This is mixed with flour and fried thoroughly until it gets a beautiful dark brown color. It is served with sugar syrup and flavored with various spices.

A little bit of history

Photo source: manjulaskitchen.com
Photo source: manjulaskitchen.com

Gulab Jamun was brought by Mughals, a people who enjoyed exquisite food, had tigers and peacocks as pets and loved to live it up in luxury. This type of dish was introduced into the Mughal Empire from Persia and it was originally made with honey. Nowadays. Gulab Jamun is by far the favorite sweet present at festivities and weddings. Legends say that the ones who enjoy this type of sweets are of course the children who often eat as much as 20-30 jamuns in their little stomachs. Who could say no to that, really?

Variations

Gulab Jamun hasn’t preserved its immaculate state from its beginnings. On the contrary, it has been adapted to the desires and traditions of different regions. Therefore, nowadays there are jamuns coated with sugar right before the frying process, jamuns made with coconut or sweet potatoes.

Where to eat good Gulab Jamun?

New Delhi: Bikanervala, Aggarwal, Haldiram’s or Nathu.

Mumbai: Bhagatram Sweets, Jhama Sweets, Sweet Bengal, the Bombay Sweet House and Kailash Parbat.

Bangalore: Sri Venkateshwara Sweetmeat Stall, Anand Sweets, and Mishti.

And if you want to make your own Gulab Jamun, check the following video in which a nice lady teaches you how to prepare it with milk powder. Yammy!

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