A dry variation of the syrup-drenched Indian gulab jamun, this sweet dumpling is a favourite dessert among South African Indians. There’s no doubt this golden, sugar-crusted delicacy will win its way into your heart as well.
- ½ cup (80 g) coarse semolina
- 190 ml condensed milk
- 1¼ cups (185 g) plain flour
- 3 tsp melted ghee (clarified butter) (see Note)
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp milk (optional)
- 2 cups ghee (clarified butter) for deep-frying (see Note)
- 2 cups (440 g) white sugar
- ¾ cup (180 ml) water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
In a large bowl, mix the semolina and condensed milk together with a wooden spoon. Add the flour, ghee, cardamom, and baking powder. Gently mix with your hands until you have a soft dough – be careful not to knead or squash the dough, or you’ll end up with dense, hard jamboos. When you’re done, the dough should still be a little sticky. If it’s too dry, add a teaspoon of milk.
Next, prepare your sugar syrup. Bring the sugar and water to boil in a small saucepan or kadhai (an Indian cooking bowl) over medium heat, and stir until the sugar is dissolved, bring to a low boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Once the syrup becomes a little sticky, remove the saucepan from heat. (Note: the syrup should not be tacky. To test, take a little syrup in a spoon and carefully test it between your forefinger and thumb, being careful not to burn yourself. Your fingers should not stick together, but feel slimy.) Allow to cool for 15 minutes while you move onto the next step.
Lay a sheet of baking paper on the bench-top, about 40 cm long. Pinch a piece of dough about the size of a 20-cent piece and roll between the palms of your hands until you have a log, the width and length of your thumb, tapered on each end. Place this on your baking paper, and continue until you have used up all the dough.
In another small saucepan or kadhai, heat about two cups of ghee over low heat. (Depending on the size of your saucepan, you may need more ghee. It should be deep enough so that the jamboos will float to the top and not rest at the bottom, otherwise they’ll burn). Care should be taken to maintain the temperature at a constant 140°C (if you don’t have a cooking thermometer, take a tiny piece of dough and test it in the ghee – if it starts to sizzle, it’s reached the right temperature; if it turns dark brown immediately, it’s too hot). Place seven or eight jamboos in the pot, or as many as will fit without touching. Be careful not to drop the jamboos in, or the ghee will splash up and burn you. (If you’re using a kadhai, you can slide them down the side of the bowl without placing your fingers near the oil.)
Cook the jamboos until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes), rolling them a few times to ensure they cook evenly on all sides. Don’t be concerned when they split, this is how they should be. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well against the side of the pot.
Place immediately in the sugar syrup, quickly rolling each one to coat thoroughly in syrup before draining well with another slotted spoon. (Make sure you drain well, or they’ll stick to the baking paper instead of easily lifting off when dry.) Place on the baking paper to dry. Repeat until all jamboos are cooked.
When the jamboos are completely dry, store them in an airtight container. They should last two weeks, if you can resist eating them all at once!
• You should be able to find ghee (clarified butter) in the Asian isle of your local supermarket, otherwise substitute with oil. Kadhais are available from larger Indian grocery stores, or from an online shop.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto. Food preparation by Nick Banbury and Cynthia Black.