Wheat Halwa, Savory Mixture, Balushai, Gulab Jamun, Theratti Paal, Maida Savory Biscuits, Thattai... these were just some of the items my mom made in huge quantities especially for Deepavali. She made it all with such enthusiasm and care that I look back in awe... mainly to share it all with friends, family and staff. We'd have tins and tins of leftovers after generous distribution, and snack on these goodies till pretty much New Year's every year!
I am not as adept or patient as my mom, however. So, we celebrated Deepavali: Festival of Lights in a simple way at home just a few days ago. I made the traditional family meal for Deepavali: pearl onion arachu vitta sambar, simple potato curry, thayir pachadi* and semiya payasam†
*thayir pachadi - raita like yogurt-based side-dish which has many interesting variations in south Indian cuisine that I'd like to dedicate a separate post to it someday.
†semiya payasam - a sweet dish made with roasted vermicelli, milk and sugar, recipe to come
But, just to stretch myself one little baby step at a time, I threw in Gulab Jamun to the festivities this year.
A few years ago, D gifted me this wonderful cookbook Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi.
I treasure this book and refer to it for some authentic recipes that can be made from scratch easily with readily-available ingredients.
I love the little anecdotes and reminiscences the author scatters throughout the book while discovering and learning the recipes from royal families and temple cooks in India, some of which apparently were guarded for centuries. Makes me wonder how she got them to part with the recipes to share with the whole world...
Anyway, I usually follow the Gulab Jamun recipe given in this book rather than buying a boxed mix from Indian stores. I have nothing against the boxed mixes - I personally have tried Gits™ Gulab Jamun mix a few times and it turned out quite well. But, Yamuna Devi's recipe seems more satisfying to make... as always, I made one or two minor variations to the given recipe without significant change in taste :)
2½ cups water
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp Rose water
1 or 2 pods of cardamom
2 cups instant nonfat dried milk powder
1½ Tbsp self-rising flour
½ cup warm milk, as needed
1 tsp ghee or unsalted butter
Ghee or Oil for deep frying (I simply used canola oil)
- Syrup:Bring the sugar and water to a boil over moderate heat, stir well till sugar dissolves, raise the heat to high and boil for about 4-5 minutes; off heat stir in rose water and crushed cardamom pod, set aside
- heat sufficient oil for deep frying to a moderate 225°F - if oil is too hot, the outside will char and darken before the inside is cooked
- combine the jamun ingredients, adding a little of the milk at a time till the dough comes together soft and pliable
- grease your palms and pinch off small portions of the dough and roll into about 24 balls
- deep fry in batches till golden brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside, controlling the oil temperature appropriately as needed
- gently drop the fried balls into the syrup and allow them to sit for at least 2 hours before serving; refrigerate if serving cold