Make Homemade Gulab Jamun with Pancake Mix
In Cheap tips we’ll help you get the most out of supermarket staples. Today how to make gulab jamun with pancake mix.
One of the greatest South Asian dessert delicacies is gulab jamun. They’re syrupy, bite-sized deep-fried treats, often lightly flavored with cardamom or rosewater, and they’re a mainstay: gulab jamun can be found sealed in sticky boxes in southern grocery stores -Asian, late lunch time Indian restaurants. buffets, or freshly fried and swimming in thick sugar syrup in confectioneries. In my house, every occasion – potlucks, celebrations, family reunions, Indian festivals – was always preceded by my mother’s homemade gulab jamun. But the problem with making them yourself: the way it’s done traditionally may be inaccessible to the home cook. Enter the Bisquick hack.
Although there are many regional variations, gulab jamun is usually made with khoya, the milk solids left over after simmering whole milk until all the liquid has evaporated. When my parents first moved to the United States in the early 90s, khoya wasn’t as readily available (nor was there a conveniently located South Asian grocery store). Because milk must be slowly simmered and constantly stirred to make excellent khoya, preparing it at home is time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Enterprising immigrant home cooks discovered the magic of the mixture of powdered milk and pancake mix that eerily replicated khoya when fried: a slightly squeaky, not quite mushy, tender texture of gulab jamun which is a sponge for sugar syrup. The whipped cream hydrated milk powder takes on the qualities of khoya, while the pancake mix adds enough structure and yeast to hold up in the fryer.
Aunties shared recipes together at house parties or scribbled them on post-its as rough ratios and passed them around at work. Pancake mix and powdered milk have become common shorthand for sweets made from khoya. My memory of gulab jamun has always been my mother patiently rolling batches of sticky dough into perfect spheres, the smell of hot oil as they fried, and the sight of them rocking up and down in pans of simple syrup. Now, no store-bought gulab jamun has the same nostalgia for me as the Bisquick and powdered milk ones I grew up on.
This is how to make gulab jamun
Mix together 1 ½ cup powdered milk with ½ cup pancake mix, such as Bisquick, until they are combined. Work in about ½ cup heavy whipped cream until a dense, sticky dough forms. Roll the dough into a sausage shape, then section it and roll it into about 18 to 20 smooth balls. Keep them firmly covered with a damp paper towel while you work on the next steps – it’s important to make sure they don’t dry out.
Make a simple sugar syrup in a large saucepan by heating 3 cups of water and 3 cups granulated sugar. Then add an aroma of your choice; my favorites are whole cardamom pods, a pinch of saffron or a little rose water. Boil until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup lightly sticks to the back of a spoon. Put aside.
Heat a neutral oil like vegetable oil in a large skillet at 350 degrees, and fry the batter, about 4-5 balls at a time, stirring and turning constantly with a slotted spoon to brown evenly. It will take about 60 seconds. Immediately remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon and add them to the sugar syrup you have reserved. Once they are all immersed in the sugar syrup, they are technically ready to serve, but they taste better after 30 minutes to an hour of soaking. Enjoy it hot or at room temperature, or take it out of the pan before guests arrive.