Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gulab Jamun

I remember of a simpler time when there was no flyover on Deccan Gymkhana, no Stock Exchange above the P.M.T bus stop and Chitale Bandhu was just a milkman. That’s right, Chitale bandhu had just a humble little store selling milk and milk products nestled snugly between Hong Kong lane and an HP petrol pump. Living in Pune, Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale is an integral part of life, especially on holidays and during festivals. The smiling face of the 'kobra" Chitale behind the counter is still fresh in my memory. It has been in the family for many generations, but recently they have branched out into franchises. It was inevitable with the vagabond younger generation of Chitales. (They are friends of mine so I can say that).

I remember that the line for sweets would stretch from Chitale all the way up to Lucky restaurant the day before a festival. Young and old alike would stand in the sweltering heat with tins to take home a litre of Basundi. I also remember celebrating the mediocrity of my SSC and HSC results among the local junta with some rather expensive Pedhas from Chitale. Today Chitale is not just the little family owned store, but a big brand. Whenever I go home, I always return to the US with a few staples from Chitale Bandhu. Bakarwadi, Coconut Burfi, Batata Chivda and Pedhas. One of my other favourites from Chitale are the Gulab Jamuns. I have tried to get my California bred girlfriend (and now fiancé) to like Gulab Jamuns. We have tried many varieties and different restaurants all over New York, but so far the appeal of a calorie filled, deep fried ball of fat has eluded her. But I won't give up till she finally gets on board with these red balls of goodness.

1lb Khoa
(Make Khoa by kneading evapourated milk and dry whole milk powder in a 2:1 ratio till it is a stiff mixture. Wrap khoa in Muslin and steam for a few minutes. Allow to cool and sour for a few hours. However, if you live in India, this can be purchased at most sweet stores or a dairy)

3/4 cup Maida (All Purpose Flour)
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
4 tbsp Milk
1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
Few Strands of Saffron
2 Cups Sugar
Ghee for deep frying

Make thick sugar syrup with sugar and water.
The syrup should make strings (dhaga) when a dipped spoon is removed

Crumble and mix Khoa, flour, baking soda, cardamom, saffron and knead it in to a dough using milk to soften it.
Make little balls about 1” in diameter and keep aside
Heat the ghee and reduce to a low flame
Start frying the balls till they become reddish brown evenly
Drop the balls in the sugar syrup while it is still somewhat warm

Allow the syrup to soak in the Jamuns. These do not need to be frozen.
Microwave 5-6 in a bowl for 30 sec before serving.