Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sending Roses to the Moon (and where to find a homely girl)

Two fabulous perks that I get from attending the University of Washington Technology Management MBA program is the cultural diversity and the wonderful food that is catered in.

We are served dinner before our Wednesday night class, and we get breakfast and lunch served to us on our every-other-Saturday class. The food is catered by various restaurants and the variety is often quite diverse- anything from Brazilian to Bulgarian- it is often a great culinary experience.

Many of the students in my class are from India. Today we had an Indian buffet and it was delicious. I cannot tell you exactly what all I ate, although ingredients were identifiable as chicken, lamb, rice and spinach, also some naan bread. My favorite (as is often my favorite) was dessert pictured above: Gulab Jamun.

Those little golden balls of dough in syrup were spectacular. Two of my classmates, Dinesh and Raman spent a little time educating me on this delicacy. Dinesh said that there is a Hindi/English joke about "how do you send roses to the moon". The answer is Gulab Jamun. "Gulab" is "roses" in Hindi and "Jamun" sounds an awful lot like "the moon" in English. There are many recipes available on the web for these sweets, but the one I selected below sounds closest to Raman's description of using real milk and also rose water.

Another note, while looking these up on line, I came across this ad for an Indian matchmaking website that promotes "homely women". Apparently homely does not have the same meaning in India!

Back to the Gulab Jamun...
This recipe was taken from as submitted by "minathebrat" . She has an awesome blogspot at
Gulab Jamun

Traditional Method
1 liter milk
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
Powdered-Milk Method
2 cups powdered milk
1 1/2 tablespoons self-rising flour
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon ghee or butter
Scented Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon rose water or 1/2 teaspoon rose extract
1/2 teaspoon saffron (powdered, and optional)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder (optional)
1 lb butter, -unsalted is best but salted will work in a pinch
1To Make Ghee: Put the butter in a good saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Then reduce to low. Now this is what will happen as the butter slowly simmers. Moisture will be evaporated out of the ghee. The white protein-solids from the butter will sink down to the bottom of the pan and slowly turn golden. A foam will rise to the surface, and as it cooks will form a bit of a crust. The butter will cook into a gold color as well, and it will have a slightly nutty smell. When the moisture is gone, the ghee is done. Decant the oil and save the delicious golden buttery bits on the bottom of the pan for toast, or mixed with veggies or potatoes. If you've used salted butter, you don't want to use it on toast- the salt will knock you out, but it's still good in potatoes or whatnot.
2Making the Scented Syrup: Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add rose water or essance.
3Traditional Method: Use a heavy-bottomed pan because the milk will stick. Use a non-stick pot if you have it. Boil the milk down over medium heat, while stirring, until it forms a paste. Add the flour and mix into a smooth paste. Oil your hands and roll them into uniform balls, place them onto a buttered plate and set aside.
4Powdered-Milk Method: Combine the warm milk and ghee together. Mix the powdered milk and flour together and sprinkle slowly into the wet mix to form a dough. Oil your hands and form uniform balls (about 24) and set aside on a buttered plate.
5Cooking the jamuns:.
6This is the most delicate part of the operation. Gentle, low heat is a must. Use a wok or karai for best results, with the ghee about 2.5-3 inches in depth.
7Heat the ghee on low to 215 degrees.
8Slip in the balls, one by one. They will sink. No touching at this point.
9Gently shake the pan to move the balls and keep them from getting too brown on one side. After about 5 minutes they will begin to float. You will notice them getting bigger.
10Now, use a wooden spoon or equivalent to gently agitate and keep them evenly browning.
11The ghee will slowly get hotter as the balls cook.
12After about 20 minutes, the ghee will have risen in temperature to around 245 degrees and the balls should be nice and golden.
13Remove a ball and put it in the syrup. If it doesn't collapse after 3 minutes, remove the others and add to the syrup.
14If it does collapse, fry for another 5 minutes and try again.
15Let soak for 2 hours at least before serving.
16Serve room temperature or warmed up.
17Enjoy your gulab jamuns!

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