The 12 Dishes of Christmas #10

Gulab Jambu and the Sweet Festival

It’s the weekend before Christmas  and all through the house….not a creature was stirring except Ollie Sheldrick who’s been in the kitchen since November.

Here we are with number 9 of our 12 dishes of Christmas. If this is the fist post you’ve seen, then we highly recommend you head back to #1 to get a full introduction, and see the rest of the menu. But for these of you that decide to stay, there’s an traditional Indian Diwali dish in store…

This Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’ is all about celebrating with family, performing traditional activities in their homes.

A photo of Gulab Jambu
Gulab Jambu

Traditions of Diwali, including the culinary, do vary as it is celebrated by such a large population of people across the world. However one tradition that is widespread is the making of sweets. In many areas of India, such as the state of Kerala  it is common for the younger members of the family to make huge amounts of these sweets and share them out in the community. Gulab Jambu is one such dish, and has huge popularity across the Indian sub-continent. It is also a sweet that has traveled across the globe, becoming part of Middle Eastern Eid celebrations. As such is it’s diversity, it would make a perfect end to almost any celebration meal.


For the dough balls

225g/8oz powdered milk
110g/4oz plain flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
350ml/12fl oz milk
25g/1oz butter, melted
vegetable oil, for deep frying

For the sugar syrup

200g/7oz caster sugar
100ml/3½fl oz water
few strands saffron

To serve

1 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
1 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted in a pan

Preparation method

1.  For the dough balls, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, adding enough extra water to form a soft, sticky dough. Cover with cling film and set aside for 10 minutes. Shape the dough into small round balls.
2.  Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed frying pan. It is ready when a breadcrumb dropped in will sizzle gently in it. Deep fry the balls until golden brown, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper to drain.
3.  Make a sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water together with the saffron until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is syrupy.
4.  When the dough balls are cool, add to the syrup and leave to soak for about 1 hour.
5.  Garnish with chopped pistachio nuts and flaked almonds and serve.

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