B’Tayavon! This Hanukkah treat hails from India

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Trending News

Eitan Altshuler shares his version and twists on a dessert recipe not widely used in America for Hanukkah

Beyond the classics, there are more than a few days over Hanukkah to enjoy a variety of fried foods. The Jews of India like to celebrate by making Gulab Jamun, a milk fritter soaked in cardamom/rose syrup.

Unlike latkes, this dish is neither energy- nor time-consuming to make from scratch. For the dough, you want a somewhat sticky consistency, but after a minute or two, it will absorb more of the liquid and become more manageable.

When frying the dough, don’t look away. If the oil is too hot, the jamun balls will burn in a hot second. With my burner on medium, I check the temperature of my oil with an instant thermometer, keeping it somewhere between 315–330º F, and I suggest first putting one jamun ball in to test.

Surprisingly, though, the real hero of the dish is the syrup, which I flavor with rose and cardamom, but you could get creative to whatever your liking. If you like the jamun balls on the crispy side, you could just pour a thick syrup, like honey, over them as a glaze, but traditionally, they are soaked in a thin syrup—sometimes for hours, getting a bit soggy, but packed with flavor.

As for toppings, personally, I use dried rose petals, raisins, and ground pistachio, but use your imagination – perhaps coconut shavings or powdered sugar. There are many ways to make this recipe your own.

Note: This recipe is dairy. In fact, the dough is four times more dry milk powder than flour. I have not made a vegan/pareve version before, but there are many vegan recipes very different from this one. However, I imagine it might be possible with coconut milk powder, margarine, and coconut milk as substitutes.

Gulab Jamun

Eitan Altshuler

Cook Time: < 5 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 130 per serving


For the fritters

Nonfat dry milk powder—

Unbleached all-purpose flour—½ cup

Baking soda—½ teaspoon

Unsalted butter (melted)—6 tablespoons

Milk—½ cup

Oil for frying (2–3″ deep)

For the glaze

Sugar—2 cups

Water—2 cups

Cardamom—½ teaspoon ground (about 5 pods)

Rose Water—to taste, drizzled on afterward or incorporated in the syrup


Start with the glaze:

1. Bring water to simmer and dissolve the sugar.

2. Add the cardamom. Keep the syrup simmering till it thickens a little. Watch it because if it’s too thick, the jamun balls won’t be able to absorb the liquidy syrup.

For the fritters:

3. Mix the dry ingredients. Then, add the melted butter, making it crumbly.

4. Add milk gradually. Lightly knead, and form a smooth dough. Divide into small balls.

5. Fry the dough balls in a deep-sided pan with 2-3” of oil at 315-330F. Fry the first one alone as a test. Watch very carefully. Balls should be amber when done. Transfer to paper towels and let cool.

6. Drown fritters in hot syrup in a separate bowl. Plate to serve, drizzle rose water on top and garnish with whatever you like. Some people keep their jamun balls soaking for hours before serving.

Eitan Altshuler is with the Cardo Café at the Sandler Family Campus where he is creating an Israeli menu. He spent more than eight years in Israel.