Kneaded khoya and maida deep fried balls, with a sticky and super sweet cardamom-flavoured chashni, gulab jamun is truly an irresistible sweet that we all love. Gulab jamun, jalebi, modak, halwa, kheer or payasam are sweets which are loved by almost all Indians. They are the pride of India, and an India without these sweets just cannot be imagined! But what if I were to tell you that our favourite dear deep fried and super sweet gulab jamun isn’t Indian?
Yes, you heard it right! Gulab jamun is not Indian!
Then where is it from? And what is its story? Lets find out!
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Legend says that this dish was accidently ‘invented’ by Shah Jahan’s royal chef, who took inspiration from the Persian and Turkish sweet traditions as well as the local halwais. The Persian bamieh and the Turkish tulumba are actually pretty similar to the gulab jamun. They are deep fried doughnuts dipped in rose and sugar syrup. But these dishes are served cold.
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It is said that the Persians brought this dish to India in the form of deep fried sweet fritters. But we Indianized it! The cardamom and the khoya were added to suit the taste buds. Also the fritters were made round. The name gulab jamun actually came from ‘gulab’, the Persian word for rosewater, as it was served with rose syrup, and jamun, which is a tiny fruit, and the fritters were shaped this way.
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Yet another legend compares this dish to the Arabic dish luqmat al qadi, which consists of deep fried dough balls with honey and sprinkled with sugar. The batter varies a lot from the Indian version, so this legend isn’t considered the very likely story of gulab jamun.
Over time, gulab jamun has become one of the most popular dishes in the country. Now it has its own local variations like pantua, ledikini, katangi, etc. Indians have adopted and loved this dish, and its popularity has only grown over the passage of time.
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Though Gulab jamun may not have originated in India, it is one of the most popular Indian dishes, and people associate gulab jamun with India all over the world.
Well, now my mouth’s watering! Lets get some gulab jamun ASAP!