I’m about to tell you about this recipe where just 1 of the ingredients takes 3 hours to make.
Hello? Is anyone still out there?
Let me back up. Happy Diwali! Diwali may mean fireworks and candles and new beginnings to some folk. To me it means, make all the food you can…from scratch. No shortcuts for Diwali; only the most traditional. So I picked my favorite Indian sweet, that was decidedly the most time consuming to make, cleared my schedule for the day, made it, devoured it, and wished that I had made another batch of the 3 hour ingredient, because we all wanted more. So I made it again the next day. Because it’s Diwali, after all.
Don’t you worry, friends. I’ll give you a short cut recipe for when you do try this. Because you should most definitely try this. Think of this as reversed doughnuts: an unsweetened dough dropped in a sugar syrup with a hint of rose and saffron, in order for it to get all soaked up, served warmed. Sounds divine, doesn’t it? Make the short cut version – it will be tasty, I’m sure. But try the real deal during Diwali – it’s supposed to be that way. A very happy new year to all!
Gulab Jamun (adapted from here)
As much as cardamom is considered an Indian spice, and even though I love it in my spice cookies and breads, I don’t really care for it in my Indian sweets. But if you prefer that punch, add 1/4 tsp cardamom powder to the dough and knead it in.
For the shortcut version, use dry milk powder instead of the mawo. Mix the dry ingredients together and then gradually add milk until a dough forms. You can follow the remaining instructions after that.
1 batch mawo (recipe to follow)
1 cup all purpose flour
scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
ghee, oil, or a mix for frying
1-2 teaspoons rose water
5-6 strands saffron
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
Knead together the mawo, flour and baking soda (and cardamom, if using) until the dough is completely smooth. Form tablespoon-size balls. Roll each ball until it’s completely smooth – no cracks should be on the surface of these balls. Heat ghee or oil until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the dough balls, about 4-5 at a time, until they are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Combine the sugar and water in a medium pot. Heat on medium heat until sugar is completely melted and dissolved. Turn the heat to low and add the rose water and saffron. Turn heat off.
Add the fried dough to the pot with the sugar syrup. Transfer everything to a serving bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, to let the dough soak the sugar. You can serve this at room temperature, or slightly warmed.
Mawo (recipe from here)
1/2 gallon whole milk
Heat the milk, in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until it comes to a boil, and then turn the heat to low/medium-low. Keep an eye on the milk as it thickens. It will need a stir every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, or burn. Eventually, after about 2 hours, there will be minimal liquid left. Keep stirring until you have a very dry mixture.
It will start by looking like this:
And will end, about 3.5 hours later, looking like this: