SUJI GULAB JAMUN – सूजी गुलाब जामुन (Semolina Donuts in Saffron Syrup)


An Indian festival is incomplete without the presence of the fragrant, melt in the mouth and syrupy Gulab Jamun! And why would Holi be any different. Although I have shared a recipe for Gulab Jamun earlier, made with whipped cream and milk powder, today I am sharing gulab jamuns made with rava / suji / semolina. I love desserts made with semolina / suji. My recipe of saffron infused Suji Halwa (it’s the best, trust me) along with the Pineapple Kesari (Pineapple Semolina Pudding) and the Suji Phirni and also the eggless Caramel Semolina Pudding, and a few others besides some savoury semolina posts, will convince anyone of my love for suji. So, me posting suji gulab jamun should come as no surprise.

When I first made these gulab jamuns I had to throw away quite a number of batches because I was facing issues such as dough balls disintegrating as soon as I added them to the oil or them developing cracks and bursting open in the oil. When these issues got resolved, then occurred the problem of dough balls deflating and losing their shape as they began soaking in the syrup besides them getting this thick weird kind of skin. It was kind of exasperating and I wanted to give up trying but I also wanted to know where I was going wrong. It is rare that I mess up a recipe.

So, I had used this recipe provided by a popular Indian chef but it failed me again and again. I knew the recipe needed tweaking and I was suggested by someone to add mawa to the dough since semolina gets crisp when it fries and the dough therefore requires some richness, which the mawa would provide. I brushed aside the suggestion of mawa since I was sure that the star chef’s recipe won’t fail but obviously such was not the case. Anyways, all is well, that ends well. The recipe is easy but a little tricky so do check all the dos and don’ts, at the end of the post, for making perfect suji gulab jamun.

For Dough

½ C fine textured Semolina / bareek Suji

¾ – 1 tsp soft Desi Ghee (check notes)

1½ C Milk

2 tbsp Milk Powder or grated Mawa / Khoya

A small pinch Saffron strands (optional)

A small pinch Cardamom Powder (optional)

2 tsp Maida (all-purpose flour)

Desi Ghee or Cooking Oil for deep frying

For Syrup

1½ C Water

1½ C Sugar

A pinch Saffron

¼ tsp Green Cardamom Powder


Before you begin with the recipe, I suggest you go through the instructions and also the notes at the end of the post to pull-off the recipe successfully. 

Take a sauce pan and heat water in it along with the sugar. Keep stirring the contents to dissolve the sugar (will take approx two and a half minutes on high heat). Stir in the cardamom powder and saffron. Reduce heat, cover the pan and allow the contents to simmer on low heat. (should take you about four and half minutes to reach the right consistency) Take the lid off and check for the consistency of the syrup. It needs to just thicken but have no one-string consistency. Remove the pan from heat and keep it covered it. Set it aside.

Heat a pan and roast the semolina on low heat for approximately four minutes. Remove it from the pan and set it aside.

Place a sauce pan (preferably non-stick) on high heat and add ghee to it, followed by milk. Once the milk is hot, reduce the heat to minimum. Stir in the milk powder or khoya (which ever you are using) along with saffron and green cardamom powder. Gradually add the semolina while quickly and continuously whisking to avoid formation of lumps. Use a spatula for this job and not a balloon whisk. Break down any lumps.

Keep stirring the contents till the semolina absorbs all the milk and comes together as a thick mass. It will take a few seconds for this process. Immediately remove from heat. (Once the dough has come together, do not cook it any further)

Decant the semolina onto a plate or thali and allow it to cool down a bit. Add the maida and begin to knead the dough while it is slightly warm. Knead for five to six minutes or till the dough is soft and smooth in consistency. Pinch the dough and make balls of the size you desire (small sized dough balls work best for these gulab jamun)

Heat ghee in a frying pan (I prefer using a kadahi / wok) on medium low heat and add the dough balls. (Fry the dough balls in two to three batches, depending on the size of your frying pan) Very carefully and very very gently rock the frying pan so that the balls do not stick to the bottom of the pan or to each other.

After ten to fifteen seconds, gently flip them to cook evenly and keep gently tossing them around in the ghee for even frying. Fry till they turn golden brown in colour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the balls from ghee or oil and immediately transfer them to the warm syrup.

Cover and keep them soaked for a few hours or till they plump up and soak the syrup well. I flip them after every half an hour for even soaking. Remove them from the syrup and serve.

Yield – 3 dozen small Gulab Jamun

Do not forget to check the notes at the end of the post (below this picture)

Here is what I learnt (from my mistakes) on how to make perfect suji gulab jamuns

The Dough & the Ghee

The consistency of the dough and temperature of ghee or oil extremely are important 

– Use three fourth teaspoon ghee if you are using A2 ghee else use one teaspoon of regular ghee.

– Remove the dough from the heat as soon as the semolina / suji absorbs the milk and come together as dough.  Do not attempt to go any further than this stage.

– Add either powdered milk or khoya / mawa to the dough.

– It is very important to roll smooth and crack free dough balls before frying.

– Rolling small dough balls works best for the suji gulab jamun, what we call angoori gulab jamun.

– Ensure to fry the dough balls on medium low heat. If the dough balls cook too fast ending up being raw inside and brown too fast which will lead a thick skin to form. Also, they will deflate and lose their shape when you soak them. Frying on the lower heat is the key here.

The Syrup

The consistency and temperature of the syrup is important

– Be sure that the sugar syrup is warm and not hot when you add the fried dough balls to it. The gulab jamun will break / disintegrate / dissolve in hot syrup.

– If your syrup is too thin or too hot, the gulab jamun will disintegrate in the syrup and if it has a one string consistency, they will not absorb the syrup properly. It needs to be kind of greasy and not of one string consistency – sticky but not too thick…thats how best I can describe the consistency.

Thank you for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe! 

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