This blog is inspired by people, places and memories. Recipes created by friends or at our own humble kitchen. Totally unplanned, this post comes as a sudden spurt as we go to our friends house for lunch. The Nevatias are Marwaris from Kolkata. Originating from the former princely state of Marwar, in the Rajasthan area in India, Marwaris have traditionally been traders and have migrated to many places in India (read here). The Marwaris have a strong connection in Kolkata - the major industrialists and entrepreneurs in Bengal belonging to this community.Unfortunately our Marwari friends have less to do with Marwar and more to do with Bengalis – either because of our strong influence or they have been plain subjugated! Our freezer has a separate vegetarian compartments just for them. So if we have managed to sacrifice so much (imagine how much meat, poultry and probably fish would have occupied that space), can’t we expect at-least this much from them – provide us with shudh/pure Vegetarian Indian food as well as some awesome western Concoction?Mrs Nevatia makes fabulous desserts though Mr Nevatia never ceases to complain ‘Tum mere liye kuch bhi nehi banate ho/You hardly cook anything for me!’ This is proof that not only does she cook up some fabulous food but also is generous enough to share the recipe for my post. Yesterday’s lunch at their place saw me clicking away to glory. The dessert was fantastic. And their dining table provided a setup that I completely adore – traditional wooden antique – with rough texture and a whole lot of asymmetry grooved in.This is also an ode to Claire’s Things We Make, a blog that inspires me visually. I salivate on the wooden tops she composes her food-shots on. And I always leave comments about her table-tops rather than the food shots. Once that led her to reply to one of my comments – ‘You are completely obsessed with my wood’!
Yes, I am. May I also admit that the look of your blog inspired me to choose this Inuit Theme from WordPress when I was setting up my blog? It’s a different matter altogether that I’ve turned the theme upside down to make it look the way it looks now. But then that’s my character – to turn things upside down! Claire, this post is to let you know that ‘I’ve found my own WOOD’. Only thing is it’s located 30 kms away from my house!
If you want to gain 5kgs instantly by eating one Indian Dessert – that would definitely be this! Rabri is made by boiling the milk on low heat for a very long time until it becomes dense. Sugar, spices and nuts are added to it to give it flavor. Rabri is the main ingredient in several Indian desserts.
Calcutta Rabri (the picture below): This famous version of the Rabri hails from Calcutta. As the sweetened milk starts boiling, a layer of cream begins to form on the surface of the milk. That is taken off and kept aside. Repeated process of the same results in the Calcutta Rabri – layers and layers of cream floating in sweetened and thickened milk. Needless to say this is extremely rich and creamy and is bound to be heavy on the stomach and extremely fattening! (More here)
How to prepare Rabri?
For the printable recipe→
Serves 6-8 persons (maybe less if they happen to be sweet-toothed Bengalis!)
Preparation time – 1 hr 15 minutes maximum (Making the Rabri – 1 – 1hr 30 minutes)
Full Cream Milk – 1 Lt
Sugar – 4 tbsp (Many prefer to use sweetened condense milk – in that case you will not need any sugar. This takes less time as well. However, I prefer using Sugar and stirring the Milk for longer – I like the non-smooth texture the Rabri forms)
Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon Powder – 1/2 tsp
Almond Flakes – 4 tsp
Rose Water – 1 tsp, optional
Method of Preparation
- Boil the Milk in a Dekchi/a flat bottomed non-stick pan (Dekchis are usually used for cooking Rice. Please note that any dessert using Milk is always made in utensils meant for cooking Rice or kept separately and hasn’t been used for any other type of cooking. This is because of it’s susceptibility to catching the smell of other cooked items. Constant stirring is required so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t get burnt)
- Add the Sugar, Cardamom and Cinnamon and keep on stirring till the Milk is almost halved and changes it’s colour
- Add the Rose Water at the last
Rabri is generally refrigerated and served as a cool dessert with preferred garnishing of Pistachios or Almond Flakes. You can serve this Rabri as a complete dessert as well. But here, we’ll further bake it along with Gulab Jamuns. So we leave it as it is.
Gulab Jamun is a common dessert common in many countries in the Indian subcontinent – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. The name originates from the Persian word Gulab meaning rose, as a rosewater syrup is often used to make Gulab Jamun. Jamun refers to the Jambul fruit because of their resemblance to the latter.
Gulab Jamun is quite a versatile dessert and is made in most Indian celebrations such as marriages etc and is also associated with both Hindi festivals like Diwali (the Indian festival of light) and the Muslim celebrations of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adhaat. There are various types and regional variations of Gulab Jamun with every variety having a distinct taste. (More here)
For the printable recipe→
How to prepare Gulab Jamun?
Traditionally, Gulab Jamuns are made with Khoya (reduced solidified milk – either dried whole milk or milk thickened by heating in an open iron pan), is rolled into a ball together with some flour and then deep fried at a low temperature of about 148°C. These balls are then put into a flavoured sugar syrup. The recipe below has been modified a bit but essentially follows from here.
Preparation time – 1 hr – 1 hr 30 minutes; (Making the Sheera – 45 minutes; Making the Dough – 10 minutes; Frying – 30 minutes)
Yield: About 20-24 Gulab Jamuns depending upon the size
Khoya – 1-1/2 cups (For preparing the Khoya at home, click here)
Maida/Flour (all purpose flour) – 1 cup
Sugar – 3 cups
Water – 1 cup
Cooking/Baking Soda – 3 pinches ( 1 pinch would be 1/8th of tsp )
Cardamom – 4 pods or 1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
Saffron – 1/2 tsp
Rose water/essence – 2-3 drops
Ghee/White Oil – for deep frying (Ghee and Oil can be taken in half proportion)
Method of Preparation
The Sugar Syrup
- Combine sugar and water in a flat bottomed broad pan and simmer on a low heat until sugar dissolves
- Add cardamom powder, rose essence and saffron and keep on stirring
- Mix the homemade Khova, Flour and the cooking soda
- Knead all of them together into a smooth dough
- Form small smooth balls from this dough (The size has to be smaller than small limes since they will become large while deep frying and even larger when soaked in syrup. Make sure that there are no cracks in the balls since this will cause the Jamuns to disintegrate while soaked in the syrup)
- Heat Ghee/Oil in a Wok
- Deep fry the Gulab Jamuns until golden brown over low to medium flame, keeping oil temperature uniform
- Once they get uniformly brown on all the sides, remove them from the oil making sure to drain the excess oil and drop them straightaway into the warm Sheera/Sugar Syrup. The hot Gulab Jamuns in the warm syrup (not hot) helps them to soak the syrup well making them soft (Deep frying 3-4 Gulab Jamuns together may bring down the temperature of the Ghee/Oil resulting in soggy, uncooked Gulab Jamuns.
- Let the Gulab Jamuns soak in the Sheera/Sugar Syrup for at least 1 -2 hours
Baked Gulab Jamun Rabri
Category – Dessert; Cuisine type – Indian
Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth -
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!
Method of Preparation
- In a small dessert bowl, place 1 Gulab Jamun, halved
- Pour 3 tablespoon of Rabri on top, let it settle down
- Put in an oven and bake for 15 minutes at a temperature of 200° F (no need to pre-heat)
- Garnish with Almond Flakes
- Serve hot and fresh from the oven
What is the difference between Gulab Jamun and the Bengali Kalo Jaam & Pantua?
Bengal is famous for it’s sweets. A subject that I have already delved with varied intensity in many of my posts (Traditional Bengali Cuisine, Rôshogolla or Rasgulla – Bengali’s Own Sweet, Bengali Sweets That Came By Parcel!). Pantua (right) and Kalo Jaam (left) are two Bengali sweets that most people often compare with Gulab Jamuns. But there is a difference between them in the way they have are prepared. Gulab Jamuns has only Khoya. Pantua has Khoya mixed with Channa/Indian Cottage Cheese (Ricotta Cheese). They are soft and spongy and are similar to Rôshogolla/Rasgullas where the balls of Channa/Cottage Cheese are fried in Ghee/Indian Clarified Butter or oil until they are slightly golden. These balls are then soaked in sugar syrup. Pantuas are deep fried in Ghee to make Kalo Jaam where the coating turns hard and almost black.
Incidentally an entire family of Bengali Sweets have branched out of Pantua. Channar Jilipi, Chitrakoot (diamond shaped variant of the same), Lyangcha (elongated sausage shaped variant), Ledikeni (like very small sausages) and many more. The latter was created in honour of Lady Canning (wife of Lord Canning, the then Governor General to India) by Bhim Nag, a renowned sweets maker in Kolkata (Info Courtesy: Wikipedia)!
The sweet photo-journey of my friend’s creation – Baked Gulab Jamun Rabri…
Many calories and many satisfying sighs later, I start downloading the pictures immediately. Yes, this is one dessert that will satisfy the Bengali tooth of even the most staunchest of critics. And the fussy and the messy Z-SISTERS.
By the way, easy ready to make packs of Gulab Jamuns are easily available in most supermarkets in Dubai. Cooking should be fun. If this seems too arduous then the whole objective of writing this post is wasted. Who said there is no fun if you bought the Gulab Jamuns from any sweet shop? Specially when there are so many good sweet shops available in Dubai? Or if driving down to Karama seems arduous as well, get the tinned Gulab Jamuns. As long as they are Baked Gulab Jamun Rabri and tastes this divine, who cares if it is bought from the Sweet Shops or dug out from the tins!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here. Chappan Bhog, Bikanerwala, Puranmal are just a few examples of very good sweet shops in Dubai. Most are located on Trade Centre Road in Karama and you may find all details from the internet.
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You may also enjoy reading the following Travel Banters:
The Abandoned Women Amidst Many Prayers, Kathmandu, Nepal
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