VEGAN Gulab Jamun – for a dairy-free indulgence that is so like the real deal, plus as a bonus re-uses almond pulp left behind after extracting milk.
Yes, I have missed eating Gulab Jamun since I turned vegan, but tasting the familiarity of this desert that brings back so many memories is second only to the feeling of triumph at being able to reuse some of that almond pulp residue that is left behind after extracting Almond milk from almonds.
When I first started making my own almond milk at home, the first thing that struck me was the amount of pulp left behind. It seemed such a waste to toss it away – sure it has no flavor, and questionable nutrition, but it has fiber, and it is still food and edible. So I started to look for ways to reuse it in other recipes.
While you can’t always find a use for it daily, you can however, freeze it for later use. It freezes and thaws quite well.
I’m kicking off my series of recipes that use almond pulp with this dairy-free VEGAN Gulab Jamun.
Gulab is a Persian word meaning ‘flower water’ and Jamun (Java plum) is an Indian fruit with black skin. This desert is called by this particular name, because of how the dumpling resembles the jamun fruit and the syrup is normally infused with the flavor of rose water.
If you’ve never tasted it before, the traditional version is made by deep-frying dumplings made from flour and milk solids (khoya), which is then simmered in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom, saffron and rose water. As the dumplings soak, they absorb the syrup and bloat into succulent softness.
Usually served one or two per person in a pool of syrup, either at room temperature, soothingly warm or even chilled, this is a very popular desert, almost a staple during celebrations and festivities.
While the milk solids (khoya) lend their characteristic decadence to this traditional desert, the plant-based version, I find, is hardly different from the original in texture. As to the taste, if you’ve been a vegan long enough, you wouldn’t miss the dairy-ness, which to me, has become a sickly flavor I am happy to live without.
All in all, this experiment was a huge success, and I am so thrilled to kill two birds with one stone: have a veganized version of a favorite desert, plus, find a use for the almond pulp.
If you don’t have any almond pulp at hand, here’s the recipe I adapted my version from, that uses cashew paste instead.
I hope you try making this dairy-free version, and if you’re feeling particularly decadent, add a scoop of vegan vanilla ice-cream to your bowl. Thank me later!
For the jamun
- 4 slices of white sandwich bread, edges trimmed off
- 6 tbsp leftover almond pulp after extracting almond milk
- 4 tbsp canned coconut milk
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Oil, for deep frying
For the syrup
- 3/4 c cane sugar
- 3/4 c water
- 4 green cardamom pods
- a pinch of saffron
Make the jamun dough
- Shred the bread slices roughly with your hands. In a bowl, combine the bread, almond pulp and knead until lumpy but wet.
- Adding a little coconut milk at a time, knead into a dough, removing lumps as you go, until you get a very soft, smooth, slightly damp dough. Do not over knead.
- Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
Make the syrup
- In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Let it come to a rolling boil on medium heat.
- In the meantime, in a small mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom seeds until the skin opens and the seeds come out. Take the skin and add it to the boiling syrup. Crush the seeds a little more until it's a coarse powder.
- Let the syrup boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce to the slowest simmer (see notes) to thicken. Add the crushed cardamom seeds and the saffron now.
- Keep an eye on the syrup, making sure it's not becoming too thick. It should be like simple syrup.
Fry the jamun
- Heat oil for deep frying in a small but deep dish over medium heat.
- While the oil is heating, divide the rested dough into 8 equal parts. Roll between your palms into smooth balls, making sure there are no cracks or dents.
- Once hot (but not too hot), reduce heat to low, and add the jamun balls without overcrowding. I fry these in two batches of 4 each. The oil is the right temperature when the balls begin to sizzle as soon as it hits the oil, but doesn't change color.
- Flipping every few seconds, let the balls cook on low heat for 2 minutes. Then increase heat to medium and continue cooking until golden brown on all sides. Remember to keep turning the balls every few seconds for even coloring.
- Drain and add the balls to the simmering sugar syrup.
- Repeat frying the remaining balls (if doing multiple batches) and add to syrup.
Soak in syrup
- Let the fried balls simmer in the syrup for about 2 minutes or until they soften. Turn off heat and let it sit at room temperature, to continue soaking.
- Serve warm or chilled. Keeps well refrigerated for upto a week, although it's best eaten on the same day.
- While I normally prefer to stock my home with sourdough bread for all-purpose eating, this recipe is best made with plain old-fashioned white sandwich bread.
- The word 'Gulab' means rose in Hindi. You can add a few drops of rose extract or rose water for a floral flavor, if you prefer. Personally, I don't like the taste of rose water.
- To simmer the syrup in the lowest setting, I reduce the gas flame to low, then continue reducing the gas right before the stove turns off, when the flame is barely there. This way, the syrup won't thicken too much while you fry the jamuns.
- NO PULP? If you don’t have any almond pulp at hand, here’s the recipe I adapted my version from, that uses cashew paste instead.
- LEFTOVER SYRUP: There's almost always some syrup leftover after the jamuns are eaten. Use this syrup to sweeten your chai, smoothies, juices, or moisten cake layers.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 316Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 199mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 2gSugar: 40gProtein: 5g