This recipe for a well-balanced gulab jamun syrup with cardamom, saffron, and rose essence can be used for gulab jamuns, cocktails, coffee, pancakes and more!
This article is a deep dive on making gulab jamun syrup. Typically this syrup is used to soak gulab jamuns, which are fried milk balls. However, this is the standalone recipe for just the syrup, which you can use when to make gulab jamuns or for use in a gulab jamun cocktail. If you are still looking for more inspiration, I've detailed some other fun uses for this syrup!
Ingredients and customization
The ingredients for gulab jamun syrup are pretty straightforward pantry items as listed below:
- Rose Water
- Lemon Juice
A combo of cardamom, saffron, and rose water are typically used in gulab jamun. However, many folks use their favorite combo of cardamom, saffron, and rose water and omit the flavorings they don't like to their taste, so please feel free to do so yourself.
Sugar to water ratio
Use a 4:5 ratio of sugar to water if using this recipe for gulab jamuns (i.e. 1 cup sugar for 1.25 cups of water) and a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water if using this recipe for other applications like cocktails or pancakes.
I use a thinner or less sweet syrup when it comes to gulab jamuns because a thinner syrup allows the jamuns to soak up more liquid, the jamuns aren't overly sweet, and because the syrup thickens from the flour in the jamun as the syrup and gulab jamun sit together and soak.
Tips for crafting your perfect gulab jamun syrup
- Sugar:Water Ratio - As mentioned, I like a 4:5 ratio of sugar to water for a less sweet syrup for gulab jamuns and a 1:1 for other applications like pancakes and cocktails.
- Allow sryup to come to first boil to ensure no sugar granules are left.
- Lemon juice helps prevent crystallization and creates a well-balanced syrup.
- Add in lemon juice and rose water as a last step. Lemon juice and rose water have essential oils which dissipate in heat. This means that you need to add these two once the heat is cut off to keep the flavor from disappearing.
- Use any combo of cardamom, saffron, and rose water. Everyone has their perfect combo of these three flavor enhancers for gulab jamun. My recipe uses a bit of each of these for a flavorful and complex syrup. However, if you don't have one of these ingredients just use a bit more of the other.
- Warm syrup to 100F if using for gulab jamuns to help jamuns absorb the syrup.
What to do with leftover gulab jamun syrup
If you are making gulab jamun syrup for gulab jamuns, there is a high chance that you have leftovers which you can use in other dishes. Here are some ideas for what to do with leftover gulab jamun syrup:
- Use syrup on pancakes and waffles
- Use syrup to moisten cake - Bakers typically brush on a layer of syrup to keep cake moist for long periods of time. Why not add flavor by using gulab jamun syrup?
- Use to sweeten coffee, tea, lattes
- Use to sweeten mocktails or cocktails. Checkout my gulab jamun cocktail recipe which uses this delicious syrup.
- Make sorbet - freeze a thin layer of the syrup in the freezer and use a fork to ruffle into an icy, refreshing dessert.
- Bottle it up as a gift - folks send out gulab jamuns as Diwali gifts: why not package up gulab jamun syrup instead?
- Flavor oatmeal - Use it to flavor your favorite oatmeal.
Lemon juice prevents crystallization
The acid from the lemon juice prevents the sugar molecules from binding too tightly and thus crystalizing into hard chunks in your syrup. This ingredient is key especially if you plan on storing your gulab jamun syrup for a long period of time. In addition, the acidity adds brightness to the flavor of the syrup to give it a good balanced flavor.
Storing sugar syrup
Sugar syrup can last for 2+ months at room temperature or in the fridge. Allow the sugar syrup to completely cool before bottling it up in a container with a lid. The syrup will last longer without crystallization in the fridge.
Gulab Jamun Recipes
If you are looking to use this syrup for gulab jamuns, here are some recipes you may consider using:
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don't add an acid like lemon juice, as the sugars sit they bond and crystalize. To minimize crystallization add lemon juice and refrigerate the syrup.
Use a 4:5 ratio of sugar to water if using the syrup for gulab jamun and a 1:1 ratio if using for other use cases like pancakes or cocktails. You can read more about why here.
Simply allow the sugar syrup to come to a first boil and stir to ensure that there are no remaining sugar granules that remain undissolved. Some recipes recommend to get the sugar syrup to a string consistency if using it for gulab jamuns however I recommend against it as a thinner syrup is easier for the gulab jamuns to absorb and the syrup will thicken as the flour from the gulab jamuns and the syrup combine.
If using the syrup for cocktails, it is best to refrigerate the syrup. However, if using the syrup for gulab jamuns it is best to have warm syrup (100F) to allow the gulab jamuns to easily absorb the syrup. Be careful that the syrup is not too hot as this will cause the gulab jamuns to break.