Kala Jamun is a dark/black variety of popular indian sweet gulab jamun. These fried balls are made with khoya or mawa and paneer and dunked in rose syrup. Also known as Kala Jaam, these juicy morsels are a unique sweet served on Indian festivals like Diwali or Holi.
In this post, I am sharing an easy classic kala jamun recipe made with khoya along with lots of tips and tricks.
Growing up, a box of kala jamun was a must on bhai dooj. Bhai dooj is a festival 2 days post diwali. I remember my aunts showing up with boxes of mithai for the celebration and I looked forward to these black beauties in there.
As I write this, I am smiling ear to ear thinking of the countless kala jamuns I used to pop in my mouth that day. It is one of my favorite sweet! During Diwali, I make sure to make these at least once- my husband is also a huge fan of these.
Kala Jamun Vs Gulab Jamun
As soon as you look at the two, you will notice that the first difference between kala jamun and gulab jamun is the color. While kala jamun is dark to almost black in color, gulab jamuns are a pleasant deep brown shade. In Hindi, kala refers to black color and the jamuns are fried longer to achieve that dark look. Hence the name.
Second difference is in the texture of both the sweets. While kala jamun has a chewy outside and soft inside, gulab jamuns are soft and melt in the mouth all through.
Thirdly there is a slight difference in the taste of two. Kala jamun has a pleasant bitter & smoky note to it.
Lastly, there is also a little difference in the ingredients. While both kala jamun and gulab jamun use common ingredients like khoya, milk, sugar, cardamom etc, paneer or fresh chenna is an important ingredient in Kala Jamun. Addition of paneer gives kala jamun the characteristic chewy texture.
About My Recipe
What is Kala Jamun?
It is an indian sweet (mithai) resembling a fried doughnut/dumpling made with khoya/mawa, paneer, maida (all purpose flour), semolina. The dumplings are dunked in sugar syrup. The common flavor is elaichi (green cardamom) and rose water. Those are the two flavors I use in my recipe too.
When I came to US over a decade back, I remember on few Diwalis, I made khoya from scratch at home. It was back breaking. However now I buy khoya from stores and if you can find it in the freezer section(usually), go for the mawa from Vadilal (its the best).
I have never made these with milk powder. When I make mithai and the recipe calls for paneer, I always make paneer at home. You can make paneer a day ahead to make things easy. The reason being that the quality of paneer available here in stores doesn't match the softness thats needed in this recipe.
Store bought kala jamun are always stuffed and some people like to stuff the Kala jamuns when they make at home,I dont. It is an additional step and you can try it if you wish.
Shapewise, I remember kala jamun in India used to be oblong. I shape them round as well as oblong depending on my mood. Shape is just a visual thing, they will taste same.
Tips for Making Perfect Kala Jamun
Growing up in India, there were just a handful of sweets like ladoos or halwa that were made at home. The mithai available at halwai shops in India is mind blowing and truly there is no reason to toil at home over sweets.
It is a different story in States. I started making mithai at home some 12-13 years back and trust me I have had a fair share of failures. No matter how many tips I write down here, while they will definitely guide you, trust me its only practice and patience that will help you master mithai making. That said, here are my tips to make best kala jamun:-
Tips on making Dough
- Dont use cold ingredients. Take out the mawa and paneer 30 minutes prior to making kala jamun.
- Use best quality ingredients. While this may feel like a general statement, trust me homemade paneer and good quality khoya (with a good fat fat content) will contribute to taste of the jamuns.
- Grate the khoya and fine crumble the paneer. If using store bough paneer, purchase malai or full fat paneer and grate it fine. Else you could have a lumpy dough.
- The dough should be soft but not sticky. This is very important. Paneer (fresh chenna) has moisture in it. Add milk very slowly & carefully when you make the dough. To give you an example, depending on the quality of khoya and paneer the amount of milk needed can vary from 1 tablespoon to 4 tablespoons!
- Dough can be misleading! At first you might feel that the dough is crumbly and you would add milk, however keep in mind that as you mash the khoya with hands, it's fats will release and that helps a lot in bringing the dough together.
- Handle the dough gently. Dont knead or squeeze the dough too much. Though the maida quantity is very little in this recipe, still you dont want to work up those gluten. Kneading too much will also make the moisture of chenna squeeze out and the dough will become sticky.
- Rest the dough. It helps the flavors to mingle.
Tips on Frying Kala Jamun
Shape the jamuns as smooth as possible without any cracks.
Fry the jamuns on medium to low heat. The frying is a bit tricky but once you get a hang of it you will ace them every time. You would think, I did too, that the jamuns have to be fried for a long time to get that dark color. I have spoiled many batches before learning that longer frying will only burn them.
Start them in warm oil. If the oil is luke warm to start, they will aborb oil and will get hard by the time they get that color.
To check the oil, pinch a little dough and put it in oil. The dough will drop to the bottom and come floating up in a few seconds. It should not sizzle, that means that the oil is too hot. It should not just sit at the bottom or take too long to come up, that means that the oil is cold.
Do not crowd the oil with too many jamuns at a time. Only when one batch floats on top you may add 2-3 more to the oil. Maintaining the oil temperature will help in even frying of jamuns.
Pro Tip - It is normal for the oil to foam due to baking soda in the dough. Dont be warned by it.
Sugar Syrup Tips
- Start making the syrup only when you are ready to fry the jamuns. We want a hot syrup to dunk the jamuns.
- We dont want any string consistency. The syrup should not be water or thick. It should be sticky like honey and imagine the consistency similar to a warm maple syrup.
- If the syrup is too watery or too thick- the jamuns will not absorb it/remain hard & dry inside.
- Drain the jamuns for a minute on paper towel before adding to the syrup. You dont want the syrup to get oily.
Storage & Serving
You can store kala jamun refrigerated for 1 week. Once taken out of the syrup, the jamuns can be stored at room temperature for 4 days during winters (without heating).
For making dry Kala Jamun, simple use a slotted spoon and take the jamuns out of syrup after soaking.
You can serve them dry or with syrup. I like them either way. Serve warm kala jamuns with a scoop or vanilla ice cream or rabdi.
How To Make Kala Jamun (Pictures)
Here are step by step pictures to give you an idea about the process of making kala jamun. Please find detailed written recipe below.
Some Mithai Recipes
Kala Jamun Recipe (Black Gulab Jamun)
- 200 g Khoya/mawa fine grated
- 75 g paneer fine crumbled or grated
- 3 tablespoon all purpose flour maida
- ¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder
- Scant pinch baking soda
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Oil or ghee (clarified butter) for frying
For Sugar Syrup
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- ¼ teaspoon green cardamom powder
Make The Kala Jamun Dough
- In a large wide plate or parat, add fine grated khoya and fine crumbled paneer (chenna). Mix and mash with hands to make sure that there are no lumps. Pro Tip :- Crumble paneer very well before adding. If using store bough paneer, use malai paneer and grate it. There should not be any lump or big pieces of mawa or chenna.
- Add all purpose flour, baking soda and green cardamom to the mashed khoya and paneer.
- Add 1 tablespoon of milk and gently mix. Bring the khoya mixture together light handedly. Don't squish or squeeze. As you work the khoya, its fat will help you in bringing the dough together.
- If the mixture looks dry and crumbly, add ½ or 1 teaspoon milk to bring it together. Dough should be soft but not sticky.
- Cover the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
Shape the Kala Jamun
- Pinch small portions of the dough. You should get 18 to 20. Pro Tip: - If you wish, you can use a food scale to make sure that your portions are of equal size. That way your kala jamuns will be of uniform size.
- Roll the portions (light handedly) between your palms to make a smooth round ball or you can also make an oblong shape.
- Keep the jamuns covered with a towel until ready to fry.
Make Sugar Syrup
- Before frying, make the sugar syrup. Combine sugar and water in a pot and set to stove. Let come to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins.
- When the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice. Cook the sugar till it becomes slightly sticky. We dont want any string consistency.
- Half way while sugar syrup is cooking, you may start frying the jamuns since we want jamuns to go in hot syrup. If either the syrup or jamuns are cold, they wont absorb and remain hard & dry.
- Set oil or ghee to heat up in a kadai or a large pot. Heat oil on a low medium flame.
- Once the syrup is sticky, switch off the stove and add cardamom powder & rose water to it. Keep near.
Deep Frying Kala Jamun
- To check the temperature of oil, drop a small portion of dough into the oil, it should come floating up slowly. If it comes up fast & sizzles, the oil is too hot.If the dough sits at the the bottom, the oil is cold.
- Gently slide 4-6 jamuns in the hot oil. Dont overcrowd the pan else the temperature wont be maintained.
- Dont use any spoon until the jamuns come floating up. If you touch them before this point, they will break.
- At first, these will look like gulab jamuns, however keep on frying and gently moving around till the jamuns are a dark color. They will plump up bit. Fry them for on all sides.
- If you have enough oil, you can keep adding 2-3 more jamuns while the previous batch attains dark color. This will help in quickly finishing the frying process. However use your judgement, the oil temperature should not drop.
- Using a slotted spoon, pick the fried kala jamuns and drain on a paper towel for few seconds.Dont let cool down.
- Immediately add to hot sugar syrup.
- Frying up all the jamuns in batches and add to syrup.
- Cover and let soak in syrup for at least 30 minutes. These need a longer soaking time than gulab jamuns due to harder skin.
- Once soaked, decorate with edible gold or dried rose petals. You can take them out of the syrup and serve dry as well. Enjoy warm or serve chilled.