Another Year, Another Indian festival. Holi marks the end of winter, celebrates the onset of Spring, and celebrates the victory of good over evil in several mythological stories. It is a carefree happy festival of colors celebrated for 2 days. On the first evening, bonfires are lit with old dried trees and leaves to make way for the new and for warmth. The bonfires also have several stories associated with them depending on the region. On the second day, people usually use dry or wet color to drench you in multiple colors.
Because sometimes everyone needs to indulge in the foods we grew up with(deep fried mozzarella! now that is also on the to-do list), I try to vegan-ize the not necessarily healthy desserts as well. I make these deep fried sweet balls or similar decadent sweets, two or three times a year. Once mainly during Diwali and then for other festivals if we decide to celebrate them with friends.
This post has the new and improved version of the Gulab Jamuns. And if you dont like all that gluten from the wheat, I have an awesome gluten-free version in the post too. Nothing is Impossible. 2 recipes, same deliciousness. I served the wheat version to unsuspecting people at a Diwali get together last year, and most did not catch the missing dairy. No milk powder, No Khoya, Similar taste = everyone happy, including the cows and calfs.
The top jamun with less cracks is glutenfree.
Please pardon the title, eggless and dairy-free seem to get thousands more search queries compared to the vegan keyword :).
The idea of using Sweet potato in the dough is adapted from Dr Varadarangan’s recipe. I dont have all purpose flour in the house anymore, so I use whole wheat flour and a little cashew and oat to add more texture to the Jamuns. The sweet potato adds the perfect moist denseness to the jamuns like the usual dairy ones.
I love both versions. The wheat ones are softer while the Glutenfree ones retain their shape much better. There is a very slight difference in taste if you go looking for it. But in a bowl of both together, you wont find the gf ones. Oh, and did I mention, there is No Soy. No soy milk powder or tofu. 🙂 Make them!
Most Indian Desserts can easily fit into a non-Indian spread. These GJs are somewhat like Sweet Potato doughnut holes. the difference being that these balls are soaked through with flavored sugar syrup instead of thick icing. Use your favorite flavors in the syrup(cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, gingerbread spice) and these can be your sticky soft doughnut hole dessert.
More Veganized Indian Sweets collection here.
I love the texture of the GJs.
Mix all dry.
Add wet to dry and make dough . Wheat cashew dough below.
Glutenfree Oat batter dough below.
Let sit for 10 minutes. Make balls and fry.
Soak the balls in sugar syrup for half an hour before consuming.
These recipes updated for even better gulab jamuns in my cookbook! Now Available worldwide!!
- 1/2 cup wheat flour or 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 up bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons ground raw cashew or almond
- 1 Tablespoon Oat flour
- 1 Tablespoon ground raw sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- a generous pinch of salt
- a pinch of black salt/kala namak optional
- 1/4 cup sweet potato puree well mashed boiled sweet potato or plain canned
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 1-2 Tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup Oat flour
- 2 Tablespoons Brown rice flour
- 3 Tablespoons Tapioca starch
- 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons Sweet potato puree
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 2 teaspoons water
- Variation: Add a Tablespoon of ground raw cashew for added texture and a tbsp soy flour for additional binding and moisture
- 1 cup ground raw sugar or other vegan sugar
- 1 cup water
- a pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder o r 2-3 cardamom pods seeds crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet and mix well.
- The wheat dough should be soft and non sticky. Use a few teaspoons more water or wheat flour if needed.
- The glutenfree dough will be soft, more like a very thick batter and will get a bit dryer and more dough like after the 10 minutes.
- Cover the doughs with a towel and let sit for 10 minutes till you prep the sugar syrup and heat up the oil.
- Oil your hands and Make balls of the dough with a light hand. 1/2-3/4 inch size balls.
- Once the oil is hot, fry the balls on medium heat. The wheat balls will double in size and the glutenfree ones will increase to 1.5 times the size, so fry in small batches to keep enough space and cook evenly. If the oil is too hot, the jamuns will get dark quickly and not cook from the inside.Turn them around every 2 minutes.
- Remove the balls once golden brown all over, not dark brown.(6-8 minutes). Let the balls sit out for a minute before adding to the hot sugar syrup.
- Place the balls in hot sugar syrup. keep the sugar syrup on low heat. Turn them around after 5 minutes and switch heat off. The balls soak unevenly for the first few minutes and look uneven too, but will even out after some time.
- Let them soak for at least half an hour. turn them around every 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Keep refrigerated for upto 3 days.
- Mix the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes until just about 1/2 string consistency.
- Add cardamom powder and saffron strands and keep ready.
Nutrition: Approx nutrition for Vegan Gulab Jamuns based on 20 balls, serving 6 people. Includes sugar syrup, does not include frying.
Even though, the festival of Holi is about happiness and colors, it has several effects on people and the environment. Apart from the toxicity of the colors used(the colors are almost never tested and are toxic on the skin and eventually also end up in water sources), and the Holika Dahan bonfires(approx 30,000 bonfires each burning approximately 100 kg of wood are lit in one season), the other big impact is the usage or rather wastage of water. Water is an important commodity, with fresh water resources being used up rapidly and rampantly without a thought about the future.
Please read the excerpt below and choose to celebrate this Holi with natural color dry powders(turmeric, beet, spinach, tomato powders etc) and with no water.
Aabid Surti is a distinguished Indian painter and author. Aabid has written around 80 books but no story so moved him as the truth about water scarcity on the planet. “I read an interview of the former UN chief Boutros Boutros Ghali,” he recalls, “who said that by 2025 more than 40 countries are expected to experience water crisis. I remembered my childhood in a ghetto fighting for each bucket of water. I knew that shortage of water is the end of civilized life.”
Once he was sitting in a friend’s house and noticed a leaky tap. It bothered him. When he pointed it out, his friend, like others, dismissed it casually: it was too expensive and inconvenient to call a plumber for such a minor job – even plumbers resisted coming to only replace old gaskets.
A few days later, he came across a statistic in the newspaper: a tap that drips once every second wastes a thousand litres of water in a month.
That triggered an idea. He would take a plumber from door to door and fix taps for free – one apartment complex every weekend.
He began by simply replacing old O-ring rubber gaskets with new ones, buying new fixtures from the wholesale market. He named his one-man NGO ‘Drop Dead’ and created a tagline: save every drop… or drop dead.
Every Sunday, the Drop Dead team – which consisted of Aabid himself, Riyaaz the plumber and a female volunteer Tejal – picked the apartment blocks, got permission from the housing societies, and got to work. A day before, Tejal would hand out pamphlets explaining their mission and paste posters in elevators and apartment lobbies spreading awareness on the looming water crisis. And by Sunday afternoon, they would ensure the buildings were drip-dry.
By the end of the first year, they had visited 1533 homes and fixed around 400 taps.
Conservatively, it could be estimated that he has single-handedly saved at least 5.5m litres of water till date.