Gulab Jamun Ki Sabji: A Savoury Delicacy From Jodhpur
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Although the arid state of Rajasthan might seem like an unlikely contender for a booming dairy industry to operate in full swing, the city of Jodhpur is known particularly for yielding top quality milk and milk products. Considered to be one of the key rural occupations, dairy farms that also produce products like mawa, paneer and ghee find their way into local recipes. One of these delicious by-products – the gulab jamun ki sabji – is unlike anything one has come across before. While the name of the dessert rings a bell in our minds as reference to a syrupy-soft dessert scented with cardamom and rose water, the Jodhpur delicacy is what’s best described as mawa koftas.

Image Credits: Taste Of City

Deep-fried dumplings made with a mixture of paneer and mawa – two of the key ingredients for a gulab jamun – these unsweetened dumplings are simmered in a tomato-based bhuna masala that is flavoured with a special kind of Marwari garam masala. Originating from Jodhpur where the sabji is considered to be a rich and creamy vegetarian delicacy, the mawa koftas are eaten with jowar rotis or phulkas. Enriched with cashew paste and ghee, the heavy dish is reserved for special occasions where elaborate feasts form a crucial aspect of the merry-making.

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Some theories also suggest that the sabji was created by the innovative minds of Jodhpuri women, who purchased unsoaked jamuns or feekha jamun from sweetmeat vendors who had them leftover. As a way to repurpose and upcycle their food resources, the sabji seemed like a delicious way to consume jamuns steeped in the flavour of fresh dairy. Some variations in the preparation of the gulab jamun ki sabji also use an ingredient known as feekhi rabri – or unsweetened condensed milk – to thicken the consistency of the final dish.

Ingredients [For Gulab Jamun]

  • ½ cup khoya
  • 1 cup grated paneer
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Ingredients [For Gravy]

  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 3 green chillies, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi
  • 2-3 tablespoons ghee
  • Salt, to taste


  • Heat some of the ghee in a pan and bloom the whole spices for the gravy, until they begin to sizzle.
  • Add the sliced onions and cook on a medium-high flame until lightly brown, before adding the ginger-garlic and green chillies.
  • Once aromatic, add the tomato puree and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, while you whisk the spice powders into the yoghurt and set aside.
  • Allow the tomato mixture to cool slightly, once the heat is turned off. Combine all the ingredients for the gulab jamuns in a separate bowl and make a dough-like mixture.
  • Shape into lemon-sized roundels and fry in hot oil until golden-brown on all sides.
  • Grind the tomato mixture into a fine paste, while you heat the remaining ghee in a pan.
  • Pour in the yoghurt and spice mixture and cook for a minute, before adding the ground tomato mixture and simmering for 2-3 minutes.
  • Season with salt and sprinkle the kasuri methi before dropping the fried gulab jamun balls in.
  • Mix gently to coat the koftas on all sides and add in some of the fresh cream. Stir it in and turn off the flame and serve hot with rotis or naan.