Imagine the worst thing you can eat, now double it. That is what I thought would happen when I prepared Gulab Jamun, an indian dessert. I remember having it when I was a kid, we had an Indian friend and were visiting him in Melbourne and he made it on our last night there. It was lovely! Soft, moist, squishy, and bursting with sugar. Basically deep-fried cake which has been soaked in rose sugar-water. Seriously what ten year old wouldn’t love that!
Now lets jump forward 12 years. I have this great assessment to do and what better way to prepare a dessert than to revisit my childhood! The brief is to use an unfamiliar cooking method and while this doesn’t exclude non-core foods I did some research to see how this delicious dessert compared. I found that in fact Gulab Jamun has 1228* Kj (per 100g) which is less than chocolate (2206 Kj^) and mud cake (1415 – 2124Kj#). This was super surprising and interesting to think that my perception of a foods energy content was exacerbated to heights seen only from the window seat of a jumbo jet.
I realised that most non-core foods we eat have been packaged up without a hint of the way they have been cooked or processed. Think of chocolates, lollies, and ice-cream, colourful packets and even brighter food! This buries the thoughts of sugar and fat (aka inherent ‘evil’) to the back of our minds. Even pre-made cake mixes can hide their sugar in bags of chocolate-coloured goodness. For gulab Jamun sugar and oil are unavoidable fact, maybe all foods should be made this way, making us more accountable! This was very apparent as followed the very first step; to combine the 2 cups of sugar with water and spice. As well as thinking “I’m gonna pay for this during my next workout”, it was also an odd concept for me. I thought It would be like cooking caramel which I did in cooking class at school, but this was miles from that. Most of us melt sugar into our tea and coffee and this was just like that but on a larger scale. One point of frustration was that the recipe calls for milk powder. Who uses milk powder any more? AND you can only buy 1 kg bags! This was definitely a weakness of the recipe.
The part that I was not looking forward to was the job of deep frying. I have never cooked with lots of oil before. I anticipated the oil spitting out at me because that’s what my cooking-buddy said happened to her while cooking chicken; super-annoying. I was pleasantly surprised about the lack of pain, finding that the oil doesn’t need to be super hot which is great (no spitting). Controlling the temperature of the oil was like patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time; taking several batches before I was able to cook the middle through. In hindsight I should have bought a thermometer, as the recipe gives a temperature for the oil (170 oC). While the recipe calls for a large pan, we would definitely go for a deep pot/pan with a smaller base. This would allow the oil to completely surround the Gulab Jamun, lessening the need for continual stirring and achieving even cooking.
I was anticipating efforts of a herculean proportion would be required, that this was the type of cooking that would have left me victim to my at-times-tyrannical behaviour. That I would be left sobbing silently and alone in the corner. But alas, no! I’m going to say that this one was 7/10 for success. We found that the middles were cooked but tough, and think that this could be because the dough may have been over worked. So not quite as I remember them, but edible!
Until next time!
* The left over sugar-water component (50%) and left over oil component (67%) being accounted for and removed from the nutritional analysis.
# NUTTAB 2010 ID: __02E10420 to ID: __02E10428
^ NUTTAB 2010 ID: __12C10352
Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime