Kid-Friendly Gulab Jamun-Inspired Dessert

By Malinda Nichols, Lifeline India Mom

Gulab jamun is a traditional Indian dessert often enjoyed during India’s big autumn holiday of Diwali. Essentially a deep-fried donut hole, Gulab jamun are traditionally made with paneer cheese and soaked in rose simple syrup for that signature South Asian flavor. Although my family often enjoys authentic Indian food at our favorite local restaurants and with our Indian friends, we have found that substituting more familiar ingredients and methods makes mealtime a little less hectic! For this recipe, we used ricotta instead of paneer, and because it’s fall, swapped the rose flavor with salted caramel. As an added bonus, it’s made in one bowl and is easy enough for my young kids to lend a helping hand.


  • 10 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  •  2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp. white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Oil for frying
  • Powder sugar or caramel for topping


  • Preheat vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan to 315°F. Set out a wire rack (for cooling), placing paper towels on top. Also, lay a piece of parchment on your work surface to hold the dough holes before frying.

Combine ricotta, eggs, sugar, and vanilla by whisking. Add in flour, baking soda, and salt. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to combine all ingredients. With lightly floured hands, make a roundish blob of dough, about the size of a doughnut hole. Place the dough balls on the parchment paper and continue until you’ve used all of the dough. They won’t look great and will be sticky, but they’ll come together in the fryer! When the oil is at temperature, place about four at a time in the oil. Turn to cook evenly, until they are golden in color. Lay them on the wire rack to cool. Serve with powdered sugar or your favorite caramel sauce. Eat while still warm.