Diwali lights and sweets on a plate Image by Tanuj Handa from Pixabay

What Christmas is to Christians, Diwali is to Hindus. It is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by people in India and across the world. Diwali or Deepavali is derived from the word avali (rows) of deepa clay (lamps). The rows of clay lamps lit outside homes during this festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil, light over darkness. Diwali spans over five days between mid-October and mid-November, starting from Dhanteras to Bhai Dooj. Diwali is called by different names depending on the region you are in, but the story behind them remains the same.

Many people host pujas or religious celebrations on account of this day. Since my family is not the religious sort, we do not partake in a lot of these pujas, but we definitely do the Diwali cleaning, light diyas, burst crackers, and prepare special food items like most people. We wear new clothes and jewelry during this festival. As part of Diwali festivities, we also visit relatives and friends with gifts such as dry fruits and sweets.

Importance of food in Diwali celebrations

But if you ask me, the best part of any festival, is the huge variety of treats, be it sweet or savory. Sweets form an essential part of Indian festivals, and Diwali is no different. You will be baffled by the huge variety of sweets as well as savories that are prepared during Diwali. Some of the special sweet treats prepared during Diwali include kaju katli, gujjia, gulab jamun, coconut barfi, besan laddoo, malai peda, and so on. You will also find a range of savory treats like kachoris, samosas, and tikkis during this time. Yum!!

Most Indian families tend to start preparing for the festivities several days before the actual festival. Every family spends this festival differently than the others, and each one is likely to have their own festival favorites. The festival season brings together families, neighbors, and friends as they partake in delicious feasts, exchange gifts, and watch fireworks.  

Diwali during the new normal 

It’s that time of the year again! And this Diwali, it’s a full house with all your family members at home. So, you have all the time in the world to try and test different dishes for this festival. You can be as creative and inventive as you want to make “that” perfect mithai for your family this Diwali.

I come from a family of foodies, so this Diwali, I came up with an idea to surprise my family with a truly special sweet. This Diwali also happens to fall on another special day, my husband’s birthday! So, I started looking for a nice recipe, and after a long search, I concluded that I’d try a fusion dessert. That’s when I decided that I would bake a gulab jamun cake.

Ever since I tried a fusion dessert on one of my trips to Kolkata, I have always wanted to bake one of these cakes. Finally, I made up my mind on fixing up this cake for my family this Diwali. After some hits and misses, I got a perfect recipe for a gulab jamun recipe for Diwali which I'd love to share with you.

How to make my super special gulab jamun cake

Gulab Jamuns in a bowl Image by ikon from Pixabay


For the gulab jamuns

  • Milk powder - 2 cups
  • Ghee - 2 tbsp
  • Sooji - 3 tbsp 
  • All-purpose flour - 2 tbsp
  • Baking powder - 1 tsp
  • Milk as per requirement
  • Oil for deep frying

For the sugar syrup

  • Sugar - 2 cups
  • Water - 3 cups
  • Crushed cardamom - 3 nos.

For the cake

  • Powdered sugar - ¾ cup*
  • Curd - 1 cup 
  • Melted butter - ½ cup
  • Baking powder - 1¼ tsp
  • Baking soda - ½ tsp
  • All-purpose flour - 1½ cup 
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
* If you do not want your cake to be too sweet you can cut down the sugar in the cake to about ¼ - ½ cups

For decoration

  • Whipping cream - 1 cup
  • Silver varak – as per requirement

How to make the cake:

Making the gulab jamuns

  • In a bowl, take sooji and soak it in 2 tbsps milk and set aside for about 5 mins.
  • Add ghee to the milk powder and mix well.
  • Next, add in the maida, baking powder, sooji mix, and mix them well with milk powder.
  • Add milk slowly into this mixture and knead well into a soft dough.
  • For the sugar syrup, add sugar and water in a large pot and let it boil for 6-7 mins till you get a sticky consistency. 
  • Add in the crushed cardamom and set it aside to cool.
  • Divide the dough into little balls and deep fry the gulab jamuns until it reaches a nice golden brown color.
  • Add in the gulab jamuns in the sugar syrup and let it soak for 2-3 hrs till it gets soft.

Baking the cake

  • Preheat your oven for 15 min at 180° C. 
  • Grease two round cake pans with butter, dust them with flour, and set them aside.
  • Combine the dry ingredients, i.e., flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and set it aside.
  • Blend the wet ingredients such as oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract in another bowl.
  • Add in the wet ingredients into the dry and fold them gently.
  • Spoon this batter equally between the two cake pans.
  • Bake the cakes for about 25-35 minutes at 180° C.
  • Remove the cakes and let it cool completely.

Bringing the gulab jamun and cake together

  • Take the whipping cream and beat it till you get stiff peaks. Add in a few drops of vanilla extract and fold it in with the cream. 
  • Remove the cakes from the mold and soak them in sugar syrup separately.
  • Spread some whipped cream onto first cake. 
  • Cut a few gulab jamuns into halves and layer them over the first cake. Spread some more whipped cream over this layer.
  • Place the second cake over the first cake layer and cover up the entire cake with the rest of the whipped cream.
  • Keep the cake in the freezer to chill for a few hours.
  • Finally, garnish the cake with a few gulab jamuns on top, so the cake looks pretty. 
  • Place silver varak on the gulab jamun for an extra good looking cake.

There it is. Try this recipe and enjoy this amazing cake with your family and friends this Diwali. Do let us know how it turned out for you and what your family thought about it. Visit the Bakehoney blog page to learn how to make baked rosogollas.

Hope you have a safe and sweet Diwali! 

This blog was contributed by Sindhu Menon.