In the back streets of most old towns throughout the Subcontinent, there’s almost always a small section of sweet makers, their shops containing large smoke- and spatter-blackened vats full of milk simmering down, milk that will then be fashioned into a range of brilliant sweets. Sweets are eaten as a snack rather than for dessert, and are given as gifts at Diwali, the lunar new year for Hindus (see Glossary).
Many of these sweets can be adapted to the home kitchen. One of the best is gulab jamun, milk blended with flour and shaped into round balls, slow fried, and then simmered in syrup. To double the recipe, double all the jamun ingredients; increase the syrup to 1½ cups each water and sugar, and use the same 2 teaspoons rose water.