"A dessert that will delight the child in you." So goes the menu description for the gulab jamun at Rangoli on the edge of Humboldt Park. One of the most surprising restaurants in the neighborhood, a part of town not necessarily known for its vindaloo, Rangoli is a gem that raises the bar on Indian food with its slick, transportive atmosphere and its bracingly fresh food. From naan to dessert, the attention to quality is obvious. And there's no better exclamation point to punctuate a meal at Rangoli than with their gulab jamun, one of my favorite desserts of all time, let alone Indian desserts.
Gulab jamun is India's answer to the doughnut, hence their silly menu descriptor. Made from milk solids that have been kneaded into a dough with flour and then deep-fried at a low temperature, the results are a chewy, doughy, and delicate "doughnut"-type dessert. They're exceedingly rich, which is why they are often so diminutive in portion size, especially considering they're served soaked in sugar syrup. The delicate dough balls act as tiny sponges, absorbing much of the sugar syrup, sort of like a baba au rhum. They practically erupt with luscious nectar when you bite into them, their tender body giving way to an explosion of sweetness. These are not for the faint of heart if excess sugar freaks you out, but the die-hard sweet tooth can't do any better. Following a meal of meaty korma and heady curries, a super sweet finale is the way to go.