i finally figured out that the little dough rounds that have me completely in love at nasr are called bamieh.
their version contains saffron in the dough and, i dare say, potentially a little saffron in the honey syrup. they said that rather than a soak, they actually fill the deep fried ovals with the syrup to infuse it from the inside out.
from what i can gather, most recipes don't call for saffron and soak rather than fill with syrup.... does anyone have any more extensive experience with this then me? i'd love to find more bakeries and see if they do a better version than the one at nasr.
ps. i tried the bakery in the same plaza as nasr... but it was a disappointment without the saffron adding to its complexity.
gulab are large fistfuls of balls usually made with a yogurt based batter. they do not have saffron from my experience... and are mushy. so mushy that i sometimes find them unenjoyable.
the bamieh are more like crisp little ikea shaped pegs. i think the infusion from the inside out and the thicker syrup allows for this crispness. the saffron flavour is really what gets me. i also love how the syrup in the centre spills out when you chomp on a piece.
as much as they're not a proper replacement for them... they're doing well to satiate my koeksisters cravings.
Interesting! I've had gulab made with saffron, as it can be a traditional preparation. See the wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulab_jamun -- This could be because I grew up in Brampton, which has a large Indian population.
That being said, you might have more luck in the burbs. Maybe give Kwality Sweets in Brampton a call?
2150 Steeles Ave E, Brampton, ON L6T1A7, CA