…. flatbreads with a sweet lentil filling.
When I was little, I had an aversion to most sweets, especially milk-based ones. There were two desserts I adored, though. One was puran poli, the other was pradhaman. My mom – she of the gigantic sweet tooth – would prepare one of these in addition to the mandatory payasam/kheer (rice pudding with milk) for any special occasion.
Puran, in Marathi (the lingua franca of Bombay, where I grew up), is sweet filling and poli is flatbread. In southern India, it is known as Obbattu (Karnataka), Bobbatlu/Bhakshalu (Andhra Pradesh), and Boli (Tamil Nadu) and is a part of many festive menus.
Now, while she was a phenomenal cook, amma was happy to outsource the job if she could. She never ever baked a cake or steamed a dhokla. If the neighbourhood bakery or snack shop could do it more efficiently, she’d rather spend that hour or two doing something else. So was the case with puran poli. She would buy it from a guy down the street, who got a fresh batch daily.
It tasted wonderful, but amma decided that she’d prefer whole wheat flour (atta) to refined, and jaggery to sugar. So she started making her own. I’m glad she did, ‘cos they were the best puran polis I’ve ever eaten. Thicker than usual – like a stuffed paratha, with lots of ghee (clarified butter). :yes:
When I thought they couldn’t get any better, she kicked it up a notch by using date jaggery (khejur gur) which she got from a Bengali friend.
While I don’t have any of her recipes, I tried making puran polis this weekend, guesstimating the ingredients and proportions. We used regular (cane) jaggery, and they turned out just like hers.
The puran (stuffing) is usually made with chana dal – split husked Bengal gram. It tastes equally good with split, husked mung beans (mung dal).
Makes one dozen.
3 cups chapati flour/atta (finely ground whole wheat flour)
**if unavailable, use regular whole wheat flour mixed with all purpose flour
a tiny pinch of salt
1.25 cups warm milk
Knead to a soft, but not sticky dough. Let it rest covered for 30 minutes, then divide into 12 equal portions. Roll into balls, dusting with a bit of flour, if necessary. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and keep aside.
1 cup chana dal (split, husked Bengal gram)
with 1/3 cup of water in a pressure cooker on medium for 1 whistle, or on the stovetop until just done. The dal should be whole and not mushy. If cooking on the stovetop, use more water (about 1 cup). Drain the liquid and save it for a soup or some other dish.
Spread the cooked lentils on a kitchen towel, leave for a few minutes to cool and pat dry.
Pulse in a blender for a few seconds until ground to a coarse powder.
the pods of 3 green cardamoms
1.25 cups powdered jaggery (or sugar)
and grind the whole thing to a VERY SMOOTH slightly sticky powder. If it is too wet and sticky, cook it down for a few minutes until it becomes the consistency of a soft cake. If you stick a spoon in it, the spoon should stand upright. If it is too dry, you will have dry polis. Make sure the mixture forms a ball, but is a tad moist.
Edited to add: My mom’s polis had nutmeg too. Now, I recall the faint nutmeg flavour. Add a pinch.
Mix the puran with your hand and roll into 12 balls.
Roll out each ball of dough to a circle about 3 to 3.5 inches in diameter.
Brush 1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter) and place a ball of stuffing in the middle.
Gently pull the edges of the dough towards the top of the stuffing.
Enclose it completely and pinch the edges of the dough together.
Flatten the stuffed dough gently, dust with flour, and follow the same procedure until all the stuffing and dough is used up.
Heat a griddle on medium. We like cast iron, and heat more than one at a time. Roll out the dough gently to a disc about 10 inches in diameter, taking care not to break it. If it does tear, stick a small piece of dough on the tear to seal it. .
Place the disc of dough on the griddle and heat on medium until brown spots appear on one side. Then turn over and let brown spots appear on the other side.
Brush 1/2 tsp ghee on the top and edges of the poli. Ignore J as he prods you with his camera and says, “Wait, don’t flip it now. If it burns, you can hide it at the bottom of the stack.” :huh: Flip it over.
Brush 1/2 tsp ghee on the other side. Beat off cameraman with a rolling pin.
When it screams, “EAT ME !!!”, take it off the pan.
And to Mythreyee at Paajaka for Sweet Series: Sweet Rotis.