Heard the old saying, too many cooks spoil a dish? Well, I don’t think so. Too many cooks give too many suggestions, but they also have too much fun, laughter, and sweet memories of cooking together. My sweet friend M, who happens to be an expert cook, was going to India. And instead of us giving her a farewell treat; she thought she would give us all a treat. She wanted all of us to get together at her place and cook something special. Well, some of our non-Maharashtrian friends had heard so much about puran poli and M was the only one who could make it from scratch to end..So, puran poli it was going to be.
Puran Poli is the traditional Maharashtrian dish made from stuffing jaggery in wheat balls and then rolling the flour. This dish is mostly made during Holi. I remember shouting “Holi re holi purnachi poli” when the holi was set afire. Kannadas refer to this sweet as Holige, while Telugus call it Obbattu. Whatever you call it, the truth remains the same – puran polis are everyone’s favorite. The stuffing can be made of coconut and jaggery, or white sugar (pithi sakhar), or of lentils. More about puran poli on Wiki. Puran polis are always served with a generous helping of ghee. I like to dip them in milk or pour the milk over the poli so that they literally melt in my mouth.
Puran poli reminds me of Holi back in India that I am so much going to miss this year. My mom makes puran polis every year. She makes the puran the previous day and on the day of playing colors (Rangapanchami) my dad uses the puran yantra (a manual machine with a handle) and softens the puran. Mom starts making polis once we go out to play colors and stops after we come home some 3-4 hours later. After we consume 2-3 polis, our eyes become too droopy..Yes, all the ghee and puran definitely makes you sleepy..so, we do nothing else but take a long afternoon nap and then wake up to eat more polis for dinner. And yes, we sure keep some for the next day..they taste more delicious.
Over the years, I started helping Aai make the polis. I learnt how to fill the dough but always kept messing up. Well, this time I wanted to see, learn, and experiment everything from start to end. So, off I went to help and enjoy. Our other friends started coming one by one, and soon the kitchen was filled with 7-8 females helping out with different stages of making the polis. Here’s the recipe and some photos. This is my entry for Trupti's Spring Fling 2007 event.
Holi special - Puran Poli
Makes around 25-30 polis
For the puran
1.1 kg chana daal
2.¾ kg jaggery
3.1/4th tsp nutmeg powder
4.1 tsp saunf powder
5.1 tsp cardamom pwder
6.1 tsp soonth (ginger powder)
For the flour
1.5 cups wheat flour (maida optional)
2.Pinch of salt
1.Wash the chana daal in 2-3 changes of water. Cut the jaggery. Check if you have powders of all other ingredients; else grind them in the mixer.
2.Pressure cook the chana daal with one whistle. Set aside for some time. Check if the daal is so cooked that of you mash it with your finger, it gets mashed, but doesn’t turn into pulp. Drain the water only if it is excess, otherwise preserve it for cooking.
(Jy and Pa transferring the daal)
3.Cook the daal on medium flame. Add jaggery. Keep stirring from time to time.
4.After some time, add all the powders.
5.Keep stirring so that the daal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the vessel.
(Me stirring the daal)
6.The daal will thicken after an hour. Take a wooden spoon and place it in the daal. If it stands on its own without falling, it indicates the puran is ready.
7.Now, comes the difficult part. Mash the puran using the chopper, puran yantra, or masher. The puran should turn soft.
(Pa mashing the puran)
(Va churning the puran in our make-shift churner)
8.Make dough of the flour just like you make for making chapattis.
(Dough made by Sm)
9.Make small balls of the puran.
10.Take a little bit of dough at a time and roll it into small chappatis.
(Me and As making small chapattis)
11.Now, comes the fun-filled and challenging part. Hold the small chapatti in your hand. Bring your fingers closer so that your hand forms a cavity (similar to a lotus).
12.Add the puran in this chapatti. Close the chapatti from all sides. Press lightly from both sides.
(M filling the puran)
(Me and Sm filling the puran)
13.Dip both sides into flour. Roll the chappati delicately. Sprinkle flour from time to time. If your chapatti splits open from somewhere, patch it up with flour.
(M rolling the poli)
14.Heat a flat pan. Place the poli on the pan and cook on both sides. Pour ghee while cooking.
(Sh cooking the poli)
(Done..ready to eat)
15.Serve hot with ghee and milk.
(Looks delicious, eh?)
Verdict: The puran polis were simply delicious. I learnt doing everything – filling the puran, rolling the dough. The entire process from start to finish took approximately 5 hours. But don’t let the time and efforts daunt you – puran polis are definitely worth all the effort.
We also made katachi amti (a spicy curry made from puran), rice, and saffron milk alongwith the puran poli. So, it was a memorable feast all in all. Thanks M for making it happen!
Wish you all a colorful and happy Holi! May your life be filled with bright colors througout the year!