Mar 2, 2007

Too many cooks...

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, 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.

(Cut jaggery)

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!


Manasi said...

Purnachi poli, katachi amti!! Wah wah!! too good!
The recipe is perfect and nice details! looks like u gyus had a lovely time!
Happy Holi!!

Latha said...

Hey Swapna,
What fun! Looks like all your girls had a lot of fun... There's nothing like cooking together and the lovely memories attached to that! Not to mention the yummy puran polis!
Thanks for the steop-by -step pictures!

swapna said...

wow swapna
thats pretty cool!!what a great presentation!!!!!hats off to ur patience!!puran poli is looking yummyy!!!happy holi to u too..

bee ( said...

that looks outrageously good. exactly how my mom made it. i don't like the maida ones. the whole wheat flour version has a lot more flavour and texture. i'm totaly making this. or getting my better half to make it. :-))

thanks for the recipe.

A Yunus said...

Hi Swapna,

hope this is first time Iam visiting here. Fell in love with those puranpoli...I am a lover of that stuffing..I make ure that atleast half if it is gone, before it gets stuffed...oh i miss it...great pics and notes!!

Swapna said...

Manasi, Latha, and Swapna: A big thanks for all your lovely comments..Cooking with friends is truly memorable..
Bee: Even I don't prefer using too much maida..The healthier, the better..
Yunus: I and my younger bro used to pester mom and eat hot puran straight from the vessel..The aroma is too tempting:-)

Anupama said...

It was fun to read your puran poli making episode. I love it too. Just one suggestion if you don't mind. For the dough use half and half quantities of Whole wheat flour and Maida. Use more oil than you normally would for the dough.It increases the elasticity of the dough. Hope you don't mind my suggestions.

Swapna said...

Hey Anupama,
Thanks a lot for your suggestions. My mom also uses half-half quantities of both..Shall try that next time.I am always open to honest comments and feedback:)So, keep them coming..

nina said...

Hi swapna,
That was great, came here for the first time and lovely to see pictures and am drooling it looks so yummy!!!
Now have to try it . thank you

Anonymous said...

Toooooooooooooooo beautiful pictures and a beautiful way of presenting it, a small favour can u please tell me how to prepare Katachi Aamti.

Tks. in advance.

Amanda, Australia

Anonymous said...

Hi dear,

Nice ways of presenting it to people like us. Can u please tell us how to prepare Katachi Aamti.

Tks. in advance.

Amanda, Australia