Puran Poli is a festival delicacy that is also known as Boli, Obbattu etc. It is a sweet flat bread that has an outer covering made using refined flour and wheat flour. The filling (puran) can be made out of cooked bengal gram (chana) dhal lentils, jaggery and sugar or coconut, jaggery and sugar. This version uses dhal instead of coconut. It is flavored with some combination of cardamom, nutmeg (jaiphal) and saffron.
This is another one of my many joint ventures with my mom at her place in Mumbai. Although my mom makes puran polis regularly, this particular recipe was an adaptation of a recipe given by mom’s Maharashtrian neighbor, Manisha, who once dropped off a delicious batch of puran polis at our place and hence the inspiration to mimic her recipe!
Ingredients (makes approximately 10-12 medium sized polis):
- Chana (Bengal gram) dhal (1 cup)
- Jaggery (1/2 cup)
- Sugar (1/2 cup)
- Jaiphal (nutmeg) (a tiny 1/4 inch piece should do)
- Cardamom (4-5 peeled pods)
- Wheat flour (1 cup)
- Refined flour (maida) (1 cup)
- Salt (1/4 tsp)
- Turmeric (haldi) (1 tsp)
- Oil (2 tbsp)
- Ghee (1 tbsp + for applying while cooking the puran polis)
For the puran (filling):
- Soak the chana dhal for an hour or so (more soaking like 2-3 hours is great). Pressure cook, so that the dhal is well done.
- Powder some elaichi (cardamom) seeds and nutmeg to a fine consistency. If you are making a batch of this, you will have enough quantity to do this in a coffee grinder or small mixer. If not, you can pound it using a mortar and pestle. If you live in a humid clime, the nutmeg and cardamom may be too moist to pound in this manner. You can circumvent this by adding some dry sugar to the spices while pounding them. Here is a picture of nutmeg, also known as jaiphal.
- Once, the chana dhal is cooked, add the sugar, jaggery, 1 tbsp of ghee, and ground nutmeg and cardamom.
- Heat the mixture, until the chana dhal is fully mashed. The extra water should evaporate, and the mixture should become thick and homogeneous.
- Keep the above prepared puran aside for cooling. It will further thicken after cooling down. It is okay to prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate for a nice consistency. See below for a picture of the puran and the dough.
For the dough:
- Sieve the wheat flour and then the refined flour (maida). Add salt. The process of sieving serves a dual purpose of removing the solid bran parts that might be in the flours and also aerates the flours, resulting in softer, more pliable dough.
- To the above sieved flours, add oil, turmeric and enough water to get a nice sticky and oily dough.
- Keep the dough covered (optionally in a wet muslin cloth) for a couple hours. This time helps the dough to homogenize and come together well to yield softer puran polis.
- Make balls of the dough and puran. You can choose to have a slightly bigger ball for the dough than the puran or make them both about the same size, depending on your comfort level while rolling out the polis.
- First roll the dough to a circle of approximately 2.5 inches diameter.
- Add the puran in the center. Bring in the dough from all sides such that it covers the puran completely.
- Using your palms, roll the dough with the puran enclosed in it, into a ball.
- Start rolling out the ball, using a rolling pin. Make sure you keep the edges and center evenly thick. Keep applying flour (wheat) if you find that parts of the dough are sticking while rolling out.
- Place the rolled out puran poli on a tava (griddle pan) on medium heat. First heat one side and after a few seconds, flip the puran poli and apply ghee on the side that is exposed. After a few seconds, flip again, and apply ghee on the other side.
- Your yummy puran poli is now ready! Eat it piping hot with some melted ghee on the side – a sure shot hit among your friends and family!
Sweet (flours, jaggery, sugar, ghee, oil), sour (none), salty (salt), bitter (turmeric), pungent (cardamom), astringent (nutmeg).
Maida (all-purpose refined flour) is basically refined, bleached and finely milled wheat flour. Wheat with its kapha like qualities of stickiness and heaviness, is kapha aggravating. Jaggery, sugar, oil, ghee are all sweet and hence kapha aggravating. But the addition of spices like cardamom and turmeric make this okay for kaphas to consume, in moderation. Cardamom, is a tridoshic spice that helps in digestion related ailments, combats mucus production and is a calming antispasmodic. Turmeric is also largely tridoshic, but can be pitta provoking if too much is consumed. It is a great blood and liver cleanser, improves circulation, reduces inflammation, is antibacterial and improves digestion. Wheat is difficult to digest, and hence not the grain of choice for vatas. The addition of nutmeg (jaiphal) makes this okay for vatas to consume in moderation. Nutmeg is a great spice for vatas. It aids digestion and also helps in binding stools. Pittas, with their strong digestion can digest wheat well. In addition, none of the spices are pitta provoking. With the sweet taste being a good one for pitta pacification in general, this dish is great for pittas.
Puran poli made and eaten fresh, using fresh ingredients and eaten in moderation, is a very sattvic dish with its sweet, mild and nourishing tastes and flavors. It is really difficult to make puran poli rajasic, in general. Tamasic qualities will increase in this dish, like all others, if made using stale or spoiled ingredients, or consumed after too many days of preparation. In general, under refrigeration, this should stay fresh for a couple days.