Friday, January 12, 2018

Puran Poli (Vedmi)

An Indian flatbread made from wheat flour dough and stuffed with sweetened lentil filling, Puran Poli is a must have for the festive season or otherwise!

Makar Sankrant is a around the corner and I am getting ready with all my Chikkis, Undhiya, Ponk vada and of course kites. This Indian festival is celebrated in different parts of the country as Makar Sankranti in Gujarat an Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Lohri in Punjab. While the names and traditions vary, the theme of celebrating is to make something from the fresh produce in the farms. 

Plus, it is winter in the country and a perfect time to have dishes that boost immunity and provide warmth. Sesame, jaggery, rice and sugarcane are the most popular ingredients used to make the dishes. 

In Gujarat, the most popular dish enjoyed with all the colorful kites is Undhiyu. A combination of winter special vegetables, a special spice mix and deep fried gram flour dumplings, this delicacy is enjoyed by everyone. Along with that another dish that is commonly made is Puran Poli. This is a form of sweet bread, wheat dough outer and lentil and jaggery stuffing. The translation of the term is rather straightforward; puran means stuffing and poli means roti. So basically it is a roti stuffed with a sweet jaggery filling. It is also called Vedmi in some parts of Gujarat. 

Though Puran Poli is a little tricky to make, patience and practice will help make it perfect! The recipe has two main elements, making a perfect puran or stuffing and making a pliable dough that is not very dry. Once these two elements are made well, dishing out the polis is pretty easy. 

In the last few years I started making Puran Poli by myself and learnt a few things each time I made mine. From the puran being very thin and not great to roll out the puran polis to it being overcooked and chewy, I have done it all. Using some of my grandma's tricks and learning from my mistakes, I now make them pretty well. 

My learnings

There are few things I learnt over the years and here they are: cook the stuffing till it is thick. To make sure it is done right, place a spoon in the pan of stuffing. If it stands without falling, shut off the gas immediately. 

Do not skip the oil and salt in the dough. The oil makes the dough easy to roll and the salt helps balance the sweetness of the stuffing. They play an important role in making delicious Puran Polis.

Do a taste test of the puran while it cooks. Every jaggery is different and the puran should taste a little extra sweet by itself. That way when stuffed in the rotis, it makes perfect puran polis. If the puran is less sweet, the final product will be bland.

While I made it using tuvar dal, the Maharashtrian way of making it is using Channa Dal. While all the steps remain same, the dal needs to be cooked for 5-6 whistles as it is harder than tuvar dal. These puran polis are generally served with Aamti and taste amazing too! 

I hope you try this at home and do share how they turn out for you. wishing everyone a Happy Sankranti, Pongal and Lohri! 

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For the stuffing

Tuvar (Arhar) Dal 3/4 cup
Jaggery 3/4 cup
Water 2 1/2 cups
Ground Cardamon seeds 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg Powder a pinch
Saffron a few strands

For the outer covering

Whole Wheat Flour 1 cup
Water 1/3 cup
Oil 1 tbsp
Salt a pinch
Ghee/Clarified butter to top


To make the stuffing

In the pressure cooker base add the dal and wash it several times till the water runs clean. Soak the dal in enough water for 30-35 minutes. 

After 35 minutes, drain the water and add 2 1/2 cups water. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles till the dal is cooked but not mushy. Once the pressure releases, drain the dal using a sieve to remove all the excess water. Mash the dal while removing all the moisture. 

In a pan heat jaggery with the mashed dal. As it cooks, the jaggery melts and becomes syrupy. Mix well and keep cooking on medium flame till the mixture thickens. It takes about 30-35 minutes, ensuring the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan. 

Once cooked, remove a tsp of the mixture and try to form a ball. If it stays, the puran is cooked. If it falls apart, cook a little more. Alternatively, try to place a clean spoon in the puran. If it stands in the mixture, the puran is done. Once cooked well, add ground cardamom, ground nutmeg and saffron strands. Mix well and let the mixture cool.

To make the outer covering

Mix together wheat flour, oil, and salt. Using water as required, bind the dough to make a smooth soft ball. Do not use extra water else the dough will be sticky. About 1/3 cup should suffice. Place the dough in a bowl and cover. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

To make the Puran Poli

Once the puran has cooled and the dough has been standing for a while, it is time to start making the puran polis. To do so, divide the dough and the puran into six equal parts. Heat a tava on the side.

Using a dough ball and some dry flour, roll out a 3 inch circle. Place a puran ball in the centre and seal the dough edges. Use little fry flour and roll this out to a disc 5-6 inches in diameter. Repeat for the remaining 5 dough and puran balls. 

Once the tava is hot, place one puran poli on it. Once it starts to puff, turn it over and apply some ghee. Again turn over and apply ghee. Once you see brown spots on both sides, remove from tava and apply ghee on top. 

Serve with Sookhi Moong Dal, Cabbage stir fry, steamed rice, Gujarati kadhi, extra ghee and salad. 

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