Puran Poli is a traditional flatbread that’s stuffed with a mixture of cooked chana dal (Bengal Gram) and jaggery. Considered a rich festive treat, these sweet Puran Polis are served with dollops of melting ghee (clarified butter) and are usually made to celebrate festivals like ‘Holi’.
The liquid in which the lentils are cooked is at times used to make a spicy curry called ‘Katachi Amti’. A bite of the sweet Puran Poli, generously coated with ghee and dipped in this curry tastes very good and is a popular combination in Maharashtra. We Goans love to savour our Puran Poli with melted ghee, while the Gujaratis use an entirely different variety of lentils to make their sweet Polis. Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and sweet Holi!
Running to Yashoda on a full moon night,
Distress written across His face glowing bright,
“Why am I as dark as black night
While Radha is blessed with pearlescent skin of white?!”
“Why don’t you apply this colour to her face?”
Said mother Yashoda, giving Krishna a solution full of grace.
“Saffron, vermillion, violet and azure,
Everyone will look the same, smeared with these colours, I’m sure!”
Burn away your anger, sorrow and plight,
As demonic Holika’s effigy is set aflame tonight!
Burn not like Kama with the embers of desire,
Reduced to ash as he was by Lord Shiva’s divine fire.
Sacrifice to Nature our first grains of wheat,
Our heartfelt prayers will the land thus meet.
“Happy Holi!” do we wish everyone we greet,
As we share delicacies that are delightfully sweet!
With cool, clear water and bright colours do we play,
Celebrating Rangapanchami in a most vibrant way.
But the lessons of mythology we do not forget,
As we rejoice this Spring, our hearts full of Hope yet!
For the Puran:
(Enough for 20 Puran Polis)
- 1 cup Yellow Split Peas/ Split Bengal Gram (Chana Dal)
- 1 cup Jaggery
- 2 teaspoons Fennel seeds (Badishep)
- 6-7 Cardamom Pods (Elaichi)
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Ghee (Clarified Butter)
- 1 teaspoon Dry Ginger Powder (Sunth)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
For the Poli Dough:
(Makes 12 medium-sized Puran Polis)
- 1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour (Maida)
- 1 1/2 cups Whole-wheat Flour (Atta)
- 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
- Water, as required
- 1 teaspoon Salt
To make the Puran:
Rinse the chana dal and place in a large non-stick pan. Add in 2 1/2 cups of water and keep the pan on medium-low flame until the dal cooks. Stir the dal now and again, checking to see how much it’s softened. The dal should take about 25-30 minutes to cook. At this point, you will be able to crush the dal between your fingers easily. However, the dal will still be quite firm and not too soft or mushy.
Alternatively, the dal may be cooked in a pressure cooker with 2 1/2 cups of water. The cooker should take about 4 to 5 whistles, by which time, the dal would have softened.
Strain the dal and save the liquid in which it has cooked. Leave the dal aside to cool.
Dry roast the fennel seeds and cardamom seeds until fragrant. In a mortar and pestle, grind the roasted seeds with 2 tablespoons of sugar so as to obtain a fine powder.
Grind the cool dal in a blender/mixer, adding in a little bit of the liquid in which it was cooked. Add only as much liquid as is needed to grind the dal into a smooth paste.
In a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-stick pan, melt two tablespoons of ghee. Add in the dry ginger powder and the fennel & cardamom powder. Stir in the jaggery and once melted, add in the ground dal. Cook the dal mixture on very low heat, stirring regularly to prevent the mixture from burning. The dal mixture will at first appear more liquid because of the melting jaggery. As the mixture continues to cook on low flame, the liquid will evaporate and the dal mixture will thicken. Stir in the salt and mix well. Cook the mixture until it starts to leave the sides of the pan. Leave the dal mixture aside to cool completely. Transfer the dal mixture or ‘Puran’ to an airtight container and store in a dry, cool place overnight.
We will need only about half of the Puran mixture to make 12 Puran Polis. The extra Puran mixture can be frozen in an airtight box for up to two weeks. Simply thaw the Puran mixture in the fridge overnight and make fresh Polis the next morning.
To make the Puran Poli Dough:
In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and salt. Add the vegetable oil alternating with the water, a little at a time, binding the flour into a ball of dough. Knead the dough until it feels soft and smooth but not sticky. If the dough feels too sticky, add some more flour, a tablespoon at a time, to bring the dough together. Coat the ball of dough with a light layer of vegetable oil. Cover the bowl with cling film/ plastic wrap and leave the dough to rest for fifteen minutes.
To make the Puran Poli:
Place a heavy-bottomed, non-stick pan on low flame to preheat while you make a Poli.
Divide the Poli Dough into small balls, each about 2 inches in diameter. Keep a tea towel or napkin handy to cover the dough balls while you work. This prevents the dough from drying out.
Here’s a drawing of what my work surface looks like before I begin to roll out the Puran Polis:
Generously dust your board and rolling pin with flour.
To make a Poli, place a ball of dough on your board. Use the rolling pin to roll the ball into a circle, about 3 inches in diameter. Now take about a tablespoon and a half of the Puran mixture and place it in the centre of the circle made of dough. Gently fold up the edges of the dough so as to enclose the Puran mixture completely. Pinch together the folds of dough that gather on top, making sure that the Puran mixture is completely sealed within the dough.
Dust the stuffed dough ball on both sides with flour. Place the ball of dough on your board and roll it out into a circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter. Roll the dough gently, lifting and turning the circle often to make sure it does not stick to the board. Dust the circle, board and rolling pin with flour to prevent the dough from sticking and tearing. Continue to roll out the dough slowly until you can make it as thin as possible, without the Puran stuffing falling out.
Melt half a teaspoon of ghee in the preheated pan, increasing the flame to medium. Gently lift up the rolled out Poli and place it on the hot pan. The Poli will begin to sizzle and cook immediately. When you see little ‘puffs’ appear on the top of the Puran Poli, it is ready to be turned. Use a spatula to gently flip the Poli onto the other side. Drizzle another teaspoon of ghee around the Poli, helping it to cook. You may use the spatula to gently press down along the sides of the Poli, helping the steam within it to cook the dough. When the Poli puffs up, gently flip it over with the spatula to check if it has cooked.
A good Puran Poli is said to be one that puffs up as it cooks and has a few reddish-brown marks (as seen on a well-made Chapati or Naan). Once the Puran Poli has cooked, transfer it to a plate lined with kitchen roll. Lower the flame while you continue to roll out another Poli as described above.
Drizzle some ghee over the warm Puran Poli and serve immediately! The Leftover Polis may be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container for up to two days or frozen for up to two weeks.
Half a teaspoon of Turmeric (Haldi) powder or a few drops of yellow food colour may be added to the Poli dough to give the Puran Polis a bright yellow appearance. We’ve left it out of the recipe above.
To make 10-12 Puran Polis, we will need only about half of the Puran mixture. Feel free to cut the quantities of the Puran ingredients in half. The extra Puran mixture can be frozen in an airtight box for up to two weeks. Simply thaw the Puran mixture in the fridge, overnight and make fresh Polis the next morning.
We love to make a stash of Puran Polis at one go, wrap each extra Poli in cling film/plastic wrap and freeze it for later. That way, whenever we’re in the mood for Puran Poli, we can simply heat the Poli in the microwave for a couple of minutes and enjoy! Polis may be frozen for up to two weeks, ready to be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.