Have you ever disliked any particular food just because it had a silly colour, it oozed oil and any such trivial reason? Well, I have.
Thinking back, I have disliked many reasonably nice dishes just because they were not the colour of my choice and other excuses that have no logic. However, I have refused to taste many often made dishes.
Puran Poli was one such dish. Until I was about ten years of age, this is the one sweet dish prepared during most of the religious occasions. The sight of the outer dough prepared and dripping with oil to make it elastic was such a put off for me. That too with the amount of turmeric added to it used to be a repulsive sight to me. ( Well, I was a snob then, you see). Later how I relished parattas made in wayside shops, I dare not think about.
After refusing to taste even a bit of this and getting away with it, once around my mid-teens I had this from a temple. Needless to say I never turned it down ever since, but by then my mother switched to trying simpler dishes for all the not so elaborate religious functions.
Then I was hooked on to making them. I enjoyed how pliable the dough was to play with your palms and with just the oil you had added to the dough the entire sweet dish was done. Only if you desired so, you added ghee to relish it further. Otherwise it is purely suitable for vegans too.
I started following a protocol after my marriage to try making all that I learnt on different occasions.This used to be my choice sweet for Chandramana Ugadi.
This year I had skipped making sweet for that festival with all my personal effects sitting in the shipment bound to Ghana. So I went ahead and made it yesterday for Bhogi, distributed to my household staff and two very close family friends who are not able to celebrate this year. We enjoyed them and done with the lot by today.
I follow the recipe given in S.Meenakshi Ammal cookbook Samaiththu paar. I go by volume of ingredients and it always works out perfect. I use my stainless steel coffee tumbler measure of 180ml as a standard measure. For the recipe below I could make 27 polis.
For the filling:
Channa dhal 2 cups
Freshly scrapped coconut 2 cups (loosely packed)
Powdered jaggery 2 cups heaped and another 1/2 of a cup
Powdered cardamom 2 teaspoons
For the outer coating:
All purpose flour 3 cups
Turmeric powder a pinch
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
Water 3/4ths of a cup to 1 cup for making a pliable dough
Sesame seeds oil 1/3 of the cup ( any cooking oil should be fine. I recommend sesame seeds oil.)
If you are shallow frying on a non-stick tawa, this oil is sufficient. If not few drops of oil will be required to help lifting the poli off the tawa.
It is easier to prepare the outer dough first and to allow it to rest for long.
Seive the salt, turmeric powder and the flour together. Add two teaspoons of oil and rub it in.
Add water gradually and mix the dough to be soft and pliable.
Add the oil in small portions and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Do not use all of the oil in one go. You may use the kneading hooks with the electric mixer and achieve the consistency easily.
Allow the dought o rest for 1/2 an hour. Again knead for a few minutes and pour the rest of the oil. Cover and allow to rest. The resting time can be anywhere between four hours to overnight.
Now proceed to prepare the filling.
Wash the channa dhal and soak in clean water for an hour. Drain and pressure cook with little water until soft. The dhal should be whole but mashable when pinched between fingers.
Drain the excess water. Allow to cool and pulse in small quantities in a mixer. This helps the dhal to become powder and easy to mix with the coconut and jaggery mix. Keep aside.
Dissolve jaggery in a pan and remove scum by straining. Bring to a boil and allow to become a sticky syrup. ( Boil for about 7 minutes). Add the coconut and mix well until well blended and a bit dry. Take this off the fire and add the powdered dhal and the cardamom powder. Mix thoroughly.
The filling is now ready.
If the outer dough has not been prepared earlier, you may refridgerate this.
Divide the filling in equal portions and shape in balls. The very plaint outer dough also can be divided in equal number of portions as the filling. The dough will be oozing oil. This oil can be used to grease the banana leaf or plastic sheet on which you will shape the polis.
These are patted and flattened by our palms. If you desire to make rolling them with the pin, you may reduce the quantity of oil added to the dough and use flour for dusting and rolling.
Place the sheet or leaf on top of a board. Grease the surface.
Take one portion of the dough and flatten it into a disc.
Place in the centre a ball of the filling. Pull at the sides of the dough to cover completely the filling.
Greasing your palms lightly pat the ball in a disc. Take care not to allow the coating to tear. Similarly the dough should not be allowed to move away to the circumference. This may sound tricky but practice maketh perfect.
Keep three or four such dics ready before placing the tawa on the fire. Heat the tawa and carefully peel off the prepred poli on the hot tawa.
Cook well on both sides. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Proceed thus with the entire dough and filling. Place the cooked polis apart until very cool. Placing them one on top of another might result in the polis sticking to each other and tearing at the upper surface.
Serve with small amout of ghee over them. Though they acn be relished just as they have been cooked, adding ghee makes them even better.
Hope you all had a great Pongal (I am posting this late.)Shall post pongal recipes soon.
This paruppu poli is off to be featured in Susan - The Well Seasoned Cook's MLLA being hosted @ EC's Simple Indian Food running the 19th Edition this January.