Food blogging is a funny business. Sometimes you get so caught up in the whole “Will it look good on the blog?”, “How well can I style and photograph it?” trap. It is a shame really. This means that many gem of a recipe gets shoved away for not being photogenic enough. Like these sweet lentil stuffed flatbreads or puran poli. I make it all the time and have always wanted to blog about it. I simply needed a slight nudge in the right direction. Sometimes all it takes is a new perspective from outside, and that’s exactly what friends are for. I was talking to Sonal about it one day and she told me I should just go for it. Perfection is a great aspiration, but not an absolute necessity of life. What do you think?
Puran poli are basically special flatbreads filled with a sweet lentil mixture and cooked in a liberal dose of ghee. The filling is usually made with chana dal or split Bengal gram and grated jaggery, a kind of unrefined cane sugar which has a deeper flavor than regular sugar. The dough is typically made with all-purpose flour, because puran poli is more of a special occasion bread rather than an everyday affair.
But if you know me, you should also know that I rarely do anything by the books. I sometimes use moong dal or split green gram for the filling. I find it easier to cook and lighter on the tummy as well. I also use atta or fine-milled whole wheat flour for the dough.
But one thing I do not skimp on is the jaggery. These are available as big or small blocks in any Indian store. You can easily grate them to use in this recipe. Here in the States, sometimes I can easily find panela, which is a Latin American version of the jaggery. I have occasionally used dark brown sugar as well, but do try to find jaggery for best results.
To begin, make the filling or puran first. The lentils are cooked till soft, then mixed with the jaggery and some cardamom powder for flavor. This is cooked further till fairly dry and mashed well to make a smooth mixture. This puran filling itself is an excellent snack especially for kids since it is packed with protein.
The filling gets stuffed in small pockets of dough. This is then rolled out as flatbreads (poli) and cooked with ghee on a hot griddle or tawa.
I like to serve puran poli with more ghee smeared on top. There is no such thing as too much ghee in a lifetime, if you ask me!
The best thing about puran poli is that they can be a meal on their own. They are filling and nourishing, not to mention super delicious. The filling makes the flatbreads super soft and flaky as you can see in the picture below.
- Chana dal (spilt bengal gram) or moong dal (split green gram) - 1 cup
- Ghee - 1 tbsp
- Jaggery - 1 cup, grated
- Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
- Salt - a pinch
- Atta (fine milled whole wheat flour) - 2 cups (or use part whole wheat and part all-purpose flours)
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Ghee - 2 tsp plus extra for cooking the puran poli
- Water - 1 cup or as needed to make a smooth dough
- To make the filling or puran: Wash the dal (lentils) under running water a couple of times. If you have time, soak them in water for an hour or two. Cook dal in 2-3 cups of water till soft and can be easily mashed between your fingers. They must not be too mushy though. Drain and set aside. Reserve the stock to make curries or to mix the dough.
- Heat ghee in a large pan. Add the cooked dal, grated jaggery, cardamom powder and salt. Stir and cook till well combined and the mixture is fairly dry. Mash this with a thick ladle or a potato masher (traditionally, a puran yantra or puran masher is used for this). Cool completely before using to make the flatbreads.
- To make dough: Take the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt and 2 tsp ghee. Mix with your fingers to make a crumbly mixture.
- Add water, a little at a time, to make a dough. Knead this dough well for a few minutes to make it smooth and elastic. Cover and rest dough for 15-30 minutes before using.
- To make flatbreads: Divide dough into 8-10 equal portions and roll into smooth balls.
- Roll each dough ball into a small circle 3"-4" in diameter. Place 2 heaped tablespoons of cooled filling in the middle and gather the ends to make a dough pouch. Pinch the ends sealed and flatten it slightly.
- Roll this out carefully on a well-floured surface to 8" or 10" round circles.
- Heat a griddle on medium-high heat and brush some ghee all over the griddle. Cook the flatbreads on both sides till lightly browned. If you have kneaded and rolled the dough properly, you will find that the flatbread puffs up beautifully. Repeat till all the dough is used up.
- Smear some more ghee on the cooked puran poli and store in a bread basket. Serve warm as is or with extra filling on the side or even a light dal curry.
2. You can add some more spices in the filling like powdered ginger or nutmeg as well. I usually use just cardamom.
3. You can use all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or a combination to make the dough. Make sure the dough is soft and smooth.
The stock reserved from cooking dal is usually used to make something called katachi amti, a thin dal curry. Both puran poli and katachi amti are traditional Maharashtrian recipes.
Serve warm puran polis for an after-school snack, dinner or even breakfast. I usually make more filling than needed and snack on it the next couple of days.
Do you think I should share more everyday, simple recipes on the blog?
Have you tried puran poli? Do you use a different recipe or method? Do share.
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