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This Indian sweet flatbread is perfect with chai. A moong dal and coconut sugar filling makes for a very delicate roti that is drenched in ghee and eaten during occasions.
Puran Poli/Holige is a popular Indian sweet that originates from Maharashtra and Southern India. This delicacy is no easy affair. It demands your time and attention to ensure flaky and fluffy rotis that just melt in your mouth but I love having them with masala chai. The soft bread is stuffed with a moong dal and coconut sugar mixture. Now, ideally you want to make the mixture with sugar or jaggery but I made it with coconut sugar, it was oh-so-good!
Traditionally this is made during festivals and occasions hence you would mainly find it in stores or sweet shops around Holi, Diwali, Dusshera, Ganesh Chaturthi and many more. This time I decided to make some for Ganesh Chaturthi. It comes as a surprise but I am a Roman Catholic however with my dad being Hindu we have the pleasure of celebrating a lot of special occasions at home. Naturally, they are always accompanied with good food to say the least.
Before I go on, let me briefly explain what is Ganesh Chaturthi – Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinakaya Chaturthi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha to earth, the God of wisdom and prosperity. It begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar. The celebration continues for 10 days with music, food, gatherings and dancing. Through this time, towards the end of the 10 days, people immerse Lord Ganesha Idols into water to symbolize a full circle of life with His creation from Earth and back to the ocean.
Now that we have understood a little about the festival, let us talk about the food. Growing up we didn’t make Puran poli at home, cause it was a tedious affair and mom would burn the house down while trying to make them. In saying this that doesn’t mean I never ate a dozen or two, we always bought them in packets from the sweet shops around the house and waited for neighbors to share their homemade ones with us.
Since then I have made them at home with the guidance and help of others who were masters. Once such individual was Joel Murze – I never thought of making these indulgent treats at home until he was making it at home one day and I was blown away that something so labor some was such a joy to make and even more pleasurable to eat.
So it is not a surprise when I say that I made this for the first time all on my own a couple of days ago and it is all thanks to Deepika. This little genius (if you know Deepika you’ll get the pun intended here) is an author of a magically authentic Indian book by the name of Coconut Grove. The recipes feel like they are out of her mothers stained and tattered hand book, and they are so genuine to say the least. She kindly allowed me to share this recipe from her cookbook today, so all credits and props go to her and her book which you can find online.
I did follow the recipe to the dot but I improvised in certain places as I didn’t have the time or ingredients to make it exactly as she did but I made a successful product that was devoured in a day. I made the dough in my stand mixer cause I didn’t have the time to pound it or knead it by hand as suggested. But I did stop the mixer every now and then to check the softness/elasticity.
I didn’t use all the oil as required in the recipe as my dough got elastic and stretchy after a certain amount, so it is important to keep feeling your dough if you aren’t making it by hand. I would recommend getting a bag of patience with you to ensure you don’t skip on any of the important steps. A key step here, is allowing the dough to rest for at least 8 hours – according to Deepika, I let mine rest for 3 hours and got away with it.
As for the filling, I soaked my moong dal over night and drained out the cloudy water, boiled it until it was soft but not mushy as Deepika says. I proceeded to make the filling with coconut sugar as I didn’t have jaggery and didn’t want to use white sugar here but you absolutely could. This took patience too as I was ensuring the mixture is stirred constantly so that it doesn’t burn at the bottom.
The filling is rolled into balls before stuffing into the dough and rolling out. This should be done with love and care – not with – anger and frustration, as the filling needs to say inside the dough and not come out. Once these are made you cannot skimp on the ghee. Please don’t be silly and find the generosity in your heart to drizzle that ghee on top.
They store well in the the freezer or in the fridge for a good amount of time, I don’t know this first hand as the ones I made were over in the same day but Deepika says so and I believe her. She suggests to reheat them with some ghee before eating/serving.
If you want to learn more such recipes and understand about the Indian Coastal Flavors you can grab your copy of the Coconut Grove here. Also, here is a link to Deepika’s Instagram account to let her know what you thought about the recipe.
Well I think lets get started, Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Ninjas!
- Planetary mixer/Pestle & Flat plate
- Mixing bowl
- Stock pot
- Frying pan/Tava
- 300 gm All purpose flour
- 150 gm Oil approx + extra for covering the dough
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 3/4 cup Water
- 1 tsp Salt
- 500 gm Moong Dal
- 2 cups Coconut sugar see notes*
- 1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
- Ghee to cook
- Soak your moong dal overnight in a bowl.
- In a planetary mixer add the ingredients for the dough, except for the oil and using a paddle attachment mix the dough together until its combined. Switch to a dough hook and start adding one drop of oil at a time while the machine is on. Add as much oil as needed to make the dough elastic and soft. This will take time. Be patient. Add the oil only once the dough has absorbed the previous amount of oil. You can do this by hand as Deepika mentions, use a pestle and flat plate to make the dough soft, pounding constantly.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and drown in oil. This is to help the dough from drying out. We will drain out this oil once it has rested before portioning and rolling out. Ideally this has to rest for 8 hours but I rested it for a couple of hours and got away with it.
- To make the filling drain out the water from the dal, transfer to a stock pot and cover with double the amount of water. Boil until the dal is soft but not mushy.
- Strain it out and add the dal back into the same pot. Add the coconut sugar and season with salt at this stage. It will get wet and glossy but keep cooking it on medium heat until the mixture thickens up and the mixture isn’t wet anymore. Add the cardamom powder and stir.
- Leave to cool. Portion the mixture into 30 small balls. Set aside.
- Drain the excess oil from the dough out and save it for cooking at a later time. Portion the dough into 30 little pieces and roll into balls.
- Flatten each ball between your palms and place the moong dal ladoo in the center. Fold the dough over, encase the ladoo inside. Repeat with all the pieces of dough and the ladoos.
- Flatten each ball out gently between your palms and gently roll it out thin with the help of some flour and a rolling pin.
- Heat a pan/tava and cook on each side till you see light brown spots. Cook on low to medium heat. It should puff up well if you have rolled it out evenly. Drizzle with ghee or melted butter. Repeat with all the flattened discs.
- According to Deepika, If you cook it dry then you can keep it for longer in the refrigerator or even freeze it. To use it within a few days, cook with ghee or oil. You can heat it lightly and serve with melted ghee drizzled on top at the time of serving.
- *Coconut sugar: You can use white sugar here as per Deepika’s Cookbook. You can also use grated jaggery.
- Be patient while adding the oil into the dough while kneading as it will absorb the oil slowly.
- Ensure to let the dough rest well in the oil bath. This will keep your Puran Polis soft and fluffy.
- Make sure to cook the dal until it is thick and dry or else they won’t form ladoos.
- Don’t be shy on using the ghee while serving.