The festival of colors is separated all over India but the sweet treats vary from region to region. In Maharashtra, the ‘Holi special’ food is ‘Puran poli’ which means flatbread or parantha stuffed with a sweet lentil mixture. Yum!
Holi celebrations start the night before with a bonfire lit to signify the victory of good over evil. This is followed the next morning with color and water splashing play in which everyone participates. I have wonderful memories of Holi while we (my sisters and I along with our rowdy girlfriends:)) were in our teens – used to have so much fun throwing water filled balloons on unsuspecting pedestrians from our third floor apartment balcony 🙂 oh so much fun! Alas now here, spring still being at least a couple weeks away – unfortunately no water splashing and color throwing yet 🙁 . Puran Poli, now that I can definitely make! So just made a big batch of the lentil stuffing so I can make the puran polis and celebrate Holi the entire week! 🙂
The best ‘Puran Poli’ has a really very soft and flaky cover with a smooth, sweet filling. To make a good ‘Puran poli’ you need to pay attention to two things – the dough has to be really soft and rested and the ‘puran’ which is the filling, needs to be of the right consistency – perfectly smooth (not grainy) and pasty (not dry or liquidey). Puran Polis are a traditional main course dish however, we considering it is sweet, in my family, we treat it as a side dish or even dessert.
This recipe will make about 24 puran polis with some extra stuffing leftover. Time taken: Needs advance preparation - about 1 hour 30 minutes and additional time for dough to rest(about 2-3 hours) Ingredients: For the lentil filling: 2 cups pre-soaked chana dal(slit chickpea lentils)* 2 cups water 1 cup jaggery*,shredded fine 2 tsp elaichi(cardamom powder) *: check glossary page for more information; brown sugar may be substituted for jaggery although I have not tried this recipe using brown sugar. For the Poli / rotis: 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 cup all purpose flour (maida) 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp melted butter About 1 1/2 cups room temperature water extra 1/4 cup olive oil for coating dough extra whole wheat flour for making the polis
Preparing the filling:
1. Wash the chana dal thoroughly (2-3 times with cold water) and then soak for about 3-4 hours in a large vessel such that the lentils are fully immersed with extra water on top to allow for fluffing.
2.Take a medium size cooking pot and cook the chana dal by placing on medium heat with 2 cups water. Cover and cook however check periodically and skim the scum that appears. (Otherwise you will have a volcanic eruption on your stove with the water bubbling out of the pot! ). The dal should cook in about 10-15 minutes. Check to see if all water is gone and test doneness by taking a lentil in your hand and touching to see if it is totally soft. If you feel any hardness, add a little more water and cook for another 5 minutes or so covered.
3.When the lentils are completely done and all water almost gone, add the shredded/powdery jaggery and mix to mix and dissolve the jaggery. Stir on low heat to get a smooth thick pasty mixture. Turn the heat off.
4. Add the cardamom powder and mix again. Use a potato masher to mash the mixture further to get really smooth consistency. (You could also use a food processor or a hand blender to make this really smooth ).
Cover this lentil mash/stuffing mixture and let cool. If not using immediately, refrigerate for up to 24 hours or freeze.
The Dough for the puran polis:
Take a large mixing bowl and add all the dough ingredients except water and just mix using your hands to mix the butter and oil with the flour. Then slowly add water 1/2 a cup at a time and continue to mix with your hands and knead until the dough comes together. (You could also use a stand mixer too).
Once the dough is formed, add the extra oil to coat all sides of the dough and knead well for another 2-3 minutes. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for about 2-3 hours at room temperature.
Making the Puran Polis:
Heat a non stick frying pan or roti tawa on high heat until hot and lower heat to medium.
1. Make small ping-pong size balls from the dough and then roll each ball into flour to coat and use a rolling pin to form a small circle (about 3 inches dia)
2. Place about 1 tbsp of the lentil filling in the middle and then bring the edges of the round shape into the middle (like a dumpling). Press to seal the middle.
3. Again dust/roll the filled ball into flour and then again roll slowly with the seam side facing up until you form about a 6 inch dia round shape. (add /dust with flour in between)
4. Place the stuffed poli onto the heated pan and let cook for about 1 minute on medium heat. Flip over and again cook for another 1-2 minutes until you see brown spots on both sides.
5. Remove from pan and spread a dab of butter.
Enjoy the puran polis warm with extra butter and / extra stuffing mixture.!