All good things start with something sweet. And, the beginning of the new year is incomplete without Puran Poli. This auspicious day is jointly celebrated by Maharashtrians as Gudhipadwa and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
The melt-in-your-mouth puran poli is usually eaten hot and stuffed with desi ghee. Pooran or stuffing is made with cooked gram dal and ground jaggery. Saffron, nutmeg, green cardamom or mace can be added to enhance the taste. Polly or roti is made with maida and fried till it puffs up.
“Even within a single state, purana polis varies greatly from region to region,” explains Chef Rupa Nabar, TTK Prestige. It can be eaten with jaggery tea, basundi, amras or curry. “In Pune, it is served with katachi, a type of amti which is a sour curry made with water left over from making chana dal puran. In Vidarbha, it is eaten with vadas, a dal-based pakora,” she shares. Purana Polis is also made with sweet potato or sugarcane.
The stuffing, the style of cooking, and the way it is prepared for the festival: these are the three main factors that distinguish Puran Polis across India.
“This Maharashtrian special has different styles. In Gujarat, it is called vedami and puran is made by mixing tur dal, sugar and cardamom powder,” says Maharaj Bhawar Singh, corporate chef at Khandani Rajdhani.
As you travel across the country, you can find more variations of Puran Polis. “In the state of Karnataka it is known as Holies and in Tamil Nadu as Poli,” explains Mukesh Sharma, executive chef at The Westin Mumbai Powai Lake. In Andhra Pradesh, it is eaten with generous amounts of ghee and is called bobbatalu.
Holi is prepared in different ways – with gram dal and sugar or jaggery. Fresh coconut can also be added to the filling during Ugadi. “Known as boli in Kerala, it is also made from gram dal but toor dal can also be used,” says Ventakesh, chef at Aloft Bengaluru Outer Ring Road. When it is usually eaten with payasam, it is called payasam boli.
Oputtu is eaten as a snack and is a common street food found in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Chef Nabar says, “There are different types of oputtu, viz. Kadambur oputtu is made with coconut and brown sugar and makes a unique dessert.
Stuffing can also include a variety of nuts such as almonds and pistachios, along with cardamom and nutmeg. “Recently, Purana Polis is being made into Western fusion with the addition of chocolate,” says Rajeev Das, executive sous chef at Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport.
Similar but different
While these morsels of goodness are mainly eaten in the western and southern parts of India, the northern parts of the country also have similar flatbreads. Chef Ritu Uday Kugaji says, “We Punjabis prepare Gud Di Roti and Gud Di Parunthi. I learned to make it from my mother who kneaded a dough made from wheat flour, a drop of jaggery syrup, lightly toasted fennel seeds and saut powder (dry ginger powder). It is cooked in an iron pot and smeared with a lot of desi ghee and eaten at Lohri.”
Rot, on the other hand, is a thick and sweet flat bread of Uttarakhand style that is usually cooked during weddings or other religious functions. The batter is made from whole wheat flour, jaggery syrup, fennel seeds, green cardamom and cold milk, and is baked until golden and crisp.
Sweet lolo satai is a Sindhi dish prepared for the festival, says Chef Kugaji, “During this festival Sindhis celebrate Thado where they eat only cold food and for this reason, they make this thick roti with wheat flour and jaggery, desi ghee and a little water. A little variation However, once prepared, it is kept soaked in desi ghee,’ she added.
Tips for making great Puran Polis:
Knead the dough with little oil so that there are no air bubbles
Add a pinch of butter while kneading the dough to make the dough soft
Puran can be prepared by mixing pulses and sugar/molasses in a pressure cooker
For Oputtu, grind the coconut finely in a high powered grinder.
Flour and wheat flour can be mixed in 1:1 ratio to make lung filling polish.
Apply a lot of oil on the surface of the dough and cover it with a wet muslin cloth for an hour to make it soft.
Use rice flour to roll the Puran Poli so that the flour does not stick to the rolling pin.
Sweet Potato Puran Polly
For the dough
Input by Nidhi Nahata, Food Therapist and Founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bengaluru