On Gudi Padwa, warm puran polis are a balm for the soul
All good things begin with something sweet
All good things begin with something sweet. And, ushering in the New Year is incomplete without the quintessential puran poli. This auspicious day is jointly celebrated as Gudi padwa by the Maharashtrians and as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka.
The melt-in-the-mouth puran poli is typically eaten warm and loaded with desi ghee. The puran or stuffing is made with cooked chana dal and grated jaggery. To amp up the flavour, saffron, nutmeg, green cardamom or mace can be added. The poli or roti is made with maida and roasted till it fluffs up.
“Even within the same state, puran polis varies greatly from region to region,” explains Chef Roopa Nabar, TTK Prestige. It can be eaten along with gud ki chai, basundi, aamras or kadhi. “In Pune, it is served with katachi, a type of amti which is a sour curry made with the water leftover from making the channa dal puran. In Vidarbha, it is eaten with wadas, a lentil-based pakora,” she shares. Puran polis are also made with sweet potato or shakarkand as well.
The stuffing, style of the cooking, and the festival it is prepared for: these are the three main factors that differentiate puran polis across India.
“This Maharashtrian special has various styles. In Gujarat, it is called vedmi and the puran is made by blending tur dal, sugar and elaichi powder,” says Maharaj Bhawar Singh, corporate chef, Khandani Rajdhani
As you travel across the country, more adaptations of the puran polis can be found. “In the state of Karnataka is it known as holige and poli in Tamil Nadu,” shares Mukesh Sharma, executive chef, The Westin Mumbai Powai Lake. In Andhra Pradesh, it is eaten with generous amounts of ghee and called Bobbatlu.
Holige is prepared in different ways – with chana dal and sugar or jaggery. Fresh coconut can also be added to the stuffing during Ugadi. Chef Ventakesh, sous chef, Aloft Bengaluru Outer Ring Road, says, “Known as boli in Kerala, it is also made with chana dal but toor dal can also be used too.” When it is usually eaten with payasam, it is called payasam boli.
Opputtu 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 a variety of opputtus, eg. kadambur opputtu is made with coconut and brown sugar and makes for a unique dessert.”
The stuffings can also include a variety of nuts such as almonds and pistachios along with cardamon, and nutmeg, too. Rajiv Das, executive sous chef, Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport, says, “In recent times, puran polis are being made with western fusion by adding chocolate.”
Similar but different
While these morsels of goodness are primarily eaten in the western and southern parts of India, the northern parts of the country have similar flatbreads too. Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji shares, “We Punjabis prepare Gud Di Roti pr Gud Di Parunthi. I learnt to make it from my mother, who would knead the dough made from whole wheat flour, strained Jaggery syrup, lightly toasted fennel seeds and sounth powder (Dry ginger powder). It is cooked on an iron griddle and smeared with loads of Desi Ghee and eaten during Lohri.”
On the other hand, roat is an Uttarakhand style thick and sweet flatbread usually prepared during marriages or other religious functions. The dough is made from whole wheat flour, jaggery syrup, fennel seeds, green cardamom and cold milk, and cooked till golden and crisp.
Mitho lolo is a Sindhi dish prepared for the Satai festival, explains chef Kugaji, “During this festival, Sindhis observe thado where they only eat cold foods and for this reason, they made this thick flatbread with is made from whole wheat flour and Jaggery, desi ghee and a tiny bit of water. While there may be a few difference, once prepared it is kept soaked in desi ghee,” she adds.
Tips to make sumptuous puran polis:
Knead the dough with a little oil so that there are no air bubbles
Add a pinch of butter as you knead the dough to make the dough soft
The puran can be prepared in a pressure cooker to combine the dals and sugar/jaggery
For the opputtu, dry grind the coconut into a fine powder in a high powered grinder.
Combining maida and whole wheat flour in 1:1 proportion can be done to make fluffy puran polis
Applying a lot of oil on the surface of the dough and covering it with a wet muslin cloth for an hour to make it softer.
For rolling the puran poli, use rice flour so that the dough doesn’t get stuck to the rolling pin
Sweet potato puran poli
For the Dough
Inputs by Nidhi Nahata, food therapist and founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bengaluru