I’ll blame it on the present times. I was done with work and eyeing the ingredients in my pantry when my husband said, “Why don’t you try making Puran Polis?” It is a favorite dish of my mother in law and of course, my parents love it too. These dessert flatbreads when done right melt in your mouth, the jaggery and sugar sweetened, cardamom and saffron flavored, flattened chickpea stuffing forming a flavor medley with the covering doused with ghee. I had always thought of this as a difficult preparation, but after reading a few different recipes, created this version that was a bit time consuming, but not difficult.
1/2 cup atta (whole wheat flour used to make chapatis)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
A pinch of salt
A tbsp of cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 cup chana dal (baby chickpeas that have been split and polished)
1/2 cup jaggery or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
A couple of strands of saffron crushed
1 tbsp ghee
Ghee for smearing on the completed puran polis
1. In a bowl, or in a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine the flours, salt, and cooking oil along with enough water to form a smooth pliable dough (should feel like soft play dough). Cover the dough and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Cook the chana dal with two cups of water on the stove, or in the Instant Pot on high pressure mode for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release on its own.
2. Drain the cooked dal and transfer to a pan.
3. Over medium heat, add the jaggery and sugar to the cooked chana dal and keep stirring for about 10-15 minutes so the mixture is thickened. It will look like play dough, but rough due to the the dal. Turn off the stove, add the cardamom, saffron, and the tbsp of ghee and mix well. With a hand blender, blend this mixture so it really does become smooth like play dough. Set the mixture aside to cool down. When it is cool, proceed to make the polis.
4. Divide the dough into eight balls. Divide the cooled sweet mixture into eight balls.
3. On a well floured board, roll a dough ball into a circle about 4 inches in diameter.
4. Put a ball of the stuffing at the center of the circle of dough, bring the dough from all sides to the centre and pinch at the top.
3. Pat the dough ball with the stuffing on the floured board and roll out gently to a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Set the poli aside on parchment paper and continue with each of the other balls of dough and stuffing in a similar way.
4. Warm a griddle or pan, and cook the polis one at a time, gently flipping the poli after a minute to the other side. When light brown spots appear, the poli is done. Transfer to a plate and smear with some ghee.
Chaat is an Indian street food. It literally means to lick – meaning the dish is so good that you will be left licking your fingers. There are umpteen varieties of chaat, and an upcoming cookbook by the Food Network judge Maneet Chauhan is dedicated to this genre. In my case, it was the solitary sweet potato staring at me that led me to create this easy chaat that was gobsmacking, lip smacking good. Here’s how I made it.
1 sweet potato, peeled, cut into small cubes and washed
2 tsp cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 tsp chaat masala (available at Indian stores, but you can use curry powder in a pinch)
1/2 tsp salt
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
1/4 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp tamarind chutney (available at Indian stores, but you can add pomegranate or date molasses)
1 tbsps sev (chick pea sticks – available at Indian stores, but you can use a few potato chips crushed for crunch)
Slice of lemon (adds visual interest/additional tartness if needed)
1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and fry till the sweet potatoes are fried nicely and turn dark. Keep tossing frequently to prevent it from burning. This took about ten minutes on a medium flame for me. Turn off the stove.
2. Sprinkle the salt and chaat masala on the cooked sweet potatoes and toss.
3. Take a platter and scatter the sweet potatoes on it. Now drizzle the tamarind chutney on top. Layer the rest of the vegetables on top of the sweet potatoes. Finish with a flourish of sev on top and a lemon slice on the side.
4. Finish eating and of course do tell me if it was lip smacking good:)
I read a recipe for a Strawberry- Raspberry Cake in the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine. It is a delicious cake that is served in the Friuli region of Italy. It sounded so good, except given the time we are living in, I did not have the required ingredients at hand. So here is my version, a delicious blackberry cake inspired by the original. It is sooooooo delicious!
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp packed orange zest
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 heaped cup fresh blackberries
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Baking spray to prepare baking tins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and spray the bottom and sides liberally with baking spray.
2. Wash and dry the blackberries. Take a few of them and slice in half. Leave the rest whole.
2. Fit the paddle blade to the stand mixer and combine the sugar, butter, and salt at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add in the vanilla extract and orange zest and give it a whirl.
5. Add both the flours and beat a few times till the mixture is smooth.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and even it out.
7. Arrange the blackberries all over the top.
8. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes or till the top is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
9. Cool the cake completely. Sprinkle with a dusting of confectioners sugar. Slice into 12 pieces and serve with a cup of coffee.