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.
Not too long ago, I had an opportunity to spend time with family in Oman. I was bowled away by the country’s natural beauty, the rugged mountains juxtaposed against magnificent beaches and the dates served everywhere. But somehow, I missed an opportunity to taste good Omani bread and it was an Anthony Bourdain episode on this country that got me curious. One of the first breads I came across was Maldouf, a date flatbread also known as a date chapati. The combination of ground dates and ghee sounded divine, something that would appeal to my sweet toothed parents and in-law, but the egg in the dough was something I wanted to skip.
I started with a recipe from the local paper in Oman, The Oman Times and tweaked it to come up with this. The dates add just a hint of sweetness, the cardamom makes it a tad bit exotic and the ghee leads to the flaky delectable layers.
It takes a bit of time to roll out the dough, but the end result is so worth it. Have it warm as it comes off the griddle or serve it at room temperature with a spicy curry.
15 pitted dates
1 cup atta (chapati flour) – you can use white whole wheat flour instead
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp cardamom powder ½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp kosher salt.
¼ cup ghee
Ghee for shallow frying bread
Flour for rolling out bread
1. Soak the dates in one cup of boiling water for one hour and then grind to a paste with the water in a blender.
2. Once the date paste is ready, whisk the atta, white whole wheat flour, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Add the ghee and mix with your hand till it gets a bit crumbly. Add the date puree and mix the dough well till it all comes together and forms a soft pliable dough.
3. Divide the dough into 12 balls, roll in your hands till smooth, and set aside covered by a damp towel for an hour.
4. Take one ball at a time. Place on a lightly floured board and roll out into circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter. With a pastry brush, brush the circle with ghee. Fold dough from opposite sides to the center, slightly overlapping the ends. Brush some more ghee and bring the other sides to the center forming a square. Press the dough down, and spread the square into a larger one with 6 inch sides. Repeat with all dough balls.
5. Cook each bread on a medium hot griddle adding some ghee on the sides. When the bread starts puffing (about 1/2 a minute or so), flip it over and cook till both sides and have nice brown spots.