Wednesday, November 9, 2011

puran poli made easy | step by step recipe or puran poli ...



A sweet stuffed flat bread that gives the cinnamon roll a run for its' money. That is puran poli for you, a step by step recipe so you can make this decadent soft flat bread for yourself..

Stuffed with a delicate mixture of chickpea and jaggery and lightly spiced with cardamom , rolled out to make a flaky crust encasing a melting goodness of a uniquely sweet filling. As simple as that.

This sweet stuffing is so tasty that it defies the fact that it is made using a simple and cheap ingredient. Actually when i made it for my MIL when i was a newly wed, she guessed it to be khoya and jaggery. The texture of the chickpea cooked with jaggery or sugar becomes almost like khoya and given the fact that a certain khoya paratha was a family favorite there , this sweet puran poli fell in the same category too....

I like my puran poli stuffed with a melt in the mouth kind of filling and not a dry crumbling type which makes it tough to swallow the poli without a slug of milk. I have a similar reservation about a certain daal ki puri too which is made with a savory stuffing of chickpea. This melt in the mouth kind of filling is not that tough to make my dear friends. Actually a lot easier than the dry filling. Let's see....



ingredients...
(makes about 10-12 puran polis)
for the filling..
chana daal (split chickpea) 1 cup
jaggery powdered 3/4 cup (i used unrefined brown sugar)
green cardamom 2 nos.
water 2 cups
for the pastry..
whole wheat flour 1.5 cup approximately (depends upon how much filling you can stuff in each poli, it is a skill to stuff more filling in a small ball of dough)
pinch of salt
water to knead a dough

procedure for the filling...

Boil the split chickpea in pressure cooker along with the water indicated.
Cook for 7-8 minutes after the first whistle, lowering the flame after the first whistle.
Let the cooker cool down, open the lid and add the jaggery to the cooked daal.


Now cook the daal along with jaggery till the mixture gets a bit thick ( about 5 minutes).

 It's time to blend the mixture now. A hand held stick blender is a useful device for such things and helps in blending the mixture right inside the pot. I used the stick blender but the mixture can be transferred to the food processor to be blended smooth.


Return the mixture back to the cooker, if doing it in a food processor and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes to condense the mixture. Transfer to a bowl . The mixture still looks a little loose consistency to make a chapati filling. But the secret to a melt in the mouth kind of filling is this consistency of the filling mixture.


 It has to be kept in the fridge so it gets a little harder when cold. It will be easier to stuff inside the poli after this, but when the poli is roasted on the pan the filling will again become soft and melting kind. Look how it looks after a half an hour rest in the fridge. It is a small portion and needs lesser time in the fridge. For large quantities you will need to keep it longer refrigeration time.


As i said, stuffing the mixture inside the poli is a skill but a few pointers can work wonders if you follow them carefully. I am not uploading any pictures of the stuffing process as the instructions will be enough to understand and also because the hands get really messy and clicking pictures during stuffing is not a possibility.

Just follow the instructions and note the pointers.

procedure for the pastry...

Knead a dough exactly when required. Refrigerated dough does not behave well with a meting type filling.

The consistency of the dough should be exactly like the filling , so if the filling is soft, the dough should be as soft...or just a bit harder than that.

Use finer dusting flour to roll the poli , using maida for dusting is a good option as whole wheat flour does not stretch as much as maida.

Also, if you are making puran poli for the first time, use maida instead of whole wheat flour to make the dough as it will be easier to roll with such a tricky filling.


Pinch a small portion of the dough, make a ball and then make a depression in the middle to shape it like a bowl. Now spoon out a bigger portion of filling and place inside the dough bowl , stretch the edges and seal the bowl to make a ball again.

Use some dusting and flatten the ball with your fingers on the rolling board first before rolling it with the help of rolling pin. Some of the filling mixture may look like being exposed and it enhances the taste but take care not to let the filling leak out of the pastry. A thin even layer of pastry over a rich filling is what you have to work for.

Carefully lift the poli and flip it over the hot pan. Roast both sides till pinkish brown patches are formed and the poli is cooked through. Apply little ghee after taking the poli off the heat.

 Repeat to make more polis and keep them in a butter paper lined container. Serve hot .


See how the filling is exposed and yet held up together inside thin layer of pastry. A right consistency of the dough makes it possible and rolling it with soft even hands is also critical. The taste will anyways be great with such a flavorful filling but if the poli is rolled perfectly it will make the effort worth.

Such a dark color of the filling is due to the dark brown colored unrefined sugar i used . This king of filling makes a really nice and soft puran poli whose puran doesn't get crumbly ans scatter in the plate. It stickls to the pastry and melts in the mouth when you take a bite.

Use of whole wheat for the pastry and a dark brown colored filling makes a rustic looking puran poli. We have always liked it this way, the way we were introduced to this dish in younger times. Puran poli had come to our house through a marathi friend of my younger sister and this is the way they used to make it. We adopted it and it stayed with us the same way.


 Leftovers polis reheated in the microwave are great for breakfast with a glass of milk or as a meal with a bowl of fresh yogurt Although it goes well with some sweet and sour kind of pumpkin curry too, we always try and have it in more than one ways whenever i make it....

The puran (filling) keeps well in the fridge and a freshly made dough is all needed to make fresh polis anytime.

Have you tried any flat bread with a sweet filling?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

daal bati chokha anyone ???


This kind of meal comes under the most favorite types in my household. A hearty meal with all the rustic flavors to appease the hunger, the taste buds and olfactory nerves all at once. Not to mention the fun cooking process.

For many people it has been an extensive work and a dreaded kind of meal because of long cooking time it is supposed to involve. Let me make it simple for you. I have been cooking baati and litti using my microwave and gas stove and it gets ready within minutes. Actually it is more convenient than making chapatis as it doesn't involve rolling and baking on the griddle. Daal and chokha are cooked conveniently too. Chopping some more garlic than usual would be well worth if you are anticipating daal baati chokha for dinner or for a weekend lunch.

Recently, during my Banaras visit i prepared daal baati chokha twice for extended family and friends and it was a baati masterclass for a few people out there ... I have taught many people to make litti and baati this way and it has become the only way to make it in many families around me since then. Very few of my real family and friends know about a litti post i did long time back on this blog, they get live demonstrations so they don't value written words on these pages...i don't mind that though :)


We wanted another round of daal baati chokha after coming home too, this is an addictive kind of meal believe me. The more you have it, the more you want.

The pictures are not very god because it was made for dinner and artificial light does make it look dull and lifeless, so do not go by the looks here as the taste is legendary. Time tested, tradition evolved and loved by all. For me, if a particular kind of dish is made in many regions of the country,  it is a testimony to it's being really good. This recipe is different from Rajasthani baati and more close to Bihari litti chokha , daal baati chokha of UP has a different identity of it's own. I have loved daal bafla of MP too, but that is also quite different from this.

Talking about the difficulty level of this recipe, you just need to concentrate over the daal and chokha and both of them are regular kind of recipes.

Daal is a mix of many lentils cooked conveniently in pressure cooker and tempered with chopped garlic, onion and tomatoes. Simple.

Chokha involves fire roasting the eggplants and tomatoes over gas flame but that can be done in an oven conveniently too. I somehow find it more convenient on gas stove as it is quicker and fun. Just some peeling the burnt skin and mashing with some chopped onion and the chokha is done. Simple.

The whole process of cooking the 3 of these for 2 people takes about 30 minutes. Including roasting , chopping , kneading the dough and assembling everything together.

ingredients and procedure for the baati.... 


Whole wheat flour without any shortening is what i normally use but you can go for a 1 tsp ghee shortening per cup of flour. Knead the flour using water and a little salt making a medium stiff dough. Make balls and flatten the balls to make about 1 cm thick batis , these ones are 5-6 cm diameter , you can make smaller or a bit bigger.

Now grease a MW safe plate with ghee and arrange 6-7 baatis in it and microwave on high for 5 minutes. I made 4 baatis and cooked for 3 minutes.

Place a wire rack on the gas stove and cook the baatis directly over the gas stove immediately after taking them out from the MW. This step has been posted with pictures here.

This flame roasting is to ensure those burnt spots on the surface and it gets a nice crust after this , while the insides are soft and crumbly. You can stuff 1/2 tsp ghee in each of the baati to make it softer and more flavorful too.

Smear ghee, keep them in a covered bowl and serve hot.

Cooking the baati should be the last step in assembling this meal but i wrote it first so you would know how easy and quick it becomes with this technique. Otherwise, making baati is the most tedious job, once this process is made easy you can now think of doing it happily. All the steps of making baati can be handled while cooking the daal and chokha simultaneously.

ingredients and procedure to make the daal...
(2 servings)
toor daal (arhar daal) 1 tbsp
mung daal 1 tbsp
masoor daal(red lentil) 1 tbsp
urad daal (skinned and split black lentil) 1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
 for tempering...
ghee 1 tbsp
asafoetida powder a pinch
cumin seeds 1 tsp
minced (not paste) garlic 1 tsp
diced onion 2 tbsp
diced tomatoes 1/2 cup
red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
chopped green coriander to garnish
minced ginger 2 tsp

Wash, drain and cook the daals in pressure cooker with salt, turmeric and 4 times water by volume. Cooking time should be 5 minutes after the first whistle.

Heat ghee and add the asafoetida and cumin and wait till the cumin splutters. Tip in the minced garlic and let it brown lightly.

Now add the onion and fry till translucent. Add the tomatoes and a lil salt and cook till the tomatoes are pulped. Add red chilly powder and let it cook for a dew seconds and pour all of this to the cooked daal, let it simmer for a minute, add the minced ginger and chopped coriander, mix well and serve.



ingredients and procedure for the chokha...
(2-3 servings)
one eggplant round variety (approx 200 gm)
2 tomatoes
one medium sized potato
finely diced onion3-4 tbsp
minced garlic 1-2 tsp
minced ginger 2 tsp
minced green chillies to taste
salt to taste mustard oil 1-2 tsp
chopped green coriander as per taste

Roast the eggplant and tomatoes over gas flame or in the oven till cooked.
Keep covered for 10 minutes so the skin can be removed conveniently.
Remove skin and mash both eggplant and tomatoes with cooked potato and mix with all the other ingredients.
Serve hot or warm or cold .



If you want to do it within 30 minutes you should start with placing the eggplant and tomatoes on flame the very first thing. It needs to be turned and rotated every few minutes but you can do the daal preparations side by side. Kneading the dough for 2 servings and assembling the baati is a 10 minute job which requires your hands' involvement constantly.


I hope you found a simple way to enjoy a daal baati chokha whenever you want. A few friends have been asking for a recipe and although it is there on this blog since ages, i wanted to put a fresh post about the beauty of this meal.

Enjoy...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the famous lassi of banaras.....pehelwan ki lassi...




Banarasi lassi is very different from Punjabi lassi. While Punjabi lassi is a frothy drink with a blob of fresh white butter floating on top, banarasi lassi is more like a dessert drink.

I remember having a frothy fresh punjabi lassi served in huge metal glasses when i was a kid . That lassi used to be lightly sweetened and a little thinner too. I liked the kachhi lassi (which is actually fresh buttermilk) more as i like all things savory. In punjab villages lassi, seet or savory is always served with some fresh white butter floating on top.

Lassi of banaras is poles apart from that refreshing drink of punjab. It is more a filling meal in itself, a dessert meal in fact. Thick and sweetened with a topping of malai on top and a generous blob of rabdi over it. How much more sinful it could get? The mithai loving people of Banaras have reinterpreted the lassi for sure.

The curd for this lassi is made with reduced milk so the lassi gets a nice creamy texture . The curd is set in to wide vessels called parat as seen in the picture here so it gets a larger layer of malai on top.


Look how the shop owner is pouring lassi straight from the matka in which he jut churned the lassi using a wooden mathani (an Indian whisk) . I remeber in olden days these parats were not used to set the curds and there used to be nice earthen vessels of the same shape and size. I am not sure if the milk is boiled in the same vessels as when the milk cools down  all the fat floats on top and makes a nice and thick layer of malai . The same malai is scooped off to top the lassi when served in earthen kulhads.

Yes, these kulhads make this lassi even more special.I am so glad these kulhads and dried leaf plates and bowls are still used in some of our cities. Look at the dried leaf bowls they use to serve those syrup dripping lavag-lata . Lavang-lata is a very sweet fried pastry stuffed with clove flavored khoya( reduced milk) and dipped in a very thick sugar syrup. A bengali version of this sweet is lavang-latika which is smaller in size and delicate in folding pattern, the bengali version includes some coconut too in the stuffing. This particular place is famous for it's lavang-lata too and you can see there stock is almost over by afternoon.


And now is the time to introduce you to the special place where you can get this treat. This is pehelwan ki lassi situated at Lanka crossing. This area is close to the Banaras Hindu University and if you are coming from the university side you can spot this shop on the right side of the crossing, flanked by a hardware shop.


The lassi here is one of the best in Banaras , a few places in chowk and Ramnagar make great lassi too but it's very easy to get duped for a glass of lassi in banaras. Banaras is known for it's thugs too you must remember so you need to spot the right place to try the famous and talked about specialties of the city. Many of my friends in the past have had lassi from nondescript places and have got upset stomachs as many of the shops use synthetic milk and yogurt so beware. When something is famous from a place, there are more chances of imitations or cheaper versions available to dupe the tourists. Same goes for Banaras silk but i am not talking about that right now.

This lassi would surely make you want to come back to this shop several times during your visit i am sure. There are other nice places for good lassi too and i would share those places whenever i get an opportunity.


Oh the lassi...did i describe the taste for you?

It is actually better than any ice cream of the world. That granular looking rabdi is unsweetened to balance the intensely sweet lassi below and that piece of malai should be devoured slowly. One because it is so laden with fat that it fills your palate and two because it is so yummy you would want it to last till the lassi lasts in your kulhad....so have a spoonful of rabdi and take a sip of the lassi then take a spoonful of malai and take a sip of the lassi...and do not laugh at the way i am describing it as i have learnt it the hard way how to eat and drink this lassi at the same time....when you try to drink it straight away those edibles block your sip and you get confused what to do.... those small wooden spatulas are there for a purpose.

Some foods are served attractively but feel a little weird on how to eat or drink them....watch the way how the locals do it or invent your own way .....

Go to Banaras or recreate it ...lassi is a natural healthy drink , often a meal in a drink for me. Try the bada kulhad (a large portion) here and see what i mean. This one was a chhota kulhad ( smaller one) which cost us 15 Re each....can you believe it?

Enjoy...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

pizzeria of banaras....one of the best pizzas of the world..



And I am not the only one to say that. Yummiest of pizzas , pastas and unforgettable apple pie served in the most unpretentious way. Head towards pizzeria vatika (what a nice fusion name, meaning garden of pizza :)) at Asi ghat amidst greenery and chirpy birds. You are blessed if you choose the time of sunset.

If you are fascinated by the idea of an open air eatery overlooking a beautiful river this is for you. A peaceful place to sit and relax under lush green trees of Neem and Amda , dry leaves fallen on the floor and a few flies for company. Lots of house sparrows and parrots would make an evening musical for you.

Supernatural surroundings , great ambiance , touching the soul of a city known for it's wanderer spirit. Yes I was in Banaras for almost three hectic weeks. I am glad I could squeeze some time to visit some of my favorite places around town.

This is pizzeria of Banaras offering authentic pizzas and pasta dishes . Some freshly baked cookies , challahs, cinnamon rolls, apple pies and brownies are enticingly delicious and the secret is, fresh ingredients and a wood fired oven. Can it get any better?


Displayed in a very basic looking glass window these goodies might look very ordinary but they are fresh and delicious and quite cheap when compared to big city bakeries. This pizza oven was set up by a group of enthusiastic Italian students of music who used to sit on the ghats of ganges ( assi ghat to be precise) for their musical jams.The restaurant was run by a Gopal Krishna Shukla, serving mostly to the students as assi ghat is frequented by university students all the time. So these Italian students requested this restaurant owner to let them set up a wood fired oven for a weekend and bake some pizzas for a friend's birthday party . The pizza fever caught on since then.

The owner learnt it from them and started baking pizzas on his own too and soon the pizza substituted samosas and kachoris at Asi ghat .... much before the pizza hut and dominos reached this sleepy ancient city.






This wood fired oven looks as basic as a dhaba oven , flanked by platforms on both sides and a huge pizza spatula , the inner compartment of the oven looks like a small room.


Having chosen our table, I found a bunch of these fruits dangling on the branches as I looked up to find some birds.These fruits are used to make chutneys and pickles, called amda in Hindi and probably Carribean plums in English.


While we were entertaining our niece of 2 years by making boats and rockets with pink tissue papers the pizzas arrived. We had ordered a Margarita, a Mushroom and an Onion and mushroom pizza for 4 people . These 9" thin crust pizzas were enough for 4 adults with a kid nibbling small bits too .


Well balance flavors of the toppings and a right blend of herbs . I needed a sprinkling of red chilly flakes over it but for all the others it was great as it is.

No overwhelming amount of cheese dripping and making my hands messy and tongue scalded was my point of a big plus. You can always order for extra cheese or toppings if you like it that way but for a thin crusty base with smokiness of a wood fired oven, you wouldn't like to spoil it with overwhelming cheesy flavors.

But if no amount of cheese is too much for you, go ahead and order for an extra cheese pizza. I wanted to try the aubergine pizza there but as no one else was interested in aubergine, and no way i could have finished one whole pizza by myself, so went by other's choices.


This onion and mushroom was a favorite of majority while i loved the margarita most . Unspoiled taste of a great pizza . I am actually drooling talking about it now and i know i will end up making one tomorrow or day after. Pizza dinners are very common during winters at my place (if it's not a huge bowl of soup with a home baked bread) as the oven is comforting in my tiny kitchen and the bread aroma comforts more than anything else in the world.Winters are loved for more than one reasons :)

We wanted to have a slice of apple pie too, which is also the much talked about thing there but we didn't have any scope for solids so we just had huge mugs of espresso watching the flowing Ganges beyond those palm fronds...

It's a nice place to sit if you are not bothered by a few flies here and there.
It's anyways hard to find an open air space around the lanes of any Indian city without the omnipresent houseflies , wherever there is food being served or handled i mean.

If you think beyond that, this is the place for a quite evening with friends or alone.
Many foreigners sitting alone with a book or a kulhad of chai around this place is a testimony to what i say. There are several nice book shops around this place too...a place with a good promise.
Absolutely.