Puran Poli is a sweet stuffed flatbread traditionally from the state of Maharashtra (located on India’s South Western Coast). Puran poli is usually made on special occasions & during festival days.
The filling for puran poli is a sweet mixture of chana dal and jaggery. Chana dal is actually the inner kernel of a variety of chickpea known in India as “kala chana” or black chickpeas. They are not actually black in color, just darker than the more common familiar chickpea variety. Chana dal is produced from black chickpeas by removing the outer layer and then splitting the inner kernel. Chickpeas are a wonderful source of protein and are also very high in dietary fiber and calcium. Jaggery is a type of unrefined sugar that comes from either the sugarcane tree or the date palm tree. In India, it is known as gul or gur. It is available in block form in most Indian or Asian grocery stores. If you are unable to find jaggery, you can substitute dark brown sugar or even regular sugar.
PURAN POLI (Sweet Stuffed Flatbread)
For the Puran (Filling)
1 cup chana dal (split & skinned Bengal gram dal), soaked in enough water to cover for 3-4 hours
1 cup jaggery (gul), to taste
½ tsp ground cardamom powder
large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice
1-2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
For the Dough
1-1½ cups whole wheat flour (atta)
small pinch of salt
1 tsp ghee
To make the Puran (Filling):
Drain the chana dal and cook until soft & tender on either the stovetop or in a pressure cooker. Drain very well, the chana dal should be as dry as possible.
In a large deep skillet on medium heat, add the ghee. Then add the jaggery, stir well and let the jaggery melt. Then carefully add the chana dal along with the spices (ground cardamom powder, nutmeg & allspice). Mash the chana dal with the back of a wooden spoon and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat until thickened into a smooth paste, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. The dal mixture should be completely smooth, if not - simply run it through the food processor for a few minutes until there are no lumps. Then gently roll the puran into 10-12 equal small size balls, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside until needed.
To Make the Dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the salt and slowly add enough water as needed to make a soft pliable dough. The easiest way to do this is on a clean countertop with a little sprinkling of flour so the dough will not stick. So now transfer the dough from the bowl to your work surface. Start kneading the dough until it becomes soft & pliable. This may take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. Next place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or towel for at least 30 minutes. Keep the bowl in a warm place, do not refrigerate.
To Make the Puran Poli:
Now out of your dough, you can easily make 10-12 balls of dough (about the size of a ping pong ball). Knead the dough ball for just another minute or so before rolling it out. Make sure to keep the rest of the dough balls covered with a damp cloth or towel so they don’t dry out. Using a floured rolling pin on a well floured surface, start rolling out your dough balls into thin flat circles about 5-6” in size. Next, add one puran ball (the balls of cooled filling) to the center of your poli. Now carefully gather up the sides sealing them together and forming a ball. Gently pat into a flattened disc using your palms and gently roll out into a circle about 6-7” in diameter. If it tears, don’t worry - just pinch it together and patch it up.
*Alternatively, you could roll out 2 separate polis. Then evenly spread a little of the cooled filling on top of one poli, place the other directly on top. Now pinch the edges together to form a tight seal and roll out the edges so they are smooth & seamless.
Meanwhile, heat a tawa or flat cast iron skillet on medium high. When hot, add a little ghee and then carefully place the puran poli on the tawa. After a minute or so, turn the puran poli. You may need to add a little ghee around the edges of the puran poli. Both sides should be golden brown. Brush with a little ghee and serve hot. Puran poli is often served with a little milk for dipping, the milk can be either warm or chilled depending upon your personal preference.
Feel free to add some freshly grated coconut to the puran poli filling. Just add the coconut along with the chana dal to cook.