Gluten Free Puran Poli
Happy Holi to all of you!
May Holi bright up all your lives with beautiful colors!
Holi - a spring festival also known as the festival of colors is celebrated today. It marks the occasion when Lord Krishna killed the demon Holika. Celebration start a night before when a Bonfire is lit symbolizing the destruction of evil and prayers are performed. After which sweets are shared and then the fun begins. As kids, this was our most favorite festival. The day would begin with us filling out the water balloons, water guns called pichkaris and getting all our colors ready. We had to wear clothes meant to be discarded as you can never wash off the colors. For some people, its a custom to wear white. Mom would lovingly prepare Puran polis - which is a flatbread with a sweet lentil stuffing inside. This was always served with a dollop of ghee and some warm milk for dipping the flatbread. Since I lived in a cosmopolitan part of India, we had neighbors from all over the country celebrating festivals in their own way. This mix of rituals made it even more fun.
After feasting on the puran polis, we all gathered with our friends and chased each other spraying colors and water on everybody, shooting balloons on the not so favorite ones. Nobody is spared today. The faint hearted remained indoors. After we have add a chance to smother everyone with colors and water, we would settle down for some live music played and songs sung by a talented few. More snacks were gorged on- gujjias, laddus, puran polis...the list was endless.
Lastly we would all go for a dip in the ocean behind our house. Play and swim till the hunger pangs begin again. Then we would come home to shower and scrub ourselves to remove the layers of color. Finally settle down for a lunch feast prepared by mom.
Living in North America, celebrating holi is just a distant dream. The month of March is too frigid with temps in double negatives. I still try to introduce my daughter to the Indian culture by playing with dry natural colors at home. Today I attempted to make gluten free puran poli and they turned out great.
For Puran/stuffing filling:
- 1 cup chana dal
- 1 cup jaggery
- 1/2 tsp cardamom pdr
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or mix little water into yogurt to create instant buttermilk)
- 3/4 cup rice flour plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- unsalted butter or ghee, for greasing the tops of poli
To make the puran/stuffing:
- Wash the chana dal thoroughly and let it soak for about 30 min.
- Rinse the dal, add fresh water and cook the dal till the grain mashes when pressed between the fingers. Don't pressure cook the dal as it needs to retain its shape.
- Strain the liquid from the dal. You can use it for other purposes.
- Take the cooked dal and add the jaggery and let it cook till the jaggery melts.
- Add in the cardamom powder.
- Once cooled, mashed the mixture with a potato masher. Grind this mixture now to a fine consistency without adding any water to it. The puran is ready.
- Take a handful of the mixture and roll into a ball. Make similar balls.
To make the polis:
- In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
- Add buttermilk and start mixing in with your hands.
- Add warm water little by little till the mixture comes together as a dough.
- Add the oil and knead the mixture well for about 5 mins. Let the dough rest for 10-15 mins.
- Now make small lemon sized balls of the dough. You will need 2 balls for each puran poli.
- Roll out a parchment paper. Dust the surface and the rolling pin with some rice flour.
- Roll one small ball into disc of puri size. Keep aside.
- Roll another ball into a same size disc.
- Place the puran ball over one disc and flatten it slightly. Place the second disc over the puran and press to seal the edges between the two disc. Dust more flour and gently roll the disc to flatten the puran poli to desired size.
- Heat a flat pan or tawa on medium-low heat. Gently pick up the puran poli and place on tava. Let it cook for a min. Gently flip the puran poli. Grease the surface with butter or ghee. After another min, flip it over again. Butter the other side too. You will see the poli puffing up and nice brown marks on it.
- Remove off the heat and keep aside. Repeat the procedure to make more puran polis.
- Serve warm with a dollop of ghee and/or a bowl of warm milk to dunk it into.
Though winter is not so predominant in most of central and southern India, spring is still very beautiful with different flowers blossoming. Here are some spring pictures of a small town called Roha, in Maharashtra. My friend has a beautiful home there with an awesome garden. Sharing some pics of the spring bloom.