‘Poli’ is a traditional South Indian sweet dish, which is essentially a type of flatbread that encloses some kind of stuffing. The flatbread is usually roasted on a hot griddle griddle with oil, white butter, or ghee (clarified butter). They are served warm to hot, crisp on the outside, peeling away to reveal a soft and caramelised centre. Utterly delicious!!! 🙂
The two most popular types of poli stuffing are (1) coconut and jaggery (my personal favourite!), and (2) lentil and jaggery. As you can see, jaggery is a pretty consistent presence in both these stuffing varieties. These days, people also use palm sugar, refined sugar and brown sugar to sweeten the poli. Some other types of stuffing include jackfruit, a mixture of dry fruits and coconut, dates, sweet potato etc. It is a very well-loved, and common dessert that makes regular appearances in wedding and festival spreads in the southern states of India. It is served hot on a banana leaf, always with a generous dollop of ghee over it! 😀
Read on for the recipe 🙂
For the poli dough:
- 1 cup maida (all purpose flour)
- 1/3 cup water
- Oil – 3 tbsp
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
For the Poornam (stuffing):
- Channa dal – 1 cup
- Jaggery – 1 cup
- Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
- A medium sized banana leaf / parchment paper /aluminium foil for making the poli
- Ghee – about 1/4 cup for frying the poli
Making the Poornam:
- Soak the channa dal with enough water to cover it, for an hour.
- Drain the dal. Add 1.5 cups of water and pressure cook the dal for two whistles.
- After the pressure has let up, drain the water well, and take the cooked channa dal in a mixer jar along with the jaggery and cardamom powder.
- Grind into a coarse paste (two quick pulses should do).
- Take the ground mixture in a wide bottomed pan, and fry on a medium flame for 3-4 minutes until the filling becomes a little dry.
- Set this filling aside to cool.
- After it has cooled down, make lemon sized balls of Poornam and set aside.
Making the outer covering:
- Measure out the maida in a wide bowl.
- Add salt to it.
- Add turmeric powder to it.
- Mix well by hand to distribute dry ingredients evenly throughout the flour.
- Add 1 tbsp oil to the flour now.
- Mix well to distribute the oil into the flour.
- Now add the water into the flour.
- Knead this, it will resemble sticky dough.
- Add little more water (one tablespoon at a time) if too dry, and continue kneading.
- Add remaining 2 tbsp oil and knead well until flour comes together as a smooth, loose dough ball. It needs to smoother and slightly more loose than chapati dough.
Cover and let this dough rest for two hours, or at least 30 minutes.
Filling the poli:
- Take a lemon-sized ball from the dough and flatten it on a non-greasy surface.
- Begin flattening it out into a small circle using your fingers.
- Place a lemon-sized ball of Poornam at the centre of the circle.
- Now pull the dough and pinch it at the centre, covering the Poornam from all sides.
- You need to have a fully sealed ball like this, completely encasing the filling inside.
- Now flip over the ball of dough with filling.
Start patting with your fingers again, to form this into a circle. Dip your fingers in oil and continue patting, spreading it out as thinly as possible.
Flip the parchment paper and slowly pull off the paper, leaving the poli in your hands.
Roasting the Poli on Tawa:
- Heat a tawa on medium flame, until hot.
- Transfer the poli to the tawa.
- Apply ghee on the surface of the poli, as well as around it.
- Cook on one side until golden brown.
- Now flip the poli using a spatula
- Cook the other side until golden brown. Apply more ghee on this side as well.
- Now the poli is done. Remove it from the tawa.
TIPS & TWEAKS
- Soaking the channa dal is optional. If you are pressed for time, just pressure cook it without soaking for an extra whistle or two.
- Do not skimp on the quantity of oil in the poli dough, as this makes it very soft.
- Let the poli dough rest for at least 30 minutes, it will make the polis softer.
- I used parchment paper to make the poli, but you can also use aluminium foil, or a well-oiled banana leaf if you have access to it. It is said that polis made on a banana leaf are tastier and healthier 🙂
- You can make the same poli with coconut-jaggery filling as well. Poli fillings are actually varied – you can use mixed nuts and khoya, sweet potato, jackfruit, etc. I will try to post recipes for the different varieties in the near future.