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All-time favourite

THE puri is a deep fried whole wheat bread that puffs up in hot oil like a balloon.

All over the country, it is made from the same ingredients — grains, salt and water, but the stuffing of a pulse, herbs or a vegetable gives it a regional flavour and individuality.

Depending on the type of puri being made, the flour is mixed with a small amount of oil or ghee and warm water to make a dough that is then kneaded. The dough is divided into balls and each is rolled out, which are then deep fried.

Puri bhaaji is a popular takeaway combination for train journeys. Some puris are stuffed with vegetables and spices. Well known ones are the masala puri stuffed with potato and spices, palak puri made with spinach, kadak puri made with atta, gram flour and seasonings and the snack, bhel puri.

Luchi is a deep-fried bread made in Bengal the only difference being that this is prepared with the finest plain white flour while the puri is made with coarser flour which has more bran.

Palak puri (Makes 25)

Ingredients:

Wheat flour 250 gm
Fresh spinach (palak) 50 gm
Ghee 2 tbsps
Ginger paste 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

Method:

Pluck, clean and wash the spinach leaves. Discard the stalks. Boil in water until tender. Place over a colander and drain well. Sift together the flour, chilli, coriander powder and salt. Rub in the ghee gently with fingertips. Mix in the boiled and mashed spinach, ginger paste and cumin seeds. Pour in a little water and make a stiff dough. Knead the dough gently for a few minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 10 minutes. Knead the dough, divide into equal parts, shape each into a ball and roll into a round of even thickness. Heat the oil in a kadai and deep fry the puris one at a time and serve hot.

* * *

Batata puri (Makes 25)

Ingredients:

Maida (plain flour) 4 cups
Small boiled potatoes 2
Chopped coriander leaves 1tbsp
Crushed green chillies 1 tbsp
Cumin powder 1/2 tbsp
Milk 3/4 cup
Ghee 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

Method:

Peel and mash the potatoes to a smooth paste. Add the maida, coriander, green chillies, cumin, salt and ghee and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and knead the dough well. Set aside for 45 minutes. Roll into small puris and deep fry in hot oil. Serve hot.

* * *

Hare bhare puris (Makes 25)

Ingredients:

Dough
Maida (plain flour) 400 gm
Fresh yoghurt 2 tbsps
Baking powder 1 tsp
Ghee 1 tbsp
Fresh coriander paste 4 tbsps
Salt to taste
Stuffing
Boiled green peas 200 gm
Chillies, finely chopped 3-4
Cumin seeds, crushed coarsely 1 tsp
Garam masala powder 1/4 tsp
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Maida 1 tsp
Butter 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

Method :

Sieve the flour and baking powder together. Add the yoghurt, ghee, salt and some warm water to make a soft dough. Knead gently for a few minutes. Cover with a damp muslin cloth and keep aside for an hour. Knead the dough again for a minute and then divide into 25 equal balls. To prepare the stuffing, mash the boiled peas. Melt the butter in a kadai. Add the crushed cumin seeds. Fry for a minute, add the green chillies, mashed peas, garam masala, lemon juice and salt. Fry for a minute over medium heat. Add the flour and fry over a high flame for a few minutes until the stuffing becomes dry. Roll each ball of dough into a small round. Place a small spoon of the stuffing in the centre. Gently lift the edges and close it. Dust a little maida on it and roll out again into thin rounds. Deep fry in hot oil and serve hot.

* * *

Masala puri (Makes 20-25)

Ingredients:

Dough
Whole wheat flour 250 gm
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
A pinch of asafoetida (optional)
Cumin seeds, crushed
coarsely 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds, crushed coarsely
1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Ghee 2 tbsp
Oil to deep fry

Method:

Place the flour, turmeric, cumin, coriander, asafoetida and salt in a bowl. Rub in the ghee gently till the flour resembles breadcrumbs.

Pour in a little water and make a stiff dough. Divide into small balls and roll out. Make small incisions with a needle. Deep-fry in hot oil to a crisp and golden colour. Drain excess oil. These can even be stored in an airtight container and served later as a teatime snack.

* * *

Dahi puri (Makes 15)

Ingredients:

Dough
Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Maida 1 cup
Whole peppercorns,
coarsely crushed 1 tsp
Cumin seeds, coarsely crushed 1 tsp
Ghee 1 tbsp
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
Fresh yoghurt (dahi) to make
the dough
Oil to deep fry

Method:

Blend the flours, crushed spices and turmeric powder. Rub in the ghee gently till the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the yoghurt and add just enough to form a stiff dough. Divide into small balls and roll out.

Deep fry in hot oil to a golden colour, drain the excess oil and serve hot.

SHAILAJA VARADAN

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