Long railway journeys.Picnics.Lunch.Festivals.Breakfast.Street Side Eating.Snacks.Dinner. Name the occasion and ‘poori‘, this deep-fried,unleavened bread has been my companion. Thin, thick, staining fingers with oil, flavored with ajwain(carrom seeds),crispy yet soft – this little puffy bread has been a steady thing in our kitchen, bringing us comfort and gluttony(sigh!).I could trade saturday pancakes for these, for they will bring the same deliciousness to the table.
Poke your finger to puncture that crispy skin on top, bloated from the heat of deep-frying and chew on it. Combine it with a spicy potato curry or jhol and you have an overdose of carbs, but, trust me you could feel bad before eating these or after, but, never ever while eating jhol-poori 🙂.It is not a that healthy,’superfood’ thing, but most good things in life bring a fraction (or more) of guilt with them! Or so I think.
Chopped or pureed vegetables like spinach and methi (fenugreek) leaves are many times added to the dough as variations. You could add a lot of or less powdered spices as per your liking. You could even mix up flours – semolina, cornmeal or all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour and fry up. The tastes and texture changes but the dough takes all for there is hardly anything deep-fried which tastes less than lavish. You get what I mean,right?
A hot cup of chai,stale pooris slathered with chutney or pickles rolled cigar like is how enjoy it the most but traditionally pooris are served with a side – usually a spicy potato based dish(though in many parts they serve with meats and fruit purees too) and essentially achaar(pickle), mango or lime in my grandma’s house.In my family, the side curry is cooked without onion and garlic and I still make it the same .However there are no rules, if my grandma was short on time, she would sometimes slice a few sweet mangoes or so with them. Basically, you get the idea – its is delicious with just about anything.
Jhol Poori is a combination which makes an appearance atleast once a month in our house if not more. In my mums house, this is typical Sunday breakfast. While I knead the dough, the pressure cooker hisses and the potatoes boil inside. My mom always always cooked aloo John in ghee and I do the same, the taste is so amazing. If not, you can use normal cooking oil to make it. A quick tempering with simple aromatics-pungent hing(asafoetoda),smoky cumin & turmeric hit the hot ghee along with tomatoes, green chillies & ginger, awkwardly crumbled potatoes join the pot, simmer for under twenty minutes or so and done. While traditionally jhol is a term used for much thinner, almost water like consistency, we like ours on the thickish gravy side, just go stingy on the amount of water that you add, everything else remains the same.
Poori (Puffed Fried Indian Flatbread)
- 1.5 cup atta (durum wheat flour)
- 2-3 tbsp oil for dough
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ajwain
- room temperature water
- Oil for deep frying
- In a wide dish or large bowl, mix flour, salt, oil and ajwain. Mix well to combine.
- Adding little water at a time, start kneading. I used a little over 1/2 cup of water. Add water slowly until there is no dry flour and then bring together and knead using your knuckles and fingers until smooth for about 8 minutes or so until the dough appears smooth and is firm to touch. The dough should not be soft.
- Cover with damp flour and rest for 20 minutes.
- Divide into equal portions.Roll each portion between palms to make balls(about the size of a lime).
- Set about 2 inches of canola oil for deep frying to heat up in a kadhai or in a dutch pot.
- Keep a a little oil nearby. Start with 1 ball at a time, dip the ball in bowl of oil, flatten it lightly on the rolling board and with the help of a rolling-pin, roll into a 3" or 4" circle, about 1/8 thick. When you are rolling, you could slather some oil if dough sticks. It takes practice to get the shape. Even if you do not get perfect rounds its okay, doesn't affect the taste. When you are rolling the dough you can lift it and move it around to get a round of uniform thickness.
- To check the temperature of the oil, pinch a small portion of dough and add it to the oil, it should quickly rise to the top without changing color. If the dough rises slowly or remains at the bottom,wait for the oil to heat up more.
- Once the oil is hot, fry rolled pooris one at a time, flipping once, lightly pressing with a slotted spoon (else it will not puff up), until puffed and golden brown, about 30 to 45 seconds. Drian fried pooris on paper towel. Serve.
Aloo Jhol/ Hing Vaale Aloo
- 4 medium boiled potatoes
- 3 tbsp ghee or cooking oil
- 3/4 tsp hing powder
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
- 3 green chili, slit
- 1.5 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder, adjust to taste
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped fine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
- 1.5 tsp garam masala
- 1.5 cup water, or as needed
- Chopped cilantro
- Peel the potatoes and using your hands light crush them into random pieces. Set aside.
- In a cooking pot, warm up the ghee on low medium.
- Once ghee is hot, add hing and then crackle the cumin seeds. Next add the ginger and green chillies together and saucer10-15 seconds.
- Next, add the powdered spices – coriander, turmeric and red chili powder to the pot. Ad 2 tbsp water so that the spices don't burn. Saute the spices in ghee for 2 minutes or so till you smell a nice aroma.
- Net add the tomatoes and sauce them for 4 minutes or so until you see ghee bubbles separating on the sides.
- Add the potatoes now, sprinkle salt, mix well and sauce themfor 2-3 minutes with tomato and spices.
- Add the water next and let come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Halfway, open the lid and mash a fe potatoes using back of the spoon, this helps in thickening the curry.
- Switch off the stove and add the amchoor and garam masala. Mix and let rest for at least 20 minutes. Reheat, garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.