The South Indian version of Puran Poli is known just as Poli and is served as part of the traditional feast on Bhogi and Avani Avittam or Upakarma day. It is very similar to its North Indian counter-part except for the inclusion of coconut, to give it a South Indian twist.
The preparation is very similar to making parathas, except instead of rolling it out using a pin, it is spread out using hands. The recipe is pretty simple but the technique can get a little tricky and practice makes it perfect, well, almost! The first step is to make the dough and let it rest for couple of hours. Resting makes the dough really elastic and very pliable, which makes it easy to spread out with finger-tips.
In a mixing bowl, mix 3 cups of All-purpose flour with a tsp of turmeric powder, a pinch of salt, about 1/2 cup of oil and water so that it has the consistency of a chappathi dough. Leave a thin coat of oil on top of the dough and cover the bowl with a plate as the dough sits for the next couple of hours. Once the dough is out of your way, it is time to prepare the stuffing known as pooranam.
Cook a cup of pre-soaked channa dhal till fork-tender, drain excess water and mash the dhal. In a sauce pan, mix 1.5 cups of jaggery pieces with as little water as needed and boil to a syrupy consistency. Add the mashed dhal, about a cup of grated fresh coconut and cook it till the mixture solidifies and comes together. Add a tsp of cardamom powder and nutmeg powder to the pooranam and let it cool.
Preferably on a wax-paper (or on a foil), spread a small ball of dough into a circle using well-oiled finger tips. Place a ball of pooranam, close it on all sides to form a ball again. Start spreading using fingertips again, and exert pressure from the palm as and when needed, to spread the dough evenly and consistently, as thinly as you can.
Invert this onto a heated griddle (or tava) and cook the poli well on both sides by adding a drop of oil. Poli is best eaten piping hot, with a serving of ghee on top.
Poli is not an everyday food, and on the rare occasion that you make it, please do not skimp on fat. Also, if the pooranam peeks out of the dough slightly, that is fine and it adds a nice crunch to the poli.
Also check out Poli at Suganya’s Tasty Palettes.