Poli is a traditional Indian dessert served during auspicious days or festivals. It resembles a roti or paratha, but with a sweet filling, called pooranam. Different versions of poli can be seen prepared across various different cuisines in India. The various fillings are coconut + sugar, cooked chana dal + jaggery, semolina + jaggery and even squash + jaggery. Of all these variations, coconut and jaggery is our favourite.
Typically poli, in Tamil Nadu, is prepared on Bhogi (day before ) and (Changing of the ). This is one of the first recipes that I learnt watching my mother do. It was very convenient for her, I should say. Because, preparing poli single-handedly, for the whole family, is an enormous task, among other things.
The best thing about poli is, it stays good for 2 days without refrigeration. During festival days, amidst the chaos, I don’t get to appreciate all the delicacies prepared. So, when the festivities are over, I like to have my poli, slightly warmed, drizzled with a drop of ghee, over a nice hot cup of coffee :).IngredientsDoughMaida or All purpose flour – 3 cups
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Oil (preferably sesame oil) – ½ cupFilling or PooranamCoconut – 1½ cups, finely grated
Grated jaggery – 2 cups
Elaichi or cardamom, powdered – 2 tsp
Aluminum foil or banana leaf or butter paper – 2 squaresMethod
Prepare dough by mixing maida, turmeric powder and salt to a chapati dough consistency. Cover the surface of the dough with a thin film of oil and allow the dough to rest for at least 2 hours. After resting, the dough will be elastic. Don’t be alarmed with ¼ cup of oil. The dough needs fat to remain moist and elastic. Also, you will use the same oil on the dough, to spread the poli.
Dissolve jaggery in ¼ cup of water and boil until it is syrupy. Add coconut and cook until everything comes together. Switch off the flame and mix in the elaichi powder. Allow this filling to cool and roll into balls of 1½ inch in diameter.
Heat a flat pan(tawa) over medium heat. Apply oil over the foil or banana leaf, and take a small ball of dough. Apply oil from the dough on your fingers and flatten the dough to a small circle. Place one ball of the filling or pooranam. Close the pooranam by pulling the dough on all sides. Cover well, and place the seam side down. Slowly, with your fingers, flatten the poli as thin as you can. The dough, now being elastic, should cover the whole poli, without tearing. This is attained through practice.
Now invert the foil or banana leaf with the poli over the hot tawa, poli side down. After 30-45 seconds, slowly peel the foil leaving the poli on the pan. Meanwhile use the other foil to prepare the next poli. The fat in the dough is enough to cook the poli. Cook until brown spots appear on both the sides. Serve warm with ghee or a pat of butter, if desired. Yields 15 medium sized polis.