Friday, November 11, 2005

Sesame-seed and jaggery poli (sweet stuffed chapatis, in other words)

I used to think that poli was a South Indian recipe, until I found out that Maharashtrians make it for Makar Sankranti (harvest festival) - which necessitated a change in my world view somewhat, because people from the four Southern Indian States consider Maharashtra and Mumbai-ites to be North Indians... whereas people from the North India consider Maharashtrians to be more South Indian than north.

It doesnt help that Marathi as a language and its script are so much closer to Hindi and its script and not in the least like Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada or Telugu. All very confusing.

But to get back to the delights of poli... I might have mentioned this before, but I like coconut in very, very few sweet dishes. Poli isnt one of them dishes. So when I came across a recipe for poli that seemed different from the norm because of the stuffing ingredients - it contained sesame seeds but very little gram/chickpea flour and not any chana dal at all (cooked chana dal stuffing is what I've had thus far) - I was pleased. I love the taste of sesame in savoury and sweet dishes, so that was another plus.

I have to say that the poli made this way didnt stay soft for long. The traditional ones I've had, with mashed cooked gram dal & jaggery filling, are meltingly soft and delicious, especially with a dollop of ghee on top. The sesame-seed poli I made were delicious too, but - have I said this before? - not soft. Still, that didnt stop me scarfing them down, so I guess it's worth putting up the recipe.

If anybody wants to know how to make them soft... they'll have to look elsewhere for the answer. And if anybody does find the answer, would they be kind enough to pass on the info to me too, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease?

Recipe for:
Sesame seed and jaggery poli (slightly adapted from Cuisine Cuisine)


For the stuffing:

1 cup jaggery, powdered
1 htbsp gram/chickpea flour
1 tsp cooking oil
1 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
1/4 tsp cardamom seeds, powdered

For the poli:

2 cups plain flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 tbsp warmed oil
1/4 tsp salt
Warm water as required for making the dough

Plain flour for dusting
Ghee for shallow-frying


1. Make a soft but not sticky dough with the poli ingredients. Let it rest covered for about 30 minutes.

2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a little pan and roast the gram flour, stirring constantly, until the raw smell is gone (about a minute). Be careful not to burn the flour. Set aside to cool.

3. Roast the poppy seeds and sesame seeds on dry heat over medium flame till they start to turn golden. Grind these in a spice of coffee mill, together with the cardamom powder, into a fine powder. Mix with the roasted gram flour and reserve.

4. Put the powdered jaggery in a bowl, sprinkle a tsp of water, and melt in the microwave for a 45 seconds. Take it out and give it a stir. If it needs to melt a bit more - ie, if there are any dry bits - put it back in the microwave for 20 seconds. Dont overcook it by microwaving it for too long.

5. Quickly mix the sesame-poppy seed powder with the jaggery, making sure it's thoroughly mixed. Set aside to cool.

To make the poli:

6. Knead the dough well, then make small balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball).

7. Roll out two balls into palm-sized circles.

8. Sprinkle some of the filling all over one dough circle (break up any lumps with your fingers), then cover it with the other circle.

9. Dust the top with flour and gently roll out the dough circle into a slightly larger circle, so that the filling is sandwiched.

10. Then roll it out some more into a thin round.

11. Heat a tava or frying pan (keep it on medium heat) and transfer the poli to it. Cook for a few seconds on one side, turn it over and smear that side with ghee. Flip it over once again and smear the other side with ghee as well. Shallow fry until the poli begins to get golden brown spots on both sides. Serve warm.

Note: The jaggery will melt in the heat and might ooze out - in that case keep an eye on it so that it doesnt burn. A little extra direct heat gives a caramelly flavour that is very nice, but burnt jaggery is quite awful to smell and taste.


Mika said...

Looks tasty, Shammi. It is very time consuming, isn't it?

May be they did not stay soft because of the whole wheat flour. I know most polis are made with just maida. Also, did you rest the dough after kneading? These are what I can think of...

Whatever I make with sesame seeds, turns out awful. I think the ones we get here is stale...

Anonymous said...

Aah.. Poor Marathis:)

Like Mika said, maida and lots of ghee/oil when mixing the dough makes them stay soft for a long time, Shammi.

Sesame filling is completely a new idea to me. I am imagining the taste......y..u...m.:)
Where did you find this recipe?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips about how to make the dough soft, Indira & Mika.

Argh, I meant to add a mention of where I saw the recipe first... shall do it rightaway!

Shammi said...

Double argh - that wasnt anonymous, that was me!

I s'pose I should have tried making it wholly with plain flour instead of adding whole-wheat. Oh well, I was only trying to make it as healthy as possible :)

Nupur said...

I actually think of Maharashtra and Gujarat as being "west india" rather than north or south! Both these cuisines eat both rice and wheat as staples.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nupur - Gujarat is most definitely West India... and Maharashtra is kind of south-west (ish) ... but yeah, it's more west than south or north, you're right. :)

bilbo said...

ummmm how abt we say the heck with the geography :)
the food is too darn good. The poli sounds really good. My mom makes a different version of it with sugar. Just your regular sugar stuffed into the paratha and rolled out and made on a flat girdle. The sugar melts into a syrup and its hot and sinful, caramelising at occasional spots. Its crispy and yummy. Man ! when was the last time I had that one . Too long to remember :(