Puran poli – This traditional Indian dessert goes by a few names – holige, bele obbattu, or puran poli. Chapati like but with a flaky crust and a sweet lentil filling, puran poli is a favorite throughout India and you’re about to learn why.
I’ve been addicted to puran polis since I was only 6 years old. At my uncle’s wedding, there were two ladies tasked with churning out sweets for hundreds of people. After the first experience of this flaky textured puran poli, I was hooked.
It was on that day I ate my bodyweight in puran poli.
Am I proud of it? Heck, yeah!
Every time we go to India to visit my family, we stock up on puran poli to bring home with us. I can’t describe how much my family loves this dessert – but I can say that if they had to choose between me and puran poli, they would choose the puran poli! The day we eat the last one is never a happy day, so I became motivated to learn how to make them myself.
How to make puran poli or holige?
Filling – The fillings in puran poli / holigey / ubattu can change from region to region. Maharashtrians use a channa dal filling, whereas Gujaratis use tuvar dal.
Sweetener – Jaggery or sugar can be used as sweeteners to make puran poli. Given the opportunity – always use jaggery because, when caramelized, it brings an earthy aroma to the dish that balances everything perfectly.
Outer layer – The bread, or ‘crust’, can be made with refined wheat flour / all purpose flour (maida), or whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta). Bread made with maida are so soft and delicate that they melt in your mouth. Whole wheat flour makes this desert slightly healthier but the texture of the outer layer becomes more like paranthas less flaky than the ones made from all purpose flour or maida. (See picture below)
Interestingly, puran poli is served as a dessert in southern India whereas in other parts of India it is eaten along with the main course. The truth is these aromatic, sweet Indian flatbreads are perfect at any time of the day. Just remember to serve them warm, with a generous dollop of ghee!
I’m sure that, like me, you’ll fall in love with puran poli at first bite too. Try my recipe here!
Note – The version below works great if you are planning on eating puran poli once in a while. But if your family is like mine and cannot do without eating holige at least once every two weeks, here’s what you can change in the recipe to make it healthier and faster –
- Replace the maida (all purpose flour) with whole wheat flour.
- Do not soak the dough in oil. Instead, just cover the dough and set it aside.
- Making the filling is the most time-consuming process. So I typically make twice the quantity of the filling and store it in the refrigerator for the short term or the freezer if I am not going to make puran poli within 2-3 days.
If you are looking for other easy to make desserts, here are my favorites –
- Instant Pot Date Cake – this date cake recipe adapted for the Instant Pot.
- Moist Banana bread – a healthy take on traditional banana bread made with the goodness of coconut oil.
- Apple coffee cake with brown sugar glaze – a delicious coffee cake that takes about 40 minutes.
- Easy and Healthy Chocolate Banana Cake Recipe – Make this 30-minute fuss-free cake using a blender. No stand-in mixer required.
- Zebra cake – A cake with an interesting look and delicious taste
Puran Poli / Holige
For the Stuffing
For the dough
- Mix refined flour (maida), salt, ghee and sufficient water (around 1/4 cup) to make a very soft dough. Note: The softness of the puran poli depends on the softness of the dough.
- Pour oil over the dough and let the dough soak in the oil for an hour while you make the stuffing.
- When ready to make puran polis, remove the dough from the oil and knead it till the oil sticking to it is fully absorbed. The remaining oil can be reused for cooking.
Making the stuffing - Microwave version
- Pressure cook chana dal (about 3 whistles) with 3- 1/2 cups of water. Set it aside to cool. Once it has cooled down, open the pressure cooker and use a potato masher to mash the chana dal. [Note - you need the texture of the dal to be fine to be able to roll the puran polis without them tearing]
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add the mashed dal, jaggery, saffron, cardamom powder and mix well.
- Microwave on high uncovered for 4 minutes. Remove the bowl and mix well.
- Microwave again for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl and mix well before putting it back again in the microwave.
- Repeat this process until the mixture appears dry and can be rolled into a ball. The microwave process takes around 16 minutes total. (Alternatively, this chana dal-jaggery mixture can be cooked over the gas too. Constantly stir the mixture till it appears dry enough to be rolled into balls)
- Leave it uncovered and let it cool for 20 minutes.
Making the stuffing - Instant Pot version
- Add chana dal and 3-1/2 cups of water in the steel insert of Instant Pot. Select “Pressure Cook”. Adjust the time to 30 minutes and set the pressure to high. Cover the Instant Pot lid and lock it. Make sure the vent is at sealing position.
- Do a quick release by moving the vent to the venting position. Open the Instant Pot lid to check on your chana dal. Use a potato masher to mash the chana dal. [Note - you need the texture of the dal to be fine to be able to roll the puran polis without them tearing]
- Press “Warm / Cancel” button and then select “Saute.” Use the "Adjust" button to set the selection to “low”. Add jaggery, saffron, cardamom powder and mix well.
- Continue to cook on low while stirring occasionally until the mixture appears dry and can be rolled into a ball. The cooking process takes around 30 minutes.
- Leave it uncovered and let it cool for about 30 minutes.
To make Puran Poli
- Divide dough into sixteen equal portions and roll into balls.
- Divide the stuffing into sixteen equal portions as well and roll into balls. The stuffing should be twice the size of the dough balls.
- Flatten each dough ball and stuff with one portion of the stuffing.Cover the stuffing with the dough and seal the edges properly.
- Dust the ball with flour and place it on a parchment paper with the sealed edge facing down. Use your rolling pin to roll into a flat, round shape and as thin as possible.
- Place a tawa/frying pan on gas on medium heat. Once heated, carefully peel the puran poli off the parchment paper and place it on the tawa. Cook until small bubbles form on the top. Turn it over and cook the other side.
- Serve hot with ghee.
- Sweetness of the stuffing - The quality of jaggery can vary. Do a taste test, if it is not sweet enough, add some more jaggery or you can add sugar as well.
- Stuffing size - Stuffing size should be twice the size of the dough balls.
- Make sure you use either parchment paper or plastic to roll the dough.
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