Puri, or poori, are a fried bread made with unleavened dough. When served they should be quite light, puffy and about the size of a mango.
As with so many of the recipes in this book there are many regional variations.
This recipe is typical of Gujarati cuisine, and uses whole wheat flour, or atta. In Bengali cuisine they are made with all-purpose flour, or maida. Bengali puri are called luchi. On the south-western coast, particularly around Goa, they use rice flour, which makes that version good for gluten-free people. I will post that recipe in due course.
Some other variants include spiced and stuffed puri. A puri stuffed with spiced mashed potato, masala puri, is a well-known and well-loved street vendor dish.
In the Punjabi, Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine they have sweet puri. You would add a teaspoon or two of jaggery to the dough recipe below, and lightly dust the puri with jaggery when you take it from the oil. Typically, these are made smaller, about cricket ball size, and go with shrikand, a sweetened yoghurt dessert.
The key technique when cooking puri is have the oil at the right temperature. If is too hot it will excessively colour the puri, or burn it. A good puri is a golden brown. If the oil is not hot enough it will take too long to cook and the puri will absorb too much oil.
Keep aside a few small pieces of the dough, and test the oil by dropping a piece in. If it sizzles and rises to the top without immediately discolouring, then the oil is at the right temperature.
Remember that this is a fried bread, not a deep-fried bread. You need enough oil to allow consistent cooking, but no so much oil that you completely cover the puri as it puffs.
The usual accompaniment for puri is a dry potato curry. In our house the usual accompaniment is chole, or spiced chickpeas.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
- 2 tsp ghee melted
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ cup water warmed
- ¼ cup vegetable oil for rolling
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
Sieve the flour with salt and add the ghee. Rub the ghee into the flour. Add a little water at a time and knead well to form a dough. The dough should not be soft but a little stiff and tight. Cover the dough and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into eight portions, and brush with oil. Roll out into small circles.
Heat the oil in a deep frying-pan or kadai. Test the oil by dropping a piece of the dough into it. If it sizzles and rises to the top without immediately discolouring, then the oil is at the right temperature.
When the oil is at the right temperature add one puri at a time and fry, gently pressing down the edges with a slotted spoon. When the puri puffs, turn over to cook the top side. When the puri is evenly golden and puffy it is done.
Remove from pan, and place on absorbent paper to remove excess oil.
- While rolling out the puri, apply a little oil. By doing this you won't need to dust them with besan This dusting will come off during cooking and burn, affecting all the subsequent puri.
- You could add ½ teaspoon of carom seeds (ajwain) to the dough. This is an aid to digestion and gives a slightly exotic flavour. Adding ajwain is common in Indian bread-making.
- The cooking time above allows for cooking the eight puri. They only take a minute or so each.