Thursday, August 14, 2008


Dear foodies,

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The festive season has started in India, atleast at my home it has! Tomorrow, Friday, my mother will be performing the Varalakshmi vratam. Its a major puja at my home and my mother puts in a lot effort every year decorating the altar and getting all the neivedyam ready. You can see the photos from the year before last in this post. The alankaram for the Goddess is done with great detail including the pattu pavadai or saree, a handmade flower piece for the hair, jewelery and the flowers. My mother and I would usually sit the previous night and get all the decoration done, will I was only a sidekick, so is my father :) I miss home the most on these occassions, they have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Every festival has its own pattern to follow and a set of customs unique to it. Its not so much about the religious aspect but more about the joy of celebrating as a family and sharing it with everyone around you. Festivals just perk up our moods and when everyone around you is that way, there is no room for conflict. I also feel that they set such deeply embedded memories in you that you will cherish for life, its tough to remember the years past otherwise :P I will post pictures from this year's puja once my father sends them over.

So since my mother is going to have a huge spread laid out for tomorrow, here is a tiny token for you and me to share. She made poli (or bobatlu or puran poli) one of my favorite sweets when she was here. I tried to take as many photos as I could while successfully irritating her in the process :D



  • 1 cup - Channa dal
  • 1 1/2 cup - Jaggery
  • 1/2 cup - grated Coconut
  • 2-3 nos - Elaichi/cardamom, powdered
  • 1/4 tsp - dry Ginger powder
  • Filling: Pressure cook the chana dal for one whistle (or in a saucepan). It should still hold its shape but yield under pressure when gently squeezed between your fingers. Drain and allow to cool for a while. Grind the dal with jaggery along with the elaichi and ginger powder(to fight all the channa dal, you don't want to be reading this later :D ) to a smooth paste.
  • If you find that the filling is too watery, heat it on low flame and cook, stirring frequently until it dries up.
  • 1 cup - Maida/All purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup - Wheat atta/flour
  • 2 Tbsp+ - Oil
  • a pinch of salt and turmeric
  • Water
  • Dough: Make a soft and pliable dough by mixing the flours, salt and turmeric with the oil and required amount of water. For a soft poli, use more oil than water to make the dough. The oil combined with the maida will result in the elastic dough which will hold more of the filling without tearing apart while rolling. Once kneaded, smear oil over the dough and cover loosely with a damp cloth to avoid drying.
  • Assembly: Oil your palms, rolling pin and rolling surface well. (use as little flour as possible for lasting softness of the poli). Take a lime sized ball of the dough, flatten it into a ~5"dia circle and form it into a cup shape by placing it on your palm, place a slightly lesser sized ball of poornam into in and seal the opening with the dough. (ref. Photo above)
  • {To form the cup shape by hand, flatten the dough between your palms, hold it with both your hands, 4 fingers of each hand covering the base of the dough and the thumb placed inside. The dough is then rhythmically passed between the fingers with the thumb forming the cup. Very hard to explain with words and I don't have any good pics :( There is one on this post, step 4).
  • Once you have the stuffed balls formed, take a wide plastic sheet, we used a ziploc bag cut open, smear it with a little oil and place a ball in the center, cover with another sheet on top and roll the dough it into a circle. Using the plastic sheet totally reduces the need for flour and makes the rolling a lot easier. (ref. Photo above)
  • Heat a tawa/cast iron pan on medium heat, place a rolled poli and let it cook completely on one side before flipping it. (use the appearance of tiny brown spots as an indication to flip) Since there is enough oil in the dough you will not need any in this step.
  • When cooked on both sides, smear them with a little ghee before taking it off the heat.
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Poli is a decadent sweet treat and can be savored hot or at room temperature. I like to eat it with sugar sprinkled on top and some warm milk poured over it. My dad likes to have it with sugar dusted on top and a drizzle of honey all over, and my brother, well he'll have it anyway you give it to him :) This is a sweet that you might indulge in very rarely, so don't skimp on the oil or the ghee when you do or all the effort you put in will not be rewarded with the same amount of satisfaction.

Kozhakattai/Modak is a sweet made specifically on Varalakshmi vratam, for other Indian sweet recipes on my blog click here. Have a lovely puja at home if you follow this custom and drop me a comment sharing your experience.

14 thoughts:

Shilpa said...

Oh my god..they are beautiful. I was thinking to make some for a long time now. May be this weekend..lets see

sunita said...

Yes, being around one's family during festivities is an entirely different experience.

The polis look great :-)

Pelicano said...

I rushed right over when I heard the news of what you made! I want one so bad (because I have yet to make them); adding ginger is a good idea! :-) Your instructions are so clear that I have no excuse do I? I also like your katoris in the first pic, and as for your mother's neivedyam- what a spread!

Indian Khana said...

Poli looking too gud are very nice. Yes festive(s) are I have started one event for the same ;)

Unknown said...

I love Bobatlu...and the pic is so tempting :)

Usha said...

I just happened upon your blog while blog hopping.You have a very nice blog with some great recipes.I love poli absolutely love it and yours look delicious.I agree there is something so nice about festivals celebrated with family :)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Priya! This looks so delicious! I am afraid my flat breads do not look so perfect as yours do!

Anonymous said...

I just love poli. Its one of my fav sweets. My friend nithu used to make lovely poli's. Love your recipe. It must have tasted sooo good. Pics are awesome.

Suganya said...

WOW!.... This is my fav. Looks so good. YUM! So perfect!

Pooh said...

Happy Rakshabandhan Priya!

Y'know, I cannot believe no one has figured out a way to introduce a scratch n' sniff feature to food blogging! Then again, I would probably feel much worse not being able to taste your perfect polis.

Anonymous said...

ur pictures are too good. ur mother must be thrilled

Priya said...

Shilpa, You have to email me a few in exchange for this recipe :D

Sunita, yaa, even friends will do in a pinch :P

Pel, see, no you know how much I miss home :P So can I apply for a pickle bottle as a payment for the recipe.

Priti, I am coming over then :D

Soumya, me too! One of the few sweets I like

Usha, Welcome here and keep coming back :) I am now off to yours

Meeta, mine are no where close either...this is all my mother's work!

Shriya, you've been lucky to have Nithu as a frnd. I haven't dared to make these yet :(

Sukanya, lemme know if you try making them :)

Pooh, how I wish they came up with that, and soon! Welcome here, hope you are having fun in Canada!

Anon, My father was the creative director for these photos :))

amna said...

i have been wanting to try this ever since i saw it on jugalbandi. u give me more reason now :)

Anonymous said...

it tempts us to eat

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