• Payal Maharaj

Mum's Classic Pooris

Updated: May 21


I started this food blog to learn, share and document my mum's recipes, memories and bits of our Indian-Fijian culture for myself and future generations. Aside from that, I wanted to showcase our food which is simple, nutritious, delicious and was the basic sustenance for our sugarcane farming community. However, in light of today's crisis, it seems a bit insensitive to talk about food when so many people are struggling with food insecurity, unemployment, lack of access to proper foods and many other uncertainties. On the other hand, food, memories, culture and kinship are what holds the fabric of society together. That is what is common among us all and what connects us. After starting this blog, I am realizing more than ever how connected we are and that perhaps food can be the bridge to understanding/helping someone who appears slightly different from us. Recently, I discovered this hashtag #foodpeoplearethebestpeople. While I did not create this, when I searched for this phrase for one of my social media posts, I was delighted to discover that it already existed and that other people thought similarly. Food people really are the best people. Food is the basic common ground we all have and our love and need for food will always connect us no matter where we are in the world. I honestly believe that if you love food and feeding people, you cannot hate people. So perhaps, now more than ever, we need to talk about food, feeding each other and all the things that connect us as humans. Thus, I will keep on blogging.

Today's recipe is a relatively simple flatbread recipe. Flatbreads are such a common food item in all cultures that it seems fitting to write about it in this post. I am writing about classic pooris today. It is another one of our puffy flatbreads. So poori much like our rotis is a puffed flatbread which seems like an oxymoron. Puffed flatbread. Oxymoron, right? But that is exactly what it is. Both pooris and rotis have to be puffed during cooking and they sort of deflate afterwards so we eat them as flatbreads. They do not require yeast for puffing which I think is extremely useful in today's world where yeast is a highly sought-after commodity. No really. The regular grocery stores here are out of yeast. My parents finally found some yeast in the Indian grocery store last week (I like to bake). They were limiting purchases of it on top of that so my parents were only able to get three small packets of yeast (individual packets). Anyways, pooris and rotis form air pockets naturally during the cooking process. I don’t know the science behind this. I intend to find out! Or if someone knows, please let me know!

Pooris usually get made for special meals or special events such as weddings and there are some must-have curries that go with it such as aloo mattar, pumpkin and jackfruit. It also goes quite well with meat curries. As I mentioned in my roti post, ladies tend to bring their chowki and belna to the hosts house and all sit together and roll out hundreds of pooris for whatever special event is being hosted. Men and children also help! The men typically help with frying and the children are recruited as poori transferers. So they transfer trays of rolled out pooris to the head fryer. It is always great fun!

Poori dough is similar to roti dough. All you need for this recipe is some AP flour, boiled water and oil for frying. Once dough is done, you can portion out the dough and make "lois" or small rounded dough balls. So roll out small logs of dough and then portion out smaller pieces for dough balls. Mum likes to use a knife to cut off of pieces of dough.

Then each loi gets rolled out into small pooris. Pooris are smaller than rotis.

We like to roll out a bunch of pooris before heating up the oil because once the oil is hot, the pooris will cook quite quickly so you have to keep them coming. You can cover them with a clean towel or cloth to prevent them from drying out.

In our house, our mum is the head fryer and I (or my sister) am the poori dropper. Best job ever. So once a poori is dropped into the oil which has to be relatively hot, it will start to cook quickly and begin to puff up and brown. Once it puffs up, flip the poori over carefully and let the other side cook and brown. Do not poke the poori too much otherwise it may deflate and fill with oil. You do not want that. Sometimes pooris will not inflate completely. Just flip it when it looks browned on one side. Then cook the other side. The pooris have to get nice and brown. Video for how to fry a poori is included in the notes below. Once poori is fried, drain on paper towels.

Pooris can be eaten as is. This always happens in our house. A couple of pooris always disappear as they are cooking. However, we usually serve this alongside some special curries (see suggestions below), raita, tamarind chutney and maybe a simple salad. Such as today, we made a potato, eggplant and pea curry and raita to go with the pooris. Most delicious combo ever!

Let me know how this recipe goes in the comments section below!

Try poori with these other recipes:

-Potato, eggplant and pea curry

-Pumpkin curry

-Jackfruit curry

-Raita

-Chicken curry

-Lamb curry

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

4 cups AP flour (we used a mix of AP flour and whole wheat flour today)

2 cups water plus a little extra

Vegetable oil for frying

Method:

  1. Boil water. Must be boiling.

  2. Add water to flour. Knead with stand mixer on low setting for ten minutes.

  3. Pull out of mixer. Knead and smooth out with hands.

  4. Divide into four. Roll out into logs. Pinch off dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into smooth little dough balls.

  5. Roll out small dough balls into small circles.

  6. Heat up oil on medium high or high heat (depending on pot and oil)

  7. Add one poori. Let it puff up a bit and brown.

  8. Flip and let puffing up and browning complete.

  9. Remove from heat.

  10. Drain on paper towels.

  11. Enjoy as is or with a curry plus yogurt sauce.


Notes:

-This recipe makes a big batch of pooris and can feed four people for two days at least. Because it takes a bit of effort to make these, we typically make a bunch of them and eat some the next day as well. They can also be frozen down in small batches, defrosted and reheated on a griddle. Still delicious!

-Also, I have not included timing because, timing depends on several factors in this recipe such as how much dough you have. But I would carve out at least 1-2 hours if making a big batch of these.

-Video of poori puffing is the best ever:



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