These festive rolls of flatbread filled with sweetness have traversed from the south to the coastal region of India
Festivals are the best in India, obviously for the celebrations and get-togethers, but most importantly the delicacies, prepared particularly, for the festivity. Coming from the state of Maharashtra is the all-time favourite the sweet and healthy Puran Poli. Puran stands for the sweet lentil mixture and Poli is the bread. A blend of basic ingredients from the pantry, namely flour, jaggery, chana dal, cardamom powder, and coconut, Puran Poli is the highlight of the Holi and Ganpati festival in Maharashtra. This traditional flatbread protein-filled recipe also falls under sattvic Maharashtrian cuisine. Though it is a tedious task to roll out this delight, the result is going to be sweet.
Rolling The Sweet Legacy Through States
Well, it is not just the coastal land of Maharashtra that wholeheartedly savours the healthy flavours of Puran Poli. This traditional sweet flatbread has variations across states and is also called by different names. In Gujarat it is known as vedmi, in the Konkan region, it is referred to as ubbatti or simply poli. In South India, starting from Andhra Pradesh where it is called holige, obbattu in Kannada, payasabolli or bolli in Malayalam, uppittu in Tamil, and bhakshalu, pole or polae in Telangana.
Multiple historical accounts exist tracing the origin of Puran Poli. Of the many narratives of its invention, one states that this customary food item has been around for over 2,000 years. Almost from the age of Shalivahana - a legendary Hindu emperor of ancient India, who is said to have ruled from Pratishthana. But Shalivahana is also said to be based on a Satavahana king, the Andhras in the Puranas, an ancient South Asian dynasty based in Deccan. So, if history was to be put together, the delicacy of Puran Poli has travelled from the ancient South of India to the coastal regions.
There are 12th Century Sanskrit texts by King Someshvar of Southern India with references to Puran Poli. In the 13th Century, Marathi script Dyaneshwari has mentioned Puran Poli by the name of Mande. Other Marathi scripts such as Kekawali - more than 1,000 years old - also mention this delicacy. The 14th Century Telugu encyclopaedia Manucharitra, compiled by Allasani Peddanna from Andhra Pradesh, also mentions the recipe of bakshyam.
• 1 cup boiled chana dal
• 1 cup jaggery
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp ghee
• ¼ tsp saffron
• ½ tsp cardamom powder
• ⅛ tsp nutmeg powder
• 1 cup refined flour
• ¼ tsp turmeric
• Salt and water, as required
• In a big bowl or pate add all poli ingredients - flour, turmeric powder, salt, and water as required. Make a semi-hard dough and keep it aside.
• In a pan, add chana dal, and jaggery, and stir until the jaggery melts. To that add saffron, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, and ghee. Stir till the mixture is dry and keep aside. Once cooled down, grind it properly.
• Now, take a small dough roll out and fill the chana jaggery stuff properly and seal it.
• Roll like a paratha, roast on the pan, and apply ghee. Serve hot.
There is no correct way of eating Puran Poli. While some like it hot right off the pan with lots of ghee, some prefer it with Potato Bhaji. The best part about this sweet delicacy is the fact that it is high in protein and carbohydrates, as well as a perfect dose of sweetness.