Friday, August 22, 2008

Puri Aloo: Indian fried bread with spicy potato curry


Puri Aloo. Just the name of it makes my mouth water. The memories of the lovely street food of Uttar Pradesh and many other places where we accompanied our parents on pilgrimages. The steaming hot puffed balls of puri and daal-katchauris, fried at many places in ghee, and the flavours of spicey mathwan aloo ki sabzi. Served with hot mixed- or mango pickes and Indian style onion, tomato and cucumber salad. What else can you ask for! It was total bliss for me and my sisters as children. We enjoyed these meals to the full. My mom made them at home too, though on occasions like some festivals which we always looked forward to, not only becaue of the food , but the food was always the big attraction!

It is summer time here and I had been wanting to fullfill my craving for fried Indian food, be it pakoras or puris before the summers are over. I have made pakoras already this summer and now it was time to make puris as well. As in the winters you can't open the windows like you can now and none of us at home like the fried and oily smell in the house, which is not healthy either. I had bought a bottle of sunflower oil just for this purpose and kept it aside, so that I can be spontaneous enough for frying. But, somehow my craving for it wasn't as big.
Not until I saw these beautiful puris on Jai and Bees Jugalbandi and the lovely combination with aloo bhaji , or mathwan aloo as I know them from my home. And the use of nigella seeds in the puri and the idea of kneading the urad daal into the dough was as great. Now, why spend hours filling the katchauri when it is that easy to make them so delicious. I knew, I had to make them that very day. I guess, had it not been for Zlamushka's monthy event, I would have probably never noticed this recipe.
Their recipe called for soaking the urad daal for some time, but I had no time for that, as it was already afternoon. But then, I remembered that my sister had told me about her making urd daal katchauris by grinding the skinned urd daal in her coffee mill which had turned out great. So, I had my solution to the problem.

So, here it goes, my version of the lovely recipe from Jugalbandi which I modified slightly as it was required and partly on a whim...

Ingredients:

Urd daal Puri:

1/2 cup skinned black gram, ground into a fine powder with a coffee mill /dry grinder
2 cups whole wheat flour or whole wheat atta ( I used whole wheat flour and whole grain missa atta* in the ratio 2/3 and 1/3)
1/5 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
1 tsp ajwain (as a replacement for nigella seeds, which I don't have right now and couldn't find them locally here)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 pinch red chilli powder
water

* whole grain Missa Atta: whole channa (with skin) and whole barley in rougly 2:1 proportions, My father got it grounded from the local mill right in front of him, got them double packed in small packets and gave them to me before we left India.

Method:
  • mix all the ingredients for puri thoroughly
  • add water slowly and knead into a stiff dough and keep aside for 20 to 30 minutes
  • heat about 600 ml of oil in a wok or deep frying pan for frying the puris on high heat, reduce to about medium-high later, if required
  • In the meantime make small round balls out of the dough
  • flatten them with your fingertips using some oil and roll out round, uniform and thin puris with a rolling pin and using drops of oil when required on a clean and smooth surface
  • deep fry in hot oil and take out with a skimmer and let drip on two layers of kitchen roll before serving
  • Eat when still warm
  • If made in advance, store in an airtight container and warm slightly before eating on a pan or in the microwave for a few seconds

How to get the puris right :
  • If the oil is not hot enough, the puris will not puff up.
  • To promote a uniform puffing of puris, keep the skimmer on top of the puri in oil as soon as it comes up on the surface, especially when using a ceramic or electric cooktop.
  • turn it around as soon as it puffs up and take out after a few seconds
  • if the oil is too hot the puris will become brown too fast
  • here a video on making puris at about.com
Mathwan Aloo (Aloo Bhaji):

4-5 large potatoes, washed, scrubbed clean and boiled (I used a floury potato variety)
2 tbsp oil or ghee (I used both)
1 tsp ajwain (mustard seeds were then on my list of things to buy from the Indian shop)
1 large pinch crushed asafoetida
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, ground
2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1 inch (2 cm) piece ginger, scraped and grated
1/2 cup natural yoghurt (I used soya yoghurt)
1 pinch red chilli powder
1 tsp salt

Method:
  • boil and peel the potatoes when still hot. Wash them once quickly in cold water before peeling them
  • heat oil+ or ghee in a deep saucepan, add ajwain, it should immediately start spluttering (check if the oil is hot enough by first adding one seed into the oil), add asafoetida, ground fenugreek seeds, ground coriander seeds and grated ginger, stir to still they start smelling good (be quick and careful not to burn them!)
  • add potatoes and crush them lightly with the wooden spoon or spatula and stir to coat them with the spices
  • add the yoghurt and stir further
  • add fenugreek, chilli powder, salt and water, and cook on low heat till the potatoes take the flavour of the spices
  • serve with hot puris and as per choice with sides like achaar and chutneys
This was a lovely combination. The flavour of kasuri methi in the aloo gave it a very good "pepp", as we call it here - "liveliness" is one good translation. It was a good decision and the gentle flavour of methi seeds also added to the flavour. Now, this is something I have learned from my mom, who regularly used ground meethi seeds in daals.
Now, if I have a favorite Indian leafy vegetable then it is Fenugreek, methi as it is called in Hindi. And my liking for it has grown with time as it is imossible to get it here in any form except as Kasuri Methi (a variety of dried Fenugreek). Well, better than nothing. I stuffed myslef with Methi when I went to India this year. But I still crave for the flavour of fresh methi. Next year I plan to try out growing my own methi in my kitchen garden, but then that is another chapter of the book, as these summers are slowly coming to an end and the sun God has been playing games, or should I say peek-a-boo with us this time much too often.

So, I keep a good stock of Kasuri methi in my pantry. Lately I had been seeing the bottle every time I would open the door and realised that I hadn't used it since a while, but it was never the right moment to use it. But, thanks to the Fenugreek herb mania at Redchillies I read about a few days ago, it is on my mind all the time and I am discovering new ways to use dried Fenugreek and the seeds in many dishes, like here too.

So, this is my entry for Redchillies' Herb mania- Fenugreek!

And of course also to Zlamushka's monthly event Tried and Tasted where the blog of the month is none other than Jai and Bee's Jugalbandi.

10 comments:

Ivy said...

Lots of the ingredients are unknown to me but from your description is sounds great.

Sunshinemom said...

You tempt me! I used to have them so much, I became a poori myself!! Now I have them only once every two months, and that too because most of the time husband makes it:) Parents are so thoughtful! Mum and Dad double pack homemade 'avakkai' pickle the same way every year! Aren't we lucky?!!

PG said...

Ivy, thanks for visiting! I have tried to add to links to information on the spices - as to what they are and for what they are used. The best way is to try them out, although I don't know if you can get these in Greece. You'll have to find a chinese or Indian shop for them, very probably.

PG said...

sunshinemon, you are really funny! "I became a poori myself.." :D

Your hubby seems to cook a lot, is it? Oh, I would be delighted to be treated with pooris from hubby.

Maggie said...

All the spices in the bread sound wonderful! What is ajwain like? I love nigella seeds, especially with potatoes or on bread.

PG said...

Maggie, ajwain resembles a bit the Italian herb thyme and therefore also called (falsely)thyme seeds sometimes. It is a variety of seed from the fennel cumin family, but as might know each and evry one them tastes totally different. Do try it out. I love it and see the link I have given to wikipedia here for more info.

Maggie said...

Thanks for the answer! I'll have to look for it. It is amazing how many different flavors there are in that seed family. I use fennel seeds and caraway and look almost exactly alike I love the fennel but don't really care for caraway.

zlamushka said...

Wow, puri and bhajii, definitely reader´s favorite. Thanks for participating, hope to see you around next month :-)

emmani said...

Yummy!

Your puris puffed up like a dream!! Mine went wrong, I've never made them before. Thanks for the tips and well done...

Emma - Indian Earth

PG said...

Emma, Thank you so much! And I'm happy to know that the tips seem to be useful to someone. :)