How to Make Pooris (Puffed Indian Bread)

5 Oct

Pooris - Puffed Indian bread

Puffed and crisp, a poori is the epicure’s delight – a delicious bread to accompany potato curry, chhole or aamras. While chapatis are everyday fare, pooris sit proudly as the "special occasion" treat.

Pooris aren’t so easy to make, though, are they? I say they are, once you’ve learnt the ropes.

The good news about making pooris – it is easier than making chapatis in these two ways at least:

  • The size of a poori is smaller than a chapati, so it is simpler to form a symmetrical, even circle out of its dough.
  • Getting a poori to puff up is easier than getting a chapati to puff up.

The bad news:

  • You need to be careful of splashing hot oil.
  • You need to be mindful of the calories.

Fortunately, both the items on the "bad news" list have remedies.

For #1, do NOT chuck the rolled out poori into the oil like a bowler on the cricket field. Slide it in gently from the side of the pan.

For #2, follow these tips to cut down on the calories.

How to make pooris absorb less oil?

1. Knead the dough harder than you would for a chapati.

2. Do not let the dough rest. Roll it out and fry immediately.

3. Ensure that the oil is very hot before you begin to fry the pooris. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the pooris will soak up more of it.

Test the hotness of the oil by dropping a tiny ball of atta before frying the pooris. The atta should sizzle and turn golden-brown within seconds. The ball should NOT turn dark brown – if it does, the oil is too hot and you need to reduce the heat before starting on the pooris.

4. Use a perforated ladle or flat spatula to pick out the fried pooris from the hot oil. Before taking a poori out, let it rest gently on the side of the container to let excess oil trickle back into the pan.

5. Check for cracks on the fried pooris. In case oil has seeped in, drain it back into the frying pan.

6. Keep absorbent tissue papers on a flat surface and place the fried pooris on them.

Poori: Puffed Indian Bread

You Need:

  • Whole wheat flour (atta) – 2 cups
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Carom seeds (ajwain) – 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Water – 3/4 cups or so (to knead)
  • Oil – 2-inch deep in a kadhai (pan) for frying + a tablespoon for rolling

How To Make Poori:

Mix all the dry ingredients – atta, salt, carom seeds – together. I sometimes substitute two tablespoons of wheat flour with ragi atta in the mix. Then add water a little at a time, and knead the atta as you would for chapatis (see step A. in the post on making chapatis), except a little harder.

Once the dough is needed into an even, firm ball, pluck small balls of 1-inch diameter out of it. Roll them out into discs of about 3 inch diameter. To ease the rolling, keep a tablespoon of oil alongside and smear a little drop of oil on the dough.

Poori, Rolling Out

Notice the difference between rolling out chapatis and pooris: with chapatis, use dry flour; with pooris – oil. We could use dry flour with pooris too but this causes a little problem when frying: the oil turns cloudy. If you want to reuse the remaining oil after frying pooris, it is best to keep the oil clear.

Like your pooris crisp? Roll them out thin. If you want them softer – and you’d probably want them that way if you plan to store them for eating later – then roll them out thick.

While you roll out the pooris, fill a kadhai (or similar pan with a thick, rounded base) with oil up to 2 inches and heat it.

Kadhai with Oil

Tip: If you are handling poori-making all by yourself, roll & fry in batches. Roll out 8 to 10 pooris, keep them aside (do not stack them one on top of the other – they might stick!) and then switch to frying them. If you have help in the kitchen, one can take care of the rolling while the other handles the frying.

Test the hotness of the oil before you start frying. When the oil is hot enough, slide the poori in. The poori will sink, sizzle and rise up, swelling gracefully.

Poori Frying I

Keep pressing it gently into the oil using a perforated ladle or flat spatula to ease its swelling.

Poori Frying II

Turn the poori over in a few seconds, when the poori has puffed and the bottom has turned light golden.

Poori Frying III - Puffed Up

Let the other side turn crisp and light golden, too.

Poori Frying IV - Done

Draw the fried poori out gently using the ladle/spatula, resting it on the side of the kadhai for a couple of seconds to let excess oil trickle back into the pan.

Poori Frying V - Drain The Oil

If you are new to making pooris, I suggest frying them one at a time. Once you are confident, you can use a bigger kadhai to fry two in one go.

Keep checking the flame – you might need to lower the flame for the first couple of pooris, then increase the heat as the oil will cool with the frying.

Spread the fried pooris on absorbent tissue papers.

Pooris - Puffed Indian Bread

Serve hot pooris with a gravy of your choice. Pooris taste great with chhole masala or any potato curry.

An (old!) picture of pooris with aamras, a classic Gujarati combination.

Poori Aamras

And a (recent) picture of pooris with chhole masala and cauliflower curry:

Poori Chhole

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