Each festival in Bihar has a signature sweet linked with it: thekua for chhatth, pidukiya for teej, tilkut for Makar Sankranti – and pua for Holi. But when the goodies are this good, why wait for an occasion to cook? Build your own reason for sweet celebration.
This post tells you how to make Bihar’s pua. Pua is sometimes confused with malpua, but the two are not the same. Malpua is soaked in sugar syrup post-frying, while pua is not – it has sugar mixed into the batter itself. A good pua is thin, crisp when just-fried, and mildly sweet. Because puas are dry, and can pass for snacks as well as desserts, they are a popular "take-back-from-home" food for those studying/working away from home. And as anyone who has lived in a hostel will testify, dabbas of pua can get licked clean in no time by a horde of hostel-mates ;-)
- Maida (refined flour) – 1 cup
- Sooji (semolina) – 1/4 cup
- Water – for making the batter
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Banana (ripe) – 1
- Dry fruits (walnuts, cashew nuts, raisins) – 2 tablespoons, finely chopped
- Dry coconut – 1 teaspoon, finely chopped/grated
- Cardamoms – 10
- Oil – for deep frying
How To Make Pua:
1. Make the batter
Place maida (refined flour), sooji (semolina) and sugar in a pan. Stir in water, a little at a time, till the batter reaches dropping consistency.
What’s this "dropping consistency"?
The batter has dropping consistency when it slides slowly off the spoon when lifted. To test, dip a spoon into the batter and turn it over. If the batter sticks to the overturned spoon, it is too thick (=> add more water). If the batter pours down, it is too thin (=> add more flour to fix).
Set the pua batter aside for 5 hours.
Peel and crush the cardamoms. Add powdered cardamom and chopped dry fruits to the batter.
Just before you’re about to fry the puas, mash a ripe banana and add it to the batter.
2. Fry the puas
In a wok or kadhai, heat enough oil for deep frying (one pua at a time).
To test that the oil is hot enough for frying: Gently drop a tiny blob of batter into the oil. If it sizzles and browns immediately, the oil is hot enough. If it doesn’t, the oil needs to be heated more. If the batter blob turns black, the oil is too hot – switch off the heat for a few seconds and then test again.
Using a ladle, spoon out the batter and pour it gently into the hot oil.
As it fries, the batter will (on its own) flatten out into disk shape and the edges will start to crisp up.
At this stage, while the surface below browns, use a flat spatula to slowly move the oil from the sides of the kadhai towards the center above the pua. This helps the pua to cook evenly.
After a minute or so, when the pua has browned from the bottom, turn it over and fry on the second side.
After another minute, use the spatula to press the pua on the side of the kadhai to release its excess oil.
Take the fried pua out of the pan and place it on absorbent paper. Repeat for the next pua.
Tips and Tricks:
When you drop the batter in oil, you might see it stick to the bottom of the kadhai. Don’t panic and don’t get into frenzied scraping. After a while, the pua will leave the bottom of the kadhai of its own volition.
Pua tastes best when not more than 1/4 inch thick. If your puas are turning out thicker, mix some more water into the batter.
The action of sweeping oil from the sides towards the center also has the effect of giving a slight curl and extra crunch to the edges, as you can see from the pics.
Puas stay good for 2-3 days at room temperature, and upto a week if refrigerated. They taste best warm, a few minutes after they have been fried, or reheated if they have been refrigerated.
Check out other recipes from Bihar on The Steaming Pot.