You call Bhakshalu, Oliga, Poornam poli, sweet chapati or Puran Poli, It is Indians most favorite festive sweet. Name itself makes me drool. Traditionally made with channa dal (Split pigeon peas), jaggery stuffed in flour dough and fried on the griddle. Pumpkin stuffing makes the dish so light, you can pour the ghee you have been waiting, as much as you want. It not as time-consuming as the traditional dish. You can replace the pumpkin with sweet potato or squash. Remember pumpkin is really a squash. Read about pumpkins and squashes more here.
Pooran (poornam) poli is made for festivals especially for New year as Gudi Padwa which is celebrated as the Maharashtrian new year in the state of Maharashtra, Ugadi which is celebrated as the Telugu new year in states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in India. When families gather to celebrate festivals, poli is the most awaiting dish.
Though traditionally made with Channa dal (dried split pigeon peas), you can make with other ingredients as well. If it is pumpkin season here in the United States. Why not with pumpkin? Pumpkins are actually very healthy! They are low in calories, fat and sodium, and rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber! I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. Using whole wheat makes the dough a bit soggy. I make my poli’s slowly and small. Pumpkin and whole wheat are soft ingredients which make this dish hard to roll. Once made, pour as much ghee on top, still, they are so light and tasty.
For newbies, it is a long process, and if stuffing doesn’t come to the right consistency, you can’t make. Many home cooks struggle few times. Once you get hang of it, a piece of cake. Making of pumpkin stuffing isn’t that hard. The golden rule to remember is not to over-cook pumpkin. If you overcook, it retains a lot of water and is not hard enough to stuff. If you are not sure how long to cook pumpkin, cut pumpkin into big pieces. Either cook in pressure cooker or in a pot. If cooking in the pressure cooker, I don’t wait for the whistle. When whistle starts wiggling I turn the stove off. If they are not cooked, I let them cook in same water till slightly soft. If cooking in a pot, submerge large pieces in water. Boil for 15 mins. Prick with fork and test to see if pumpkin is soft. Turn off once it is a bit soft. If it is a bit under-cooked, that’s ok. You have another round to cook with dates anyway.
This dish is not native to Nallagonda region where my mother is from in Andhra Pradesh. She never made them. I and my sisters heard from our friends. Once we went to our aunts home to celebrate a festival. There my she was making them. We three sisters glanced at each other silently. We knew we are eager and none of us want to lose this chance to taste them. When they are ready we pretended as if we are taking the plate silently. But at the table, we were fighting.
- 2 cups - fresh cooked, mashed pumpkin or squash. I used buttercup squash.
- 1 cup - fresh ground date paste. It is ok if it is a bit chunky. You can replace with jaggery or honey.
- ⅛th tsp - fresh ground cardamom
- 2 tbsp - ghee
- Dough ingredients
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼th cup water
- Prepare dough. Add all-purpose and whole wheat flour to mixing bowl. Slowly add water little by a little while kneading. Make the medium hard dough. Keep aside for at least an hour.
- Cut pumpkin into large pieces. Remember not to over-cook pumpkin. If you overcook, it retains a lot of water and is not hard enough to stuff. If you are not sure how long to cook pumpkin, cut pumpkin into big pieces. Either cook in pressure or in a pot. In the pressure cooker, Don’t wait for a whistle. When whistle starts wiggling turn stove off. If they are not cooked, Let them cook in same water till slightly soft. If cooking in a pot, submerge large pieces in water. Boil for 15 mins. Prick with fork and test to see if pumpkin is soft. Turn off once it is a bit soft. If it is a bit under-cooked, that’s ok. You have another round to cook with dates anyway.
- Once cooked, remove and discard skin. After cooked, the skin comes off easily with hand.
- In a pan, add ½ tbsp ghee, add mashed pumpkin. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir every 1 minute.
- Now add ground dates paste or jaggery and cardamom. Cook till all water evaporates and consistency is hard to stuff. It should be equal to dough consistency. Let them cool. Make 2 inch balls. Keep aside.
- Heat griddle on medium.
- Make 2 inch balls out of dough. Roll with pin till 6 inches in diameter.
- Place stuffing ball in the middle. Close dough from all sides.
- Sprinkle flour on top in preparation to roll. Sprinkle more if the dough is sticking.
- Roll with pin slowly. Or press with hand.
- When balls are flattened like naan, slowly remove and place on griddle. To easily remove, few of them press on a ziplock bag or parchment paper. This way you can lift ziplock and reverse on the griddle to safely place.
- Cook both side with more ghee until golden brown.
- Serve hot with ghee and milk.