Urad dhal Puri (spicy balloon bread)

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These delicious flat breads are a lovely addition to any Indian meal. They’re deep fried so maybe not something that you’d want to serve as standard, but they are so gorgeous that it’s well worth adding them to your special occasion recipes. And hey, they’re made with lentils and wholemeal flour?

The dough is made with soaked Urid Dal (which are small, white lentils that you can buy from Indian shops or in some World Food aisles at larger supermarkets),  spices and wholewheat flour. When you submerge the rolled out dough under the bubbling oil, they puff up dramatically and because the outside cooks crisply, they don’t  deflate at all which make them quite spectacular to put on the table. They’re hollow inside, so the shell is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside – perfect for scooping up curries!

This recipe makes 8 large Puri or 12 small

1/4 cup of urid dal (or skinless, split moong dal) which you’ll need to soak for 4-6 hours in cold water (just remember to put them in water before you go to work or go out shopping if it’s the week end and they’ll be done when you get back)

Before soaking, left. After soaking, right.
Before soaking, left. After soaking, right.

1 cup wholemeal flour

1tblsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in a pestle and mortar

1tblsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp asafoetida (aka hing)

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/4 tsp ground ginger powder

2tblsp oil

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Drain the dal and coarsely grind in a mini chopper/mini food processor. Scrape the bowl down as necessary, adding a tiny amount of water if necessary to loosen it up. You need to keep water to an absolute minimum.

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Mix the dry ingredients together – flour, ground coriander, ground ginger, fennel, asafoetida, salt and chilli flakes.

Add the dal paste and mix together with your hand, squishing everything together.

20150815_175434Add a 1/4 cup (60ml) of water slowly to bring everything together into a tough dough, then add 1 1/2 tblsp oil.

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Squish the oil through with your hand until it’s incorporated. Knead well – for about 5 minutes to make the puri light. Put in a plastic bag or cover with cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Oil your palm and knead again for a couple of minutes before cutting the dough into the required amount of puri. Knead each into a ball to make them smooth.

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Lightly grease a rolling pin and the work surface where you’ll be rolling out. Roll out the balls until they’re quite thin, a bit thicker than a penny. Don’t stack them on top of each other because they’ll stick together.

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Put about 8-10cm of flavourless oil into a wok/medium saucepan and heat until a tiny ball of dough floats to the surface after a second or two (another way of seeing if it’s ready is to put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if bubbles appear around it, it’s good to go).

Slide one of the rolled discs into the hot oil and immediately gently but firmly press in down with a slotted spoon. The disc should start to puff up in places or completely. Turn the disc over straight away to cook the other side. At this point the disc should have inflated completely. Cook for another few seconds until golden brown and transfer to kitchen roll to drain. If your puri don’t rise completely, don’t worry – they’ll still taste good. By the end of frying, you’ll get the hang of it for next time.

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Blurry action shots – they’re fast movers!
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They puff up very quickly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue until all of the discs are cooked. Serve straight away, or reheat in a hot oven for a couple of minutes (although they are better, fresh from the pan!)

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