No feast for any occasion in any part of India would be complete without a poori or puri.
This puffy, deep-fried bread, with its pert, rotund looks and unparalleled delicousness, is deeply beloved by kids and adults. When it makes an occasional appearance at lunch in our home it puts smiles on both Desi's and Jay's faces.
Pooris are super simple to make. There are just four ingredients in the dough--flour, water, oil and salt--and you will need vegetable oil to deep fry them.
Almost anyone can make a decent poori, but to make a perfect poori thats crisp yet soft, and that puffs up into a perfect round in the hot oil, you need some skill. Practice will definitely help and the more pooris you make, the better you'll get at it.
I'm going to make the process easier for you by sharing the tips and tricks I've learned over years of making this bread, and I'm going to share them with you today. It should help give you a leg up, for sure, and you will soon be turning out perfect pooris faster than you think.
What you'll love
- Although they are deep-fried, and I get that you have sworn yourself off "unhealthy" foods, you'd have to be a true damp squib to turn your nose up at a poori. For one, it's absolutely delicious, the perfect bread to scoop up chana masala or any spicy curry with.
- It's not that unhealthy. It's made with whole wheat flour.
- It's crispy and soft, all at the same time.
- It's easy enough to make.
- Whole wheat flour. If you have access to atta, a whole wheat flour sold at Indian stores and online, use it because it works best here. Atta is more finely ground that regular whole wheat sold in U.S. stores and I've seen it in the international foods aisle at Whole Foods, although your local Indian grocer is probably a better bet for price. You will get the best pooris with atta, but if you can't find it, just use whole wheat flour.
- Vegetable oil: You need just a tiny bit to make the dough, but you will need more for deep frying. A flavorless oil that has a high smoke point, like peanut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, avocado oil or canola oil works best to deep-fry foods like pooris. I usually cook with avocado oil but I keep peanut oil or sunflower oil on hand for deep frying.
- Salt, no more than half a teaspoon.
- Water, for kneading.
Tips and tricks for the perfect poori
- The first step is to make your dough, and all you need to do is mix the flour with the oil and salt and then knead it with just enough water. To ensure you will get perfect pooris, you need to get the consistency of your dough right. For pooris you want a stiff dough with no stickiness. You are less likely to make a mistake and overmoisten your dough if you knead by hand. Trickle the water in a tiny bit at a time. If you do make your dough in the food processor or stand mixer--and you totally can--make sure you drizzle water in very, very slowly so you don't accidentally overmoisten.
- Once you have your stiff dough, place it in an airtight container and set it aside to rest for half an hour.
- Now comes the really important part: rolling the pooris. This step will decide whether or not your pooris puff up in the oil and become perfectly round. An unevenly rolled poori won't puff up.
- To get perfect, evenly rolled pooris, don't use the heave rolling pins with ball bearings that you'd use to roll out pie or puff pastry--use a French rolling pin, which is slimmer and is much easier to make small breads, like pooris, with. Indian rolling pins are very much like the French pins and you can find them at an Indian grocery store or online.
- My final tip is to ensure you have your oil at the perfect temperature. It's really worth investing in a frying thermometer or candy thermometer and to ensure that you keep the oil between 360 and 375 degrees at all times when you're frying the puris. This ensures that the food takes in very little oil, and reduces the guilt that comes with eating deep-fried foods.
- Fry a single poori at a time. Push the poori down into the oil, gently, with a spider or spatula, until it begins to puff up. Wait until it's perfectly round before you flip it. If it doesn't puff up (don't worry, you will get better with practice, flip it once it turns golden on the underside). Fry the other side for about 20-30 seconds more.
- For crispy pooris, let them go longer in the oil.
- Always place the freshly-fried pooris on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to let any excess oil clinging to the pooris drip off.
- Always eat the pooris right after you make them. The air in the poori will dissipate the longer it stands, and it will deflate. It will taste delicious still but a hot poori is a gastronomic experience to be cherished.
- To make pooris crisper you can also use a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour.
What to serve pooris with
- Chana Masala (or serve it with the chickpea curry in this Chana Bhatura recipe)
- A spicy curry like this vegan keema masala or this Instant Pot Vegan Butter Chicken.
- A dry potato curry like this Batatyachi Bhaji. This is how we eat pooris in Maharashtra, the state where I was born.
- Pooris are also great to scoop up sweet foods, and aamras, a dish very like this mango cashew cream, is perfect to scoop up with this bread.
Poori or Puri recipe
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (preferably atta flour)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp salt
- Water for kneading dough (approx 1 cup, although you may need more or less)
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor, mix the flour, oil and salt.
- Trickle in the water and knead until a stiff dough forms. If using a food processor or stand mixer, keep it running as you add the water. Don't dump the water all at once. You may need more or less depending on the humidity in your area that day. Add more flour if you end up adding too much water.
- Once the dough comes together, roll it into a smooth ball and place it in an airtight container for at least 30 minutes to rest.
- Divide the dough into approx 20- 24 balls. You can make bigger or smaller pooris, depending on your preference.
- Roll each ball of dough into a circle, about 3-4 inches in diameter. The pooris should not be too thick nor thin-roll them to approx the thickness of a tortilla. Remember, rolling them even is key here.
- Heat oil for deep frying in a wok or a kadhai. Heat the oil to 375 degrees-- a frying thermometer or candy thermometer is a great investment. Another way to test the temperature of the oil is to break off a teeny tiny bit of the dough and put it in the frying pan. If it sinks to the bottom and rises immediately, your oil is hot enough. If not, wait. Putting foods in cold oil is a surefire way to make the food suck in all the oil and what you'll get is oil-clogged, limp pooris.
- Place a single poori in the center of the wok. Use a spider or a spatula to push down the center of the poori into the oil, gently, until the poori begins to puff up. Once the poori has puffed up fully, flip it and cook about 30 seconds more.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Eat rightaway.