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  • Puris

    YIELD: 20–25 (5-INCH / 13-CM) PURIS
    TOOLS: You’ll need a food processor; a large mixing bowl; a damp paper towel or dish cloth; a rolling pin or a tortilla press; a kadhai or a small pot; a wire mesh skimmer or slotted stainless steel spatula; and a tray lined with paper towels.

    To me, puris suggest a party. Whenever our family entertained large groups of Indian friends during my childhood, my mother would always set aside time to fry up some puris, and I would be her helper. My job was to press them thin in her tortilla press, and then she fried them to golden perfection. I could never resist those first few with a little Pudina ki Chutney. They spoiled my dinner, of course, but it was always worth it.

    • 3 cups /410 g whole-wheat chapati flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon /45 mL vegetable oil, plus more as needed for frying
    • 1½ cups /350 mL water
    • Any curry, sabji, or chutney, for serving (optional)
    1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and oil. Process until the ingredients are well blended.
    2. Slowly add the water as the food processor rotates and process until the mixture forms a dough-like consistency. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and knead well, until the dough is a large, smooth ball. Instead, you can mix all ingredients in the bowl by hand, but of course this is more labor intensive and messier.
    3. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel or dish cloth and set aside for 15 minutes. Don’t let it sit too long; if you do, the puris will soak up too much oil while frying and won’t be light and airy.
    4. Divide the dough in half. Place ½ of the dough between the palms of your hands and work it until it forms a long, thin (about ¾ inch / 2 cm wide), snake-like strip. Slice the strip into a series of ¾- to 1-inch-long / 2- to 3-cm-long pieces, depending on how large you wish the puris to be.
    5. Select 1 of the pieces of dough and roll it between your hands until it forms a smooth, round ball. Dip your fingertips into a little oil, if needed. Don’t use dry flour for puris.
    6. Prepare a clean work surface. Using a rolling pin or a tortilla press, roll (or, if using a press, 2 hard presses should do the trick) the dough into a thin, 5-inch / 13-cm circle. Repeat until you have 6 puris rolled out. Be careful not to make them too thin, as they will crisp up too much when frying. Of course, if you make them too thick, they won’t puff properly when cooking. Getting them just right may take a little practice, but not to worry. Keep trying and you’ll be sure to perfect it. You can also make 3-inch / 8-cm rounds if you prefer a smaller puri, traditional in some parts of India.
    7. In a kadhai or small pot over medium–high heat, warm 1 inch / 3 cm of the oil (if it’s any deeper, it won’t get hot enough to fry the puris properly). Test that the oil is hot enough by dropping in a pinch of the uncooked dough. If it rises immediately to the top, the oil is ready. If it sinks to the bottom, the oil needs to be heated longer.
    8. From the side of the pan, slowly slide the 6 puris into the hot oil and cook for 40 seconds on 1 side. As the puris are cooking, use a wire mesh skimmer or slotted stainless steel spatula to gently push it down and allow some of the hot oil to pour over it. Turn the puris over and cook on the other side for 30 seconds, until lightly browned. Gently bring the puris to the side of the pan and allow the excess oil to drip away. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
    9. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 to roll out the remaining dough into rounds. Repeat Step 8 until all the remaining puris have been fried and stacked on the tray. Remove from the heat.
    10. Serve the puris traditionally with any curry, sabji, or chutney. You can also stack the puris, let them cool, and wrap them first in a dish cloth and then tightly wrap with aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.*

    *If you are storing the puris, reheat them before serving by warming them on the stovetop in a dry cast-iron pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or place in the oven at 300°F / 150°C for 2 to 3 minutes.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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