America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
|From Chicken One:
As we mentioned in our last post, the first time we tried these flatbreads from India it was a total SCAFU (Situation Chicken All Fowled Up)! So, get your mango chutney and chickpea filling ready, because the second time was the charm and today you can see our success with these things.
My recipe is from Indian Harvest by Vikas Khanna and is a variation on Marathi puran poli, sez the author. Well, those words meant nothing to me, so I ran a quick search online after my first attempt. I found that the Marathi is large group (about 120 million souls) in and around western India's state of Maharashtra. Their language is also called Marathi.
Puran poli is a festival bread for special occasions, which I'd guessed because it's so sweet. The sweet filling is the 'puran' part and the flatbread is the 'poli'. Side note: flatbreads in general can also be called 'roti', which is easy to remember because - round!
I should have run my internet search before I tried the flatbread the first time, because I found this great, step-by-step description with lovely photos here.
So, after wrestling with a very stiff, brittle dough in the first attempt (don't look at these photos from the first time)...
So here is a much more authentic-looking, elastic dough from Round Two.You're supposed to roll it out very flat then put a dollop of the puran filling in the middle:
Once it's sealed, roll it out as flat as possible. You can see here that I need a couple of decades more practice before I can get it to roll out the second time without squishing out through the dough:
I ran out of puran filling about halfway through (because I'd eaten so much of it beforehand!), so I made plain poli with the rest of the dough.
The whole thing is supposed to puff up, but the closest I got was one side puffing up, but at that point I felt like I'd won the flatbread Olympics!
We are so happy we did this a second time! In addition, we had fun using our new chaklas and belans - and we learned just how appropriate to the work those tools are.
A word about the taste: the puran filling is very sweet and delicious. The flatbread, however, as the vehicle to deliver the flavor, is very neutral and bland, though it has coconut in it.
Try these recipes and let us know how you fare.
From Chicken Two:
If you've been following my Poop from the Coop, you know I tried this a while ago and failed miserably. (I highly recommend reading this...you will find some helpful hints) This second attempt was much better, being oh so much wiser this time! I made the recipe the night before (not something mentioned in the directions), wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it. (also not mentioned. Hey, what's a little departure from the instructions, right?)
This actually dried it out slightly and made it much easier to roll out. I still used lots of flour to roll it out, but not nearly as much as I did last time when trying to get it to roll without sticking to everything.
In fact, I found that if I made a ball, then patted the ball flat with my hands, and then tried to roll it out, it was much easier to work with.
Overall, the experience was much better and I'm glad we repeated the process so I could at least get closer to the intended result. I'm convinced that the humidity in Florida, in spite of the a/c, makes a big difference in how dough reacts.
I will say this....after refrigerating it
overnight, I was able to taste the spices...in fact there was a nice little kick to the bread as an after taste.
These breads are great vehicles for some awesome dips and chutneys!
Give this a try and let me know how you did!
Puran Poli (Jaggery and Cardamom Festival Flatbread)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + more for dusting
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons grated coconut
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 3/4 cup water
- Toast the coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
- Combine flours in large bowl with coconut, yogurt and 1 teaspoon oil. Mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing well after each, until a pliable dough forms (about 3/4 cup water total). Cover with damp towel and let rest 30 minutes or more at room temperature.
- Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Flatten a ball on a floured surface and roll to 6-inch-diameter disc. Brush lightly with oil.
- Spoon filling into middle. Gather edges of dough and crimp around filling, pressing out all air. Seal dough well and flatten ball with palm. Roll into 4-to-6-inch disc.
- Place on oiled griddle or cast iron pan over medium heat. Cook 1-to-2 minutes per side until lightly browned with dark spots and puffy areas.
- Remove to serving plate. Repeat with rest of dough.
- Serve warm or cool.
Aloo Parantha (Potato Chili Bread)
- 1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems
- 6 pieces fresh ginger (25-cent size; unpeeled)
- 2 fresh green serrano chiles
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 cup durum wheat (semolina) flour
- 1/2 cup pastry flour + more for dusting
- ghee or melted butter
- Boil potatoes until soft and mashable. Save about 1/2 cup of the potato water when draining.
- Combine cilantro, ginger and chiles in a food processor and, using pulse, mince until fragrant but not watery.
- Combine potatoes to the minced herb-chile blend, add salt and the garam masala.
- Add the durum and pastry flour. Add a few tablespoons of warm potato water, stirring as you go. Keep adding water by the tablespoon until the mixture forms a soft ball.
- Gather the dough and knead into a soft ball. If it's too wet, dust it with a little more pastry flour and knead until you get the right soft-dry consistency. (remember my warning!) Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
- Roll dough into an 8-inch log and cut crosswise into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and press flat.
- Heat a medium skillet (preferably non stick or cast iron) over medium heat.
- While the pan is heating, roll out a dough patty into a round of about 5 or 6 inches in diameter. Make sure it's evenly thin.
- Place the round in the skillet and cook until some bumps and bubbles appear and the underside has some brown spots and looks cooked, 2 or 3 minutes.
- Immediately turn the round over until the second side has brown spots. Brush the round with ghee and turn it over to sear it, about 15 seconds; repeat with other side.
- Remove from pan and slip between two sheets of foil to keep warm.
- Repeat with remaining dough.
- Best served fresh and warm but they will keep, wrapped in foil and refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Reheat, still wrapped in foil, in a 250 degree oven F for 20 minutes.