During leisurely weekends I find myself tempted to making puffy breads, they partner well with Mixed Sprouts Stew I often make for brunch. When you entertain, I encourage you to try the variations as well, a multicolored platter of spinach, tomato, yellow bell pepper and/or beet puri surely will be an attractive centerpiece. Puffy bread is called puri in India.
I’ve added sugar here, it helps to retain the puris stay puffed longer, you may omit it if you like. A special technique of adding hot oil to the flour is characteristic of southwestern region of India. Next time you make puris sprinkle about a teaspoon of cumin seeds for a novel appeal. Serve as snack or for a special Mother’s Day meal.
- 2 tablespoons oil plus additional for frying
- 2 cups Indian chapati flour (or 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup water
- Whole wheat or unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large (9 to 10-inch) wok or skillet until hot but not smoking.
2. Combine the flour (or flours), sugar and salt in the work bowl, and pulse to mix. Add the hot oil. Pulse until crumbly. With the machine running, gradually add the water through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process until the dough comes together into a ball and begins to clean the sides of the bowl. Avoid over processing.
3. Place dough on a work surface; lightly coat both your hands with oil and knead well for 6 to 8 minutes, the dough should be medium-soft and hold an impression of your fingertips when pressed. Form into a smooth ball, cover loosely with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead briefly. Divide into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a long rope between your hands; using a dough cutter cut each rope into 6 portions, about the size of walnuts. Form each portion into a smooth ball, put on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel to prevent drying. Fill the same wok or skillet with oil to a depth of 1½ inches and heat over medium-high heat until very hot. Place a ball of dough on floured work surface and roll it out to about 2½ to 3 inch circle and about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour as necessary. You can roll 4 to 6 puris ahead and place in single layer on a platter (do not stack), cover with plastic wrap.
5. Carefully slide 1 to 2 rounds into the hot oil. As puris rise to the top, use a spoon to lightly bathe them with oil so that they will begin to puff. (At this point you can roll out another ball of dough to have ready when this puri is fried.) After 20 to 30 seconds, flip puris and fry until lightly golden for 15 to 20 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the puris to a tray lined with paper towels. Repeat with the other rounds, and the remaining portions of dough.
6. Transfer the finished puris to a cloth-lined basket and serve. Or place on a cookie sheet, tent with foil and keep warm in a 250 degrees oven for up to 30 minutes.
Makes 18, Serves 3 to 4
Variations – Multicolored – Puffy Bread (Puri)
Cook 2 cups chopped spinach until wilted; add to the flour. Add 1/3 cup water first while kneading, add more if necessary according to the feel of the dough. After resting divide dough into 2 portions. Roll each portion into a large rectangle to 1/8-inch thick. Using 3½ biscuit cutter, cut out 5 to 6 rounds. Fry each round. Repeat with the other portion of dough. Reknead and reroll the trimmings and cut out and fry a few more rounds. You may do the same with the plain puri.
Tomato and/or Beet Puri
Cut off all but 1-inch of stems and roots of 1 medium red beet. Rinse, but do not peel. Cook covered in boiling salted water for 45 to 50 minutes or till tender. When cool enough to handle slip skins off the beet. Dice the beet and 1 small tomato into quarters and add to a food processor. Add ½ teaspoon sweet or hot paprika and process into a puree, scraping the sides of the bowl, if necessary; then add other ingredients gradually (do not add water) and process into smooth dough. If the dough is soft add more flour to get the right consistency.
Golden Yellow Beet and/or Yellow Bell Peppers Puri
Cut off all but 1-inch of stems and roots of 1 medium yellow beet. Rinse, but do not peel. Cook covered in boiling salted water for 45 to 50 minutes or till tender. When cool enough to handle slip skins off the beet. Dice the beet and 1 yellow bell pepper into quarters and process into a puree, scraping the sides of the bowl, if necessary; then add other ingredients gradually (do not add water) and process into smooth dough. If the dough is soft add more flour to get the right consistency.