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Warm, fluffy puris—they mend broken hearts. They encourage joy. The puri-bhaaji combination is a popularly served dish in most parts of the country. This refined or whole wheat flour (depending on the region in India it is made), deep-fried Indian unleavened bread may be a bit high on calories, but so soft and satisfying. It’s a challenge to get them to fluff up while you’re frying and it’s an even bigger challenge to keep them puffed and crispy till you consume them. The trick lies in perfecting the dough—once you get that right, it’s half the battle won. The second trick lies in acing the temperature of the oil used for frying.
- The dough should be stiff. Mix two cups of wheat flour, two tablespoon of oil and salt to taste so that the oil gets well incorporated into the flour. Slowly add in warm water and knead well into the dough. Knead for about 5-10 minutes till the dough is even and you can also add a teaspoon of hot oil while kneading as this will prevent the dough from drying out. Then, add a few drops of oil to the kneadeddough to coat it and let it rest for a few minutes; not for too long, otherwise the dough will become too soft, which will eventually make the puris non-fluffy.
- Knead the dough again and then divide the dough into small golf ball-sized spheres. Coat them with oil so that the oil in the wok stays clean and no dark burnt flour particles remain in the frying pan oil or sticks to the subsequent batches of puris. Taking one ball at a time, press it flat with your palm, then using a rolling pin, roll out the balls into round discs. They should be smaller than chapatti discs and slightly thicker (so that they can fluff up) as well.
- Take enough oil in a wok or kadhai so that the puri can be submerged and given space to rise. Heat the oil on medium flame. The trick here is that the oil should be sufficiently hot, else the puri won’t be fluffy. To test the oil temperature, gently put in a tiny ball from the dough into the wok. If it fluffs up and comes afloat immediately, the oil is hot enough.
- Gently slide the previously prepared discs into the wok from the side. The puri should settle at the bottom for a few seconds before it floats up. Once it comes up, gently press on one side or from the top with a frying ladle. This will help the puri to puff up. The science behind this puffed up puri is that the moisture in the dough changes into steam which expands in all directions when deep-fried. Flip the puri and cook the other side as well till it becomes golden brown. Then, using a ladle, scoop the puri to the side of the wok and drain out all the excess oil. Remove the puri and put it on an absorbent paper towel. Remember not to stack up the puris one over the other, as this may cause them to collapse and not be fluffy anymore. Place them side by side.
1. Soak some sooji (Semolina) in water for 10 minutes. This will make it soft and then you can add it to the flour in the dough. This makes crispier puris.
2. A pinch of Ajwain in the dough also makes the puris easily digestible.
3. Adding a teaspoon of sugar in the dough will give the puris a gorgeous golden tinge.
4. Some people also add milk or vinegar to the dough for crispy puris.
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