April 18, 2014

Paal Poli

I suppose every one of us have a favorite childhood food memory that can transport us back in time. The taste, smell, and texture of such foods can bring back powerful memories with amazing details. So, do you have one that can bring out the child in you? Do you have one that you can't possibly pass up?

Well, for me it is "Paal poli", undoubtedly one of my childhood favorites. Over the years, the list of my favorite food has grown long for sure, but this one always have a special place. Paal poli, deep-fried semolina flatbread soaked in thick & reduced cardamom-flavored milk, is a sweet, delectable and oh-so good dessert! A rich, special south-Indian sweet course that right royally makes its way into almost every wedding menu. If my memory doesn't fail me, I too remember eating paal poli only at the weddings.

The speciality of this dish is that the deep-fried poori's have to have the right texture, neither crunchy nor floppy, and the milk neither too thick nor too runny. With every spoonful of this deliciousness, while cardamom flavored milk hits your tastebuds with a rich note, the poori's soaked in milk adds an enjoyable bite, slightly crunchy and heavily juicy (from all the soaking), is nothing but a divine experience!

This year on the Tamil new year's day (Apr 14th), somehow my memories decided to catch up with me and made me want to make "paal poli" for dessert. So, I turned to my only reliable resort, my cooking guru, my mom for a recipe and she surprised me with one! Though, she did not frequently make this dish at home, she had a recipe from her grand-mom that is so traditional & old-fashioned.

Though, I followed her recipe to the T for semolina poori, I decided to fancy up the milk with ground cashew & almond paste and I must give it to the final outcome of this recipe. And, is there anything better than to relive your favorite food memory with a time-tested recipe? You bet!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 30 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 12 poli

1 cup very fine Semolina/Rava
1/4 cup Water + 1/8 cup, use as needed

3 cups Milk
10 Cashews
1/4 cup slivered almonds (10 blanched whole almonds)
3 Cardamom pods
1 cup Sugar

Oil - for deep frying
Pistachios - 1 tsp, chopped for garnish

Soak cashews and almonds in a tbsp of milk for 15-20 mins.

Add 1/4 cup of water to rava and knead until everything comes together. Now to this dough, sprinkle water little by little as needed and continue to knead for about 15-20 mins until you get a firm, soft & smooth dough. Keep it covered and set aside for another 20 mins.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and roll them into balls. Using a rolling pin, roll all of the balls into thin & flat poli. Heat oil for deep frying. Fry all the rolled out poli on medium flame until crisp. Remove fried poli out of the oil and drain excess oil in a clean & dry kitchen towel. Keep it aside until use.


In a saucepan, boil milk on low heat. Let the milk continue to boil until the quantity of milk reduces by 1/4th. Add sugar and let it continue to boil on low heat. In the meanwhile, use mixer and grind soaked cashews & almonds into a fine paste. Add this to the milk, bring it to another boil and remove from heat.

Transfer the boiled milk onto a wide plate. Gently soak both the sides of fried poli. Transfer it onto a serving plate, spoon couple of ladles of milk, garnish chopped pistachios on top. Serve immediately.

- Sending this off to Made with Love Mondays!