My wife is from the large central Indian state of Maharashtra
. A staple in the cuisine
is an unleavened flat wheat bread called poli
. A version stuffed with jaggery
(unrefined sugar; also called gul
) and ground sesame seeds (til
) is especially made at one of the few annual Indian solar (as opposed to lunar) holidays, Makar Sankranti
, which is celebrated either on the 14th or 15th of January
. Traditionally, people wish each other Tilgul ghya goad bola
("Enjoy gulachi poli
and speak sweetly") to encourage good relationships.
My wife rarely cooks, but wanted to try making gulachi poli
. She called a favorite aunt in India and got her recipe, which I'm copying below (I also found a good description
on the Food-n-More blog
). She made a batch of poli
s yesterday and I said that I would make something that likely would go with this bread. She told me that the gulachi poli
is traditionally eaten with a lot of ghee put on top; rather that substitute Earth Balance vegan margarine, she wanted to try almond butter. I warmed the poli
s with a little bit of Earth Balance on a cast iron pan and served us each two of them, with about a tablespoon of almond butter on the upper poli
of each plate.
I thought that the poli
was pretty good and not too sweet. I treated it as a dessert and didn't use it to scoop up the main courses. She actually thought of her poli
as the main course! In that spirit, the "side dishes" that I made included a green lentil dish and grilled zucchini (I simply lightly browned thin zucchini slices in a little Mongolian Fire Oil
, then served with a little paprika sprinkled atop).
For the lentils, I put a little walnut oil in a pan for a very quick saute of about a half medium onion, diced into approximately 1/4" cubes. A minute or so into the saute, I added yellow crookneck squash, cut into approximately 1/2" pieces; in another minute or so, I added about 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds, continued stirring for half a minute or so, then added green lentils and water in a 1:3 ratio (I used about half of a small 6 ounce vegan yogurt container and one and a half containers of water). I added a little salt, turmeric, and red chile powder, and brought to a boil, then simmered, covered, for about 30-40 minutes till the lentils were softened.
Yesterday, we went to the monthly film of the local The Cinema, Inc.
group. They showed a very sweet French documentary film from 2002 about a dedicated and loving teacher teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in a French agricultural village, Être et avoir
(To Be and To Have
). We ate out at Lilly's Pizza
, just down the street from the film. We shared a salad, a rather unique small pizza (no sauce but truffle oil instead, with roasted potatoes, fresh basil, and artichoke hearts as toppings), and a stromboli. The food was very steaming hot and good. We brought home leftover stromboli, so blog readers will see it in the coming days. You'll also see a version of the pizza; they goofed as we asked for no cheese (my wife doesn't even like vegan soy cheese), but they put on VeganRella, so offered it to me to bring home for no charge and made us a new pizza.
My wife's Gulachi Poli recipe
Ingredients(Makes about 8-10 small poli
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup Bengal gram (chickpea) flour
- 1/2 cup jaggery
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 3-4 teaspoons cardamom seeds (app. 30)
- Add to the whole wheat flour the unheated cooking oil then mix in about 1/2 cup water
- You should end up with fairly stiff dough; set aside in a covered bowl
- Grate/mash jaggery to make it powdery smooth without any lumps
- Roast sesame seeds on low heat until they turn golden brown (be careful not to burn them)
- Grind cardamom seeds in a food processer; add roasted sesame and use pulse mode to grind it all to a powder
- Roast the gram flour on low heat until it turns golden brown; add jaggery and ground sesame seed, mixing well and resulting in a similar consistency to the whole wheat ball (fi too dry, add a teaspoon or two of water)
- Prepare small uniform spheres of the wheat dough and of the stuffing, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
- Divide each wheat ball into two equal halves and roll each half into a small 2 - 2 1/2 inch diameter thick disc
- Place a ball of stuffing in between two dough discs and pinch down to close all around the stuffing
- Place this nascent roti onto a flat pan that has been heated on medium heat
- When you see small reddish-black spots on the top, check that the bottom has turned a light roasted brown; once it is, flip and roast the other side
In this way, make all of the rotis. Let them cool, uncovered. They last in a covered dish, unrefrigerated, for about a week. Serve hot or cold with a dollop of Earth Balance margarine or almond butter.