Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prepping for Sankranti - Gul Poli

Today I want to share with you my very first experience of making Gul Poli (Jaggery Flatbread). Over all these years, I have been making Tilgul every Makar Sankranti. Apart from Tilgul, a very popular dish made on occasion of Sankranti in Maharashtra is Gul Poli. I had been holding myself back from making it just because I always thought it to be something very difficult and time consuming. Unlike many other festive dishes, I had never actually seen the process of making these. So, in spite of knowing the recipe I never made it. This year I was determined to try these as my husband and I absolutely love this dish.

Gul Poli is a flatbread that is made by stuffing a mixture of jaggery, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds inside a dough. For me, the actual process of stuffing, rolling and cooking did not take very long, but the preparations took quite some time.

Gul Poli
(made 11 flatbreads of 6-7 inch diameter)

To make Gul Poli, you need the following ingredients -

For Dough:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp besan (chick pea flour)
3 tbsp hot oil
1/2 cup milk
A pinch of salt

For Stuffing:
1 cup jaggery (grated)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup poppy seed powder
1/4 cup besan (chick pea flour)
1-1.5 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Before you make the stuffing, make the dough. The dough needs to rest before you roll it out.

Making the dough:

1. First sift all flours and add a pinch of salt.

2. Heat oil in a pan. The oil should be very hot.

3. Add oil to the flour mixture and incorporate well with the flour. To make sure that oil is well incorporated in flour, take a fistful of flour and rub it with your fingers. Continue this process until the oil is well mixed. To make sure, take a small quantity of flour and squeeze it in your palm. If the flour holds together, you can start making the dough. If not, add some more hot oil.

4. Now make the dough by adding milk to the flour mixture. The dough should be medium soft.

5. Once the dough is formed, knead it well. Apply some oil and cover it. Let the dough rest for a couple of hours (I let mine rest for 2 hours).

Making the stuffing:

1. In a pan, heat about a tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) and cook besan on it on low heat until golden brown. It took me about 5-7 minutes.

2. Dry roast sesame seeds, let them cool completely and then grind to a powder.

3. Mix cooled besan, jaggery, sesame seed powder, poppy seed powder and cardamom powder until well blended. This takes quite an effort, so I mixed them in a food processor. All you need to do is pulse all of these ingredients together. Once well mixed, the stuffing looks like this -

Making the Flatbreads:

1. Take a small ball of dough and roll it out about 3-4 inches in diameter (I divided my dough into 10 equal sized balls before I started).

2. Take some stuffing and put it in the center of rolled out dough (I used 1/8 cup measure to have the same amount of stuffing for each flatbread. Since there is nothing binding the stuffing, it is in a loose form. So, I packed the measuring cup with stuffing and it was easier to stuff that way).

3. Now gather all edges of the rolled dough around the stuffing (like you would do for a paratha) and remove the excess dough.

4. Dip the stuffed ball of dough in flour and start rolling it out (I rolled mine about 6-7 inches in diameter, and about 1/8" inch thick).

5. Cook on a medium heat until brown spots appear. Apply ghee on both sides as you cook.

6. Let cool completely before you store. These stay good at room temperature at least for a week, and even longer if refrigerated.

The polis turned out just wonderful and barely survived a day. Now, I am looking forward to making another batch in a day or two.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jamaican Coconut Toto

Hello there... We are already a week into the new year, but better late than never... so let me first wish all of you a very happy 2012!

Though I would like to blog more than I normally do, I have been very irregular at blogging. So naturally among many of my new year resolutions I have decided not to ignore my poor little blog, and I hope I live up to this resolution.

I read and watch a lot of food related stuff, and keep bookmarking the recipes I think I would definitely try. Now I honestly think that my bookmark is kinda of a mess. Let's see if that changes soon.

One such recipe is 'Jamaican Coconut Toto' which I have been wanting to try for over a year. My cousin had tried this recipe and had sent me a link. Finally I made it! Luckily, I had all the ingredients on hand, so when DH was out with friends the entire evening yesterday, I spent the time cooking and baking.

Jamaican Coconut Toto

(from this Sanjeev Kapoor Recipe)

I made a few changes to the original recipe -
  • Used sweetened coconut flakes instead of fresh coconut.
  • Used 3/4 cup of sugar instead of 1 cup, since I used sweetened coconut.
  • Used coconut extract instead of vanilla extract.
  • Used cardamom instead of cinnamon (since I absolutely detest cinnamon flavor in sweets).

To make coconut toto, I used -
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and beat until the mixture becomes light.

2. Add coconut extract.

3. Sift together - APF, baking powder, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder, and add it to the batter; mix well.

4. Fold in coconut flakes.

5. Lastly, add condensed milk and mix until well incorporated.

6. Transfer the mixture into a greased loaf tin and top off it with some coconut.

7. Bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes (I have had an experience with baking coconut in the past. The last time I tried baking a cake with coconut, it started browing too quickly at the suggested temperature and looked over browned by the time it was done. So this time I reduced the oven temperature, and let it cook longer).

8. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Cut into slices and serve.

The outcome is a delicious, nutty cake. However, I would like to mention a couple of things here. My cake was moist from inside, but I felt that the edges were a bit chewy. I don't know whether to attribute it to my modifications to the recipe (using coconut flakes instead of freshly grated coconut, which could have caused lack of moisture or baking at lower temperature for a longer time), or the use of condensed milk. I have never used condensed milk in baking, so I am really not sure if it makes your baked goodies slightly chewy. But, in spite of this the browned edges were the yummiest part of the toto!