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29 November, 2017

Diwali: A Festival of Light

Posted in : bread, food, food history, guest post, History, holidays, Indian on by : Jeanette Schramm Tags: , , , ,

This year, to bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and New Year, I’m going to feature a series of collaborative posts that highlight different winter holidays from around the world. It will be a tour of culture, history, and of course, food from all different cultures and religions, and starting it all off is the Hindu celebration of Diwali, brought to us by my dear friend Gauri Khodaskar.

Before we start, here’s a little bit of generic background on the holiday:
Diwali is the Hindu festival of light. In 2017, the holiday was on October 19th, though the date changes from year to year, always falling between mid-October and mid-November on the Gregorian calendar. On the Hindu lunisolar calendar, it falls on the 15th day of the month of Kartika (Bikram Sambat calendar) or Aippasi (Tamil calendar). This autumnal spiritual celebration (spring, in the southern hemisphere) of  the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. As one might imagine for the festival of light, decoration for the holiday involves thousands of candles and luminaries, which shine brightly throughout Diwali night. Preparations and rituals for Diwali span five days, but the main celebration is on Diwali night, when lights are lit, people dress in fine new clothes, and family prayers or puja are said to Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility and prosperity. Following prayer are fireworks and feasting, as well as the exchange of gifts among family and close friends.

Maharashtrian Puran Poli
Puran Poli is a popular sweet dish originating from the state of Maharashtra in India. It is made during some of the important festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi or Diwali.

Ingredients
For Stuffing (Puran):
250 grams Chana Dal (Skinned Split Bengal Gram available in Indian Stores)
175 grams Granulated sugar
1 tsp Cardamom powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg powder

For Covering (Poli):
200 grams Wheat flour
15 ml Vegetable oil
Pinch of Salt

For Cooking:
Ghee (Clarified Butter, also available in Indian stores)

For Serving: (Per Serving)
50 ml Milk/Curd
15 grams Ghee

To make the stuffing (Puran):

Rinse the chana dal thoroughly. Add about 500ml of water and cook the dal in a pressure cooker on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
Before proceeding, check if the dal is cooked (you should be able to mash it with bare fingers). Drain any extra water.
Heat a saucepan, pour the cooked dal and add sugar. Mix well and cook on medium heat until the consistency is dough-like (stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the saucepan).
Transfer the cooked stuffing to a soup strainer and use a ladle to mash the dal. Add cardamom powder and nutmeg powder to the mashed dal. Mix well and let cool.

Dough (Poli):
While the stuffing cools, knead a soft wheat flour dough, keeping the consistency slightly thicker than the Puran to hold the stuffing in.

Heat a griddle/Place a pan on medium heat.
Make medium sized ball of wheat dough and roll it to about 3 inches in diameter. I find it easier to press the dough in a cup-like shape. Make sure the center is thicker than the edges.
Place a portion of Puran (little enough so you can still gather the edges of the poli together on top). Gently make this into a ball and roll further to up to 6-8 inches diameter depending on the size of your stuffed ball. Dust the poli occasionally with flour to avoid sticking and tearing.
Pour some ghee on the heated pan/griddle for greasing and place the puran poli on it.
Cook until the bottom side is golden brown and turn it over to cook the other side. Make sure the dough covering is cooked. Use more ghee if necessary.

Serve the Puran poli with Milk/Curd/Ghee.

Prep time: 120 minutes
Serves 4 people
Serving Size: 2 count

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