Poli (போளி) is a sweet that is served along with the traditional meal on festival days, especially on ‘Aavani avittam’ (ஆவணி அவிட்டம்) and ‘bhogi’ (போகி) festival, though some prefer to make it on ‘Vinayaka chathurthi’ (விநாயக சதுர்த்தி) and ‘Diwali’(தீபாவளி). Poli is often included in the wedding feast menu as well. This sweet has an outer covering made of all purpose flour enclosing an inner layer of filling called ‘pooranam’ (பூரணம்) either made of Bengal gram dhal or coconut. Traditionally jaggery is used as a sweetener; however, sugar may also be used. Poli also makes a great dessert or snack. I still have the warm memories my grandmother making polis during holidays for us grand children to enjoy! Let’s follow the step-by-step instructions and make delicious polis. Are we ready?
Ingredients: (makes approximately 8 polis)
For the pooranam or filling:
Coconut – white meat of half a coconut
Jaggery – powdered, ½ teacup or 100ml measure
Cardamoms – 3 no
For the covering:
All purpose flour or maida – 1 teacup or 200ml measure
Salt – 2 generous pinches
Gingelly oil – 2 tablespoons
Oil – for making poli
Ghee – for cooking poli
Method – How to make coconut filling or thengai pooranam (தேங்காய் பூரணம்): Remove cardamom seeds and powder them using the mortar and pestle. Cut the white meat of coconut into small pieces. Grind the coconut meat using the mixer grinder, preferably by turning whipper button 2-3 times. Keep aside.
Heat powdered jaggery with ¼ teacup (50ml) of water in a kadai. Stir occasionally till jaggery is dissolved fully. Switch off the stove and filter through a sieve to remove impurities. Now heat the filtered jaggery solution in the kadai and bring it to boil. Allow it to boil for a minute. Add the grated coconut and cardamom powder. Mix well and cook on low flame till the water is fully absorbed and the contents start to separate from the sides of the kadai (Fig.1). Switch off the stove and allow it to cool. Later divide the pooranam into 8 equal parts and keep aside.
|Fig.1: Thengai pooranam (தேங்காய் பூரணம்)
How to make the covering: Mix all purpose flour, salt and required water in a bowl, and knead the contents into smooth dough. Add oil little by little and knead very well. The dough should be of rolling consistency. Cover the dough with a wet cloth and allow it to stand for about 15-20 minutes. Later divide the dough into 8 equal parts and shape them into balls. Keep aside.
How to make the poli: Place one dough ball on a plate (Fig.2). Traditionally plantain leaf (வாழை இலை) is used for this purpose.
|Fig.2: Dough for the covering
Smear your fingers with oil and flatten the dough ball with your fingers into a circle of 4” diameter. Place a portion of pooranam in the center (Fig.3)
|Fig.3: Coconut filling placed on the dough layer
Bring the edges of the dough layer over the pooranam as shown in the figure to cover the filling fully (Fig.4).
|Fig.4: Coconut filling covered by dough layer on all sides
Apply little oil and flatten the ball with your fingers into a circle of 7-8” diameter (Fig.5), while taking care that the filling does not come out of the covering dough layer. Over all, the poli should be of uniform thickness. Repeat the process with remaining dough balls.
|Fig.5: Dough layer containing pooranam flattened to form poli
Heat a tava on medium flame. Place one poli in the center, smear the surface with ghee. Turnover and apply ghee on the other surface as well. Continue to cook by turning the poli as required, till brown spots appear on both sides. Remove from the tava and cook the remaining polis in the same way. Serve hot either alone as a snack/ dessert or as part of the traditional feast menu.
|Coconut Poli (தேங்காய் போளி)