These are delightful “balloon” breads that are not only intriguing to look at but wonderfully tasty. These are basically the same as a chapati but instead of being cooked on a griddle they are puffed in hot oil.
Makes about 10 pieces
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoon semolina
2 tablespoon oil or ghee
½ to ¾ cup water
Oil for frying
Mix the first five ingredients and add just enough water to make a firm dough, somewhat like a biscuit dough. Knead for 10-15 minutes – the more the dough is kneaded the lighter the bread will be. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a sheet of plastic and let it rest for at least 1 hour. If left to rest overnight in the refrigerator the finished bread will be even lighter.
Take a small piece of dough about the size of a golf ball, or a bit smaller. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into 5-inch circles, and store them in a moist cloth.
When ready to fry, cover the bottom of a wok or heavy skillet with about 2 inches of oil and heat it to 400oF. At this temperature a faint haze will raise from the surface.
Drop in one poori at a time and immediately begin spooning hot oil over it to make it puff. When poori begins to puff, pat it very gently with the bottom of a spoon for about 3 seconds. This will increase the puffing. When the poori stops sizzling and the underside is lightly brown (a few seconds and half a minute), flip it and set it on a paper towel to drain. Proceed with the rest of the batch, as swiftly as possible.
The poori will stay puffed for only about 5 minutes, so they must be served at once.
Note: The optimum amount of water to use may vary with humidity and temperature, so the amounts given in the recipes are only approximate. However, it is important not to use any more water than necessary to turn out a soft dough, very much like a pizza dough.
Since these airy puffs are perishable, wait to cook them until just before you are ready to serve the meal. Allow about ½ hour in all for rolling out and frying.
If you do not care about serving them in their puffed state, poori can be kept for half an hour by wrapping them in aluminum foil and keeping them in a warm, covered container. They can even be reheated by being foil-wrapped and set in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.