Monday, March 4, 2013

A Power Breakfast-- Poori Bhaji

My conundrum this morning is breakfast. I ponder the choices I have. American verses Indian? Pancakes verses Poori Bhaji? Geets, my tagda buddy, has arrived to galvanize me into action. I want to make her a breakfast of spice and sustenance. She loves breakfast Indian Style like sabudana khichadi, poha, masala toast. Oh yes, I will indulge her in hot pooris and spicy potato bhaji. Though mine is not a patch on the famous Khopoli poori bhaji, a greasy delicious snack, a must-stop-to-eat spot on the Bombay Poona Highway. An hour and a half into our road trip from Bombay, Dad would pull up in front of a dilapidated shack by the roadside. A waiter would saunter up to the car and rattle off an oral menu. Dad always asked "kya hai", meaning what do you have, knowing full well what we had stopped for. There really was only one choice for me. Minutes later the waiter would return with a large tray laden with greasy puffy pooris and potatoes, stained yellow with turmeric, dotted with green chilies, cilantro, curry leaves. The aroma wafting through the car was mixed in with diesel fumes and dust. The lingering smells were not really an issue. Alongside us were many other travelers eating with the same gusto. Satisfied, we would journey on knowing this treat waited for us on the return trip.

Poori Bhaji

Serves 4 to 6


2 cups whole wheat atta (flour)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Canola oil
1/2 cup Water
Oil for frying

Place the atta and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix.

While the motor is running, add water in small portions, pulsing till the dough comes together in one big round.

Remove the dough from bowl and knead for 2 minutes till it feels smooth.

Cover and keep aside for 20 minutes.

Pinch off a small ball of dough.

Dust the ball with some atta and roll into a round. Do the same with the rest of the dough. I like to roll out many pooris , cover them with a damp muslin cloth so I could fry them all at one time.

Heat oil in a kadhai or wok. The oil should cover 1/3 of the frying pan.

Test the oil by dropping in a bit of dough. If it surfaces in seconds the oil is hot enough. That's my test. I don't use (or have) an oil thermometer.

Slide in a poori and splash a little of the oil on the surface with a slotted spoon. It should puff up.

Fry for 20 seconds till the poori puffs, then turn over and fry for another 10 seconds. Fry the remaining pooris the same way.

Serve with hot potato bhaji. The recipe follows.

Potato Bhaji

5 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 tablespoons Canola oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon Hing (Asafetida)
10 Curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
2 green Chiles
1/2 cup Cilantro
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Boil, peel, and cube potatoes.

Chop the chiles in very thin slices.

Roughly chop the cilantro.

Place a saucepan on a medium flame for 10 seconds.

Add oil to hot pan and swirl to coat.

Now add in the mustard seeds, hing, and curry leaves.

The potatoes go into the pan at this point along with the turmeric, green chiles, cilantro and salt.
Mix well and sauté well so potatoes are coated with spices.

Cover the saucepan, lower the flame and simmer, stirring occasionally.

Serve with hot pooris.

Breakfast is done. Our loins are girded!!! Geets is raring to go. She tackles pots, pans, baskets and bins with relative ease! She prods us into a cleaning frenzy. It MUST be the poori bhaji that motivates her!