37 Cupcakes: A Surplus Story

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Pining for Poori

It’s official. My kids miss their dadi.

She wears the saris in the family, normally. She makes the chutneys. She’s not a curry person, not really. But shaak, roti, puri, ragda, raita, ras mail, vada? Yes, she will make that, invite you over and pack your leftovers in a recycled yogurt (or margarine) container.

My MIL has been in India for several months, now. Hence my interest in getting cooking ASAP and starting this blog. After all the richness of Kodaikanal kuisine and the Udupi restaurants in King’s Circle, I couldn’t wait twelve weeks for more.

But my kids feel quite differently. They want bread. Plain, no shaak. Especially my skinny 8-year-old, about whom I often joke: “He’s all hair and teeth and eyelashes.” If he wants to eat something friend in oil, I call Crisco immediately.


A bhatura as big as your head.

This brings me to poori: puffy Indian flat bread. A bread can be both puffy and flat when it is first fried in hot, not boiling, oil. After a few seconds it swells, proud as a puffer-fish, from a smooth ball of whole-wheat dough into a golden ball that glistens and shimmers with tiny, raised dots. It’s a mild-tasting but richly textured bread that doesn’t need to taste like much because, really, it’s an accessory. The cook will put it on your plate when it’s still so hot that the poori stings your fingertips. Still, you eat. Over time, if you get proficient, you can tear a piece of poori with one hand and then use that same hand to scoop sautéed vegetables (probably a cauliflower, pea, potato, tomato medley) into the scrap of bread and pop it into your mouth. No questions asked, no shaak spilled, no utensils required.

The bread flattens as it cools, fading from its hot, glossy golden glow to a floppy, flat slightly greyish visage. On the outside, the poori looks not quite like itself, but still it tastes good. Just lacks some of its wheaty and chewy intensity and former good looks. This is a metaphor for nothing.


A feast fit for a raja: peanuts, poori and root beer.

My skinny guy just loves the stuff. Yet for a recipe with just 3-4 ingredients, poori can be difficult to execute successfully. Still, after a recent trip to the neighborhood Indian restaurant where poori retails for .75/each, I knew I had to try and DIY the p-o-o-r-i. Especially after my son made a meal of poori and peanuts. It was time.

In my next entry, I’ll discuss how my poori (didn’t) turn out.

In the meantime, learn from someone who knows what the heck she is doing!

Yes, I’m talking about Manjula: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3xLk13j5r0


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