Project Poori

I feel you. We’ve talked enough about grandads and graveyards, obituaries and incense for this, the shortest month of the year. Moving on…

…it’s time to resume conversation about something(s) I don’t know much about: Indian cooking.

A couple weeks ago we tried to make poori. A staple bread of Indian cuisine across the continent, so far as I can tell. I’ve only been to four states. It has three ingredients. My MIL can make it blindfolded standing on one foot while drinking a large bottle of white wine. That’s now the only way she makes it. “So how can this go wrong?” I ask myself as I flip open a jug minibar-sized bottle of chardonnay.

I found this recipe: 

Clearly & simply written, three ingredients only, elegantly photographed, I thought things might go well. And, well, they did go. In the trash.

  • There are four ingredients, not three. The poori must be fried in oil of a certain depth. Because no one (recipe, I’m talking to you!) told me I needed oil, I didn’t make any arrangements to have cooking oil on hand. I scrambled to assemble a pool of oil that would make this recipe come out right. I ended up with something like three tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of canola oil. So, right there I pretty much knew it was over.
  • Too many hands. I had not enough oil and too many helpers. I had an eight year old and a six year old in the kitchen. They had to help. Since I already had flubbed on the oil, there was nothing to lose in welcoming them to the bread board.
  • Anticipation. It heightened the tension in the kitchen as my kids took turns rolling the dough across the lightly floured board. Image
  • Argumentation. It dissolved our trust in the process and in each other. Step Six is wide open for interpretation, demanding that we roll out the balls into “thin-medium” thickness. “Mom!” Said one pair of hands. “Thin medium is like this” – and she held up a poori pattie that had sprouted a hole in the middle. “It’s poori, not a donut!” chided the other pair of hands. This continued, but as long as they kept their hands clean and away from the hot oil, I silently endured. Image
  • Impatience. I don’t know what went wrong first, or at what point things went the most wrong: oil type, depth, temperature, were the patties medium thin, not medium thick? When we placed them in the oil they just. got. oily. That’s all that happened. One poori, our fifth or sixth, puffed up on one side. We held our breaths, waiting for the full disc of dough to rise. It did not. It was a small puff, but a big moment. I’m building on that for our next poori project.Image


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