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Monday, September 6, 2010

Puran/ Sweet Yellow Lentils Recipe

"Puran" is a sweet puree made from yellow lentils/chana daal. This is generally made as an offering to God for a lot of traditional ceremonies. It falls  into the delicacy category for sure and is not a frequently made dish. The puran is used as the stuffing for "puran poli".  My mom made it on festival days and it was served in small quantities with the main course and always left us wanting more. Sometimes she used to make puran polis. I had never made it earlier always opting for something simpler to cook instead. Puran and well as puran poli are always talked about as being difficult recipes to execute, requiring precision and cooking expertise. I finally decided to take the plunge and try my hand at the recipes last week and I was so happy with the end result. In conclusion, after my puran and puran poli making experience, I must say that if you take precise ratios and follow the directions, the process is not so difficult and the result absolutely delicious.


Ingredients
1 cup chana daal (yellow lentils)
2 cups water
1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 cup +1 tbsp jaggery (crushed or powdered)
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated)


Method
Cook the chana daal with the water till the daal is cooked completely. The daal should be soft enough so that its easily crushed between your fingers. I generally pressure cook daals since the cooking time is significantly reduced in a pressure cooker. Drain all the water from the daal. Reserve this water to make the "Katachi aamti". It is very important that water is not left behind in the daal,and it should be dried as much as possible. While still hot, process the daal so that its completely mashed. You can use a food mill (also called "puran yantra") or your blender. To this add the sugar, jaggery, cardamom and nutmeg and cook the mixture on low heat. It is necessary to keep the heat low, so that the mixture cooks through together and one area doesn't get dried out. The sugar and jaggery will melt and the mixture will turn slightly liquidy. Cook it till the mixture thickens. See the tips below for how long to cook this mixture depending on its use. Serve it with ghee.


Tips
If you do not have a food mill or a blender, you can strain the daal through a sieve. Its of course easier if its a bigger sized sieve, but this will guarentee that there aren't any pieces of whole daal in the puran. The daal should be completely mashed if you want to use it to make the "puran poli'. If you just wish you eat it as a sweet dish, you can leave some daal semi-mashed, providing some texture to the puran. If you want to make puran poli, you do not want to cook the puran to an extent that its absolutely dry and will not come together, you want to cook it just enough, so that you can use it as a stuffing and the puran comes together in a ball and is soft enough to be rolled out. A trick to determine this consistency is to stand your spoon in the puran while cooking, and if it doesn't fall over, its ready to be taken off the heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools down. If you wish to cook the puran just as a sweet dish, then you need to cook the mixture at least till the jaggery and sugar melt completely and it all comes together. The texture can be as dry or wet as you want.

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