The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including Gluten Free dishes.

October 23, 2020

Poornalu - A Gluten Free Festival Sweet

Yummy Poornalu!


Today is Durga Ashtami. It is celebrated with great passion and fervor, all over India and especially in West Bengal. 


Ashtami marks the eighth day of the Navratri and on this auspicious day, devotees observe rigorous fast, feast, and worship Goddess Durga who symbolizes 💪 strength. A celebration of traditional culture and customs, massive idols of Goddess Durga are installed throughout India while enormous puja pandals are set up at various places for devotees to visit and worship.

 


Poornalu (or Boorelu, as known in Telugu speaking regions) is a traditional Andhra sweet that is most commonly made for festivals like Dussehra, Varalakshmi Puja, Ugadi, etc, and also served at weddings. With the advent of milk-based sweets, the popularity of traditional sweets has dwindled in the past few years. Lately, sweets like Poornalu are making a comeback along with the interest in traditional culture habits.

This Poornalu recipe was passed down to my mom from her mother who learned to make it from her mother-in-law. I love learning about these dishes because it is a way for me to learn about culture and family history. This year has been especially difficult because my maternal grandmother passed away at the end of March. She used to visit us during the festival season and shared stories about the festivals and the food. She was a vivacious spirit. 

Below is the recipe for this sweet. Hope you like it as much as I do. 


Ingredients for the lentil filling
- 1 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
- 1 cup grated jaggery 
- 10 to 12 cardamom pods, seeded and (powdered with a pinch of sugar)


Ingredients for the dough
- 3/4 cup urad dal (husked black gram dal), soaked for 5-6 hours or overnight and ground to a thick fine paste
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of baking soda

Ingredients for frying
- 3 cups of vegetable oil

Procedure
1) Pressure cook channa dal with plenty of water until dal is soft but not soupy. Using a colander, drain the excess water. Transfer the dal into a flat container and mash well until it is in paste consistency.

2) Add the jaggery and cardamom to the dal paste into a non-stick pan and keep mixing under low heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes together (approx. 10 minutes) without sticking to the walls. Transfer it into a container and cool it for 15-20 minutes. 

3) Grease a plate with 1/2 tsp of oil and make lime size balls of the lentil mixture and arrange them on the plate without touching each other. 



4) Mix the rice flour, salt, and baking soda into the ground urad dal paste and add water as needed to loosen it to a pancake batter consistency. 


5) Heat oil in the frying pan on medium heat, when heat it felt to your palm placed safely at a distance above the oil, drop a small amount of dough into the oil. If the dough rises up to the surface of the oil quickly, the oil is ready for frying. 





6) Take a lentil ball and dip in the coating dough well to cover all over and gently drop it into the oil. Continue this step with an additional 3-4 balls coated and gently dropped into the oil. After a couple of minutes when the oil bubbles subside on the Purnalu, turn them over and continue to fry them to golden brown color. Using a slotted ladle, collect them from the oil, and let the oil drain further by placing them into a strainer. In a couple of minutes, transfer them onto a flat serving dish. Continue these frying steps with remaining lentil balls. 


7) Serve them hot to experience the crunchy coating. 




Quick Tips
- Brown sugar can be substituted for jaggery; if jaggery is not readily available. Keep in mind, it will have a slightly different taste. Adjust the brown sugar as per your taste. 
- Store-bought dosa dough can be used instead of making your own coating batter. 
- Cold Purnalu can be reheated in the toaster oven for a better taste; just dab the oozed-out oil after heating. 
- Dry coconut can be substituted if fresh coconut is not available. 

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