Puri with potato curry.

1 Mar

Today I was privileged to be invited for breakfast at our friends house. Monica had promised me a special Asian breakfast and a one to one lesson on how to cook puris. Puri is my favourite starter when I go to an Indian Restaurant, usually topped with either prawn or chicken curry. In India, I’m told, puri is a favourite breakfast food, usually served on special occasions or for a treat maybe at the weekend. The whole experience was amazing!

One of the puri ingredients was a spice called Ajwain. I have so many herbs and spices but I had never heard of this.

Ajwain, also known as ajowan caraway, thymol seeds, bishop’s weed, or carom, is an herb in the family Apiaceae. Both the leaves and the seedlike fruit (often mistakenly called seeds) of the plant can be used.

Ajwain’s small, oval-shaped, seed-like fruits are pale brown schizocarps, which resemble the seeds of other plants in the family Apiaceae such as caraway, cumin and fennel. They have a bitter and pungent taste, with a flavor similar to anise and oregano. They smell almost exactly like thyme because they also contain thymol, but they are more aromatic and less subtle in taste, as well as being somewhat bitter and pungent. Even a small number of fruits tends to dominate the flavor of a dish so need to be used sparingly. Only a small amount was used in this recipe but the subtle flavour still came through and really enhanced the end product. If you can’t get these seeds Monica says you can substitute with a small quantity of fenugreek leaves, crushed between your hands.

Here is the recipe. (Monica used intuition rather than measurements but hopefully I’ve judged correctly).

  • Puri ingredients
  • 500g Chapati flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ajwain seeds or fenugreek leaves
  • A drizzle of oil
  • Water
  • Put flour and salt into a large bowl.
  • Rub the Ajwain or fenugreek between your hands and add to flour.
  • Drizzle with the oil
  • Loosely mix together.
  • Start adding the water, scrunching everything together with one hand, until it forms a dough. The dough needs to be hard not soft or wet.
  • Break of pieces of dough and make into balls.
  • Lightly oil each ball on both sides to prevent sticking and roll out into round discs about 3 inches in diameter and the thickness of a pound coin.
  • Heat up some oil in a pan. When hot enough to deep fry carefully drop in one puri at a time. Allow it to rise to the top of the oil and puff up. Turn over. When lightly coloured remove and drain on kitchen paper. Continue until all are cooked, keeping them covered to keep warm. Serve with the Aloo bhaji and chutneys of your choice.
  • Aloo Bhaji ingredients
  • 2tbsp oil
  • 3 large potatoes, diced about 1/2 pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, puréed and sieved to remove seeds
  • 1 fresh green chilli roughly chopped
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Heat the oil and cook cumin seeds until they start to splutter. Be careful not to let them burn.
  • Add the sieved tomato purée and all the powdered spices.
  • Simmer until the oil separates and the tomatoes are cooked well.
  • Add the potatoes and coat well in tomato mix and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add enough water to just cover the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are soft and mushy. Add a little more water if it looks as though it’s getting too dry.
  • Add the chopped coriander, simmer for a couple of minutes. Check seasoning(to taste) and it’s ready to serve.
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