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Article: This Holi Meet A Cousin of Puran Poli - The Gurmai Roti

two children drenched in Holi colours reach out for a puran poli and a gurmai roti

This Holi Meet A Cousin of Puran Poli - The Gurmai Roti

‘Holi re Holi, Purnachi Poli’ - Puran Poli & Holi Go Together

Let me take you back a walk down the memory lane. It’s the early nineties. Exams have just ended for you and your friends. The days are getting longer and slightly warmer, warm enough for you to prank your friends with a water gun. The neighborhood is buzzing with the festive preparations for a bonfire on the eve of Holi. Ajoba and Ajji will be visiting soon with festive goodies and you are happily filling up buckets of balloons and your arsenal of gulaal from the weekly bazaar. Long before we knew the sophistication of formal anglicized greetings- ( Happy Holi ?) and the eco-friendliness of the herbal gulaal, Holi was a festival of family, feasting, togetherness, and unabashed mingling. The tales of good winning over evil, pure hearts, and pure minds were just as significant as the plans of applying color on your teenage crush amidst the hullabaloo of a drenched, coloured, and intoxicated crowd of adults. “Days leading up to Holi were just as significant as the festival itself.”, says Rashmi Gulhane, now an IT professional who reminisces about her early childhood celebrations. “ ‘Holi re Holi, Purnachi Poli’.. was like a reminder from the neighborhood kids to all the women folk in the neighborhood. All the ladies would bring their best-made Puran Polis and Gul Polis ( Jaggery sweetened version) to the community ground on the day of the festival and the sweet flatbread was savored by all. The Polis are a very rich stuffed flatbread, having one meant that you would be energized to frolic with your friends for the next hour or so.”

Khandeshi spices for the Gurmai Roti - A cousin of Puran Poli

Gurmai Roti - The Niece of Gul Poli and Puran Poli ( Gul Polichi Bhachi )

Some Khandeshi Maharashtrian households have a similar but less demanding version of the Puran Poli, and Gul Poli- The Gurmai Roti. As Rashmi recollects - “ Days before Holi we used to start pestering Aai to make us Puran or Gul Polis and Aai being the mother of all, would tell us…I’ll make you the better younger niece of Gul Poli - The Gurmai Roti’. It was easier to prepare because you did not have to use desiccated coconut so it saved her a lot of trouble. However, it was never a downgraded version of the Puran Poli. If anything, the Gurmai roti was a treat in itself.I used to insist Aai make it for the Holi festival too because it meant that I would not have to help her get the daal and coconut mixture ready and could enjoy the festivities with my friends.”Gurmai Roti tastes like nostalgia on the tip of your tongue. However, there is a secret spice mixture that you will have to keep stored like Rashmi’s Aai in case you are looking forward to trying this convenient recipe.

The gurmai roti masala used by chef Pratibha Shinde in her own kitchen.

The Khandeshi & Their Secret Spice

The Khandeshi section of Marathas mainly comprised of the Rajputs who migrated south during the Mughal invasion of the Rajputana territory. Gul Poli or Gurmai Roti was brought to the Maratha tables by the same section of the people. All northern states have a version of the sweet flatbread. Unlike the coastal states, the coconut tree was not native to the northern states of India at the time, sugar cane was plentiful. Thus the easily available Gur or jaggery was flavored with spices and they devised the flat bread. The Guramai Roti is a hidden gem of the Marathi cuisine. It is the better version of the Punjabi ‘Ghee Paratha with Khaand’ since the mildly spiced mixture of jaggery powder and ghee adds warmth to the taste buds. The spice blend added to the mixture is a long-kept secret of the Khandeshi cuisine. The flavor profile is sweet and warm. You get notes of dried ginger and cinnamon as a familiar hit but there are some specific spices like ‘ganthi pimpli’ ( a type of licorice), and ‘lendi pimpli’. These spices are usually found in Ayurvedic stores and are not so commonly available in their purest forms.The Gul Poli or Gurmai roti is best enjoyed during the transitional seasons of Spring, Monsoon, and Autumn and during winter. However, for many Marathi households, it is an all-season treat.

Replace Puran Poli With This Quick & Easy Gurmai Roti Recipe

To make Gurmai Roti, begin by preparing the dough, which involves combining wheat flour, salt, and ghee in a bowl and kneading it with water until it achieves a soft, chapati-like consistency. Allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing, mix jaggery powder, Gurmai roti masala, and ghee thoroughly, and shape them into small ladoos. Moving on to the roti-making process, knead the dough again and divide it into small balls. Roll out each ball into a smooth, even disc with a thicker center. Fill the disc with the prepared stuffing, seal the edges, and flatten it. Roll out the disc into a thin chapatti and cook it on a skillet until both sides are evenly roasted, spreading ghee during the cooking process. Once done, allow the Gurmai roti to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container.

Health Benefits of The Gurmai Roti

The very rare and medicinal spices that are added to the stuffing make Gurmai Roti an immunity booster and give the body a natural defense against cough and cold. Jaggery is also a healthier sugar which is also rich in iron and essential minerals. The roti is cooked in ghee, the best-known fat for an Indian diet. Overall this dish has great benefits but as it is with most things sweet, do not overdo the feasting barring the special days like Holi.

Home Kouzina’s Gurmai Roti Masala

Our efforts to bring you some of the most rare spices of India led us to Chef Pratibha Shinde. She sources the best of spices like ‘ganthi pimpli’ and ‘lendi pimpli’ from the locals of Maharashtra to preserve their healing properties and the authenticity of the recipe of the Gurmai Roti Masala. We then carefully pack and seal these masalas, untouched by hands, and bring them to your table. We hope you catch the fragrance of our spices and a hint of nostalgia when you unpack them.

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