Poori Baaji

One of the items on a 'set menu' in all Mangalorean Thindi (meaning snack in Kannada) hotels (thats how its called - hotel & not the fancy 'restaurant') is the Poori Baaji - Served for breakfast & lunch. I have tasted the best Poori Baaji in Mohini Vilas - a bungalow shaped hotel ('70's style - with spiral staircases & multi coloured mosaic flooring) in Hampankatta. Their Pooris used to be giant sized - almost like the North Indian Batura. Delicious melt-in-the-mouth Pooris with equally delicious Potato Baaji. Sadly, that place has been torn down a couple of years ago to make way for some commercial project. The good ol' charm of Mlore is quickly vanishing.

Till the time I landed in Mumbai, the word 'Bhaaji' was synomymous with the Potato Baaji served with the Pooris. Every time my maid used to speak about Roti aur Bhaaji, I would wonder why she preferred to cook the Potato Baaji everyday. Little did I know that anything that means 'vegetable dish' was called the 'Bhaaji'. If Sabzi is how they call it in other parts of India, most of Mumbai calls it the 'Bhaaji'. So I made sure to tell my maid I was making the 'Aloo ka Bhaaji' meaning Potato Baaji. You may have noticed the shift in the spellings used to describe the 'Baaji' and the 'Bhaaji'. Well, thats the whole difference. Down South, we call it the Baaji without stressing on the 'Bha!' ;-)

Poori Baaji

You Need:

For the Pooris
For the Baaji

To Make The Pooris
1. Mix the flour & salt & add a little of the water and knead to make a smooth dough. Set aside for 10-15 (but you can skip this if you are in a hurry. Keeping the dough aside helps it to bind well & increase the elasticity which helps you make softer pooris)
2. Make 9-10 small balls (size of small size limes) and flatten them with your palm
3. Use a little flour on a working surface & with a rolling pin roll out mini round shaped chapathis (to fit your palm). Dont roll them out too thin or your pooris will be too crispy (unless you like them that way). Medium thickness will do.
4. Heat oil in a wide & deep bottomed kadai/wok. Test the heat by dropping a ball of dough (the size of a matchstick head) and if it rises immediately with bubbles all around it, your oil is hot enough.
5. Keep a regular ladle handy. Insert one poori into the hot oil & immediately scoop out ladlefulls of hot oil and bathe the poori with it - this helps your poori to immediately puff up like a poori should! Otherwise your pooris may remain flat. Puffing up of pooris also depends on how hot the oil is & how you have rolled them out.
6. Turn the poori on the other side & pour some more oil on it so that the colour changes to golden.
7. Remove with a slotted ladle and place the pooris on a kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil.
8. Serve hot with Potato Baaji

To Make The Baaji
1. Boil/Pressure cook potatoes with some salt (for about 4-5 whistles). Allow to stand & when the whistle is loose, remove, transfer to cold water, peel & mash them well
2. In a wok, heat some oil (about 1 tbsp) and add the mustard seeds, when it begins to splutter, toss in the kadipatta & then the washed udad dal (ensure its drained of excess water). Stir fry. Add the green chillie & the onions & fry till onions turn translucent. Toss in the haldi powder & mix well

3. Add salt to taste & mashed potatoes & cook on slow fire for about 2 mins, stirring & mixing the masala well with the potatoes.
4. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves & serve hot with Pooris

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