Tips and Tricks for Making Perfect Dhal Puri

Indian-style Lentil Flat Bread

Dhal Puri
Wikimedia Commons

Dhal Puri, like many roti recipes, takes lots of practice to perfect. Once you get the hang of it, it is very easy and simple to make.

Of the many types of roti(s, ) made in the Caribbean, Dhal Puri, and Paratha are the two roti recipes that require the most skill and art in making. The tenets of a good Dhal Puri are that it must be rolled thin, the ground lentils must be dispersed throughout the roti and that it must be soft and tender when cooked and ready for eating.

As with most things, each household has their own method and way of making Dhal Puri, here is mine.

DOUGH

  • Once the dough comes together, knead it for 3 minutes. You want a soft, pliable dough but definitely not sticky.

  • Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes so that the gluten can develop.

FILLING

  • The best peas/beans to use is the yellow split peas and not the small red lentils. The small red lentils will cook up too quickly and become mushy.

  • Soak the peas/beans overnight and in the morning, rinse it several times until the water runs clear.

  • Only salt the peas when it comes to a boil. Do not be afraid to add adequate salt as this is the only time to adequately season it with salt to taste. Adding the salt when the peas are already ground up will result in the tiny salt crystals eventually melting while the sitting in the dough. This can cause the dough to become moist and stick to the rolling pin and work surface when rolling.

  • Freshly ground cumin is best but by all means, use store-bought if you cannot help it.

  • Depending on where one is from, the other seasoning ingredients can be garlic, hot pepper, and cilantro.

  • Cook the peas until it is slightly al-dente - a little firm to the bite. It should by no means be raw.

  • Once drained, let the peas cool completely and be void of any moisture; spread them out in a single layer to cool.

  • A food processor makes quick and easy work of grinding the peas. Start my adding the chopped pepper and garlic first, followed by the cilantro and peas. The ground cumin is stirred in after transferring the ground peas to a large bowl.

STUFFING THE DHAL PURI

  • Each piece of dough should be flattened evenly. Any thickness should be in the center of the dough.

  • Do not overstuff the dough if not it will cause spillage and cause the dough to tear when rolling.

  • Secure the filling by tightly pinching the ends of the dough. Rest the dough seam-side down.

  • Let the filled dough rest for 30 minutes before cooking. This rest time helps to seam-side of the dough to securely bond.

ROLLING THE DHAL PURI

  • Flour the work surface and the rolling pin before rolling each Dhal Puri. Place the rolling pin at the center of the stuffed puri and start rolling outwards, back and forth; turn the dough at a 90-angle and roll, keep turning and rolling to form a thin circle.

  • Dhal Puri should be rolled to suit the size of the pan in or upon which it will be cooked, so it is important that your dough is cut to a suitable size.

COOKING PAN

  • You can use a tawah - traditional Indian-type cast iron pan (think of a griddle) or a regular cast iron skillet, a griddle or a heavy-bottomed pan.

    COOKING DHAL PURI

    • Heat the pan on medium-high heat.

    • Transfer the rolled dough to the heated pan and wait until it starts to puff up in various places then flip it. Brush with oil. Flip, brush with oil. Flip again and then remove from the pan.

    • If the heat is too high and you find the Duri Puri browning too quickly without cooking, then reduce the heat.

    STACKING DHAL PURI

    • Once cooked, transfer the Dhal Puri to a bowl or basket lined with a kitchen towel and a sheet of kitchen paper. Insert a piece of cut wax paper between each cooked Dhal Puri to prevent them steaming and sticking together.