Boli! Poli! Obattu! A Rose By Any Other Name…

Boli or poli or obattu or other names, depending on which part of India you call home, is a type of paratha (flat, unleavened, wheat-based bread) with sweet fillings.  We usually make them on the first day of Pongal (harvest festival), and sometimes on other holidays.  This boli is filled with lentils and jaggery.  It can be a pain in the neck to make, so adjust the recipe proportionately to make just what you need (recipe below makes about 8 to 10, with some filling left over).  It is definitely worth the work, though.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 cup cooked and mashed channa dhal

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 cup jaggery

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

Ghee (optional)



1.  Place the two flours, turmeric and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk together to distribute salt and turmeric.  Add the oil and one cup of water.  Combine by hand until the ingredients come together relatively cleanly.  Add water as needed.  Do not over-knead.  The dough should be soft and a little bit more wet than bread dough.  Cover with a wet dish cloth or several wet paper towels, set a plate over the bowl and set aside for at least an hour.

2.  While the dough is resting, place the jaggery in a medium saucepan with one or two tablespoons of water and set over low heat.  Allow the jaggery to melt.  Let the liquid jaggery thicken slightly and remove from the heat.  Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove any impurities.

3.  Return the jaggery to the saucepan over low heat.  Stir in the cooked channa dhal, shredded coconut and cardamom powder.  Keep stirring until the mixture has thickened and much of the excess liquid is gone.  A spoon should stand up straight in the mixture.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

4.  When the jaggery mixture is cool enough to handle, roll it into balls the size of golf balls.

5.  After the dough has rested, roll it into balls about one and a half times the size of of a golf ball.

6.  Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame and allow the pan to heat. Lightly dust a clean surface with all-purpose flour and keep a small pile of all-purpose flour in a plate near you.  Press both sides of a dough ball into the flour, making a small disc.

7.   Roll out the dough into a 3 or 4 inch circle.  Place a jaggery ball in the middle of the dough and fold over the edges of the dough until it covers the jaggery ball.














8.  Gently roll out the boli, dusting the surfaces with flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the rolling surface.  It’s okay if the surface breaks.  Simply dust with some extra flour.

9.  Cook the first side of the boli in the frying pan until small bubbles start to appear across the surface.  Flip it and cook the second side until it puffs up.  (It won’t always puff up like this… small puffs work too.)

10.  Remove from pan, spread a small amount of ghee on the surface and serve warm.  If you are making many at the same time, put them in a covered dish as you finish cooking them, replacing the cover between adding bolis to retain both heat and moisture.

11.  Allow to cool completely before storing in a tightly-lidded container.  These boli may be stored for up to a week.  To re-warm the boli, wrap in a wet paper towel and microwave each boli to 10 to 20 seconds, depending on your microwave power.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s