Pathir Peni | Layered fried Badam pooris

Thursdays are unlucky for me. It is too much of a coincidence really to have the “sweet-talk” with your boss every thursday. I can recall quite clearly lots of bad days and all of them being Thursdays. Now that I have discovered this striking pattern in my stars, I am dreading Thursdays. Today was bad too. I won’t get into the embarrassing details of it but suffice to say that I’d be lucky if I am not made the peon in the upcoming appraisal.

I am not going to say this Pathir Peni made me feel better and that Pathir Peni is what you need when you are depressed although I am quite tempted to do that in typical blogger fashion. I made Pathir Peni a couple of weeks back because I had a big box full of almonds that were fast approaching the rancid state and I wanted to put them to good use and also because I was itching for an elaborate, fussy challenge.

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Be warned: Pathir Peni is not a quick sweet to make, neither is it easy. But it’s not complicated. Now I don’t know what it is. Ok, if you’re patient and willing to spend the time doing each step perfectly without taking shortcuts then Pathir Peni is not a big deal really. Not that I’ve mastered it. But my Pathir Peni was crisp, flaky and just sweet enough and those are the things I am looking for in a Pathir Peni.
Pathir Peni is one of those status symbol sweets. If Pathir Peni is served at a wedding, it usually means the family is well off, has good taste and can flaunt it. Same for Nool Peni. Atleast this was how it was in the grand old days. Pathir Peni is making a comeback these days and I’ve now had them more than a couple of times at weddings and other smallish functions recently but in the nouveau wedding banquet fashion of a hundred items served in indistinguishable micro-mini portions, with air hostess style wedding hostesses to open up your little mineral water bottles (I really appreciate this gesture though; I have a tough time usually opening up the bottle mid-way through a meal with Yuvi perched on my lap). The dried little Pathir Peni served in these occasions in styrofoam cups topped with diluted milk is no match for the real thing. If you want the real thing, make these at home.

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I got greedy and made a massive batch of Pathir Peni spending an entire evening rolling, layering, and again rolling, and then frying and dunking. Please halve the recipe if you’re not making for a crowd.
Prep time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 30 mins
Makes: 40 Pathir Peni discs

Ingredients – Poori

Almonds – 1-1/2 cups, blanched peeled and ground to a paste
Maida/All purpose flour – 2-1/2 to 3 cups
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Ghee/Oil – for deep frying

Ingredients – Pathir

Ghee – 1/4 cup + 4 tbsp
Rice flour – 3-4 tbsp (adjust)

Ingredients – Sugar syrup

Sugar – 2 cups
Water – ¾ cup
Whole Green Cardamom – 3

  1. Soak almonds in warm water for 1-2 hours. Drain the water and peel the almonds. You can do this easily by pinching the skin at one end of the almond and it should peel away in one go. Grind the blanch almonds adding a little water to help along. Add water in small increments and only as much as is required. Grind the almonds to a fine paste. Transfer the almond paste to a large bowl.
  2. Add baking powder and 2 tbsp ghee to maida and mix well.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the almond paste little at a time and mix to form a dough. Add only as much flour as is required to make a firm dough like the dough we make for pooris. If you had added too much water while grinding the almonds, you might need more flour at this point. I needed a little over 2-1/2 cups of flour. Knead really well. Cover and set aside the dough while you prepare the “Padhir”.
  4. Melt ghee and transfer to a small bowl. Add the rice flour 1 teaspoon at a time to the melted ghee and whisk well. Keep adding the rest of the rice flour in small increments while whisking till it is a frothy paste. Set aside.
  5.  Bring out your rolling pin. Flour your rolling surface to avoid dough sticking to it. I found that my dough did not stick at all because of the ghee and all that kneading. Pinch a large lemon sized ball of the dough and roll out into a thin disc, as thin as possible. Transfer the rolled out disc to a large plate. Roll out 2 more such discs.
  6. Now layer the discs spreading the “Padhir” in between. Place a disc on the rolling surface. Spread a thin layer of padhir (about ¾ tsp) on the disc. Place a second dough layer on top and press gently to sandwich the layers. Spread another thin layer of padhir and lace the third layer of dough and press again to seal the three layers.
  7. Use a sharp bladed knife and cut the three layered disc into vertical strips of about 1 inch width each. Roll each vertical strip like you would a carpet to make a roundel pressing the edge gently to seal it close and prevent the roundel from unravelling. Set aside. Repeat making roundels with the rest of the strips. Place the roundels in a large bowl and keep covered with a plate to prevent from drying out.
  8. Repeat making padhir sandwiched dough layers, cutting into vertical strips and then rolling them up with the rest of the dough. 
  9. Flatten each roundel slightly and then roll out into a small disc of medium thickness the size of our regular pooris. Repeat making pooris with the rest of the roundels.
  10. Heat oil or ghee or a combination of both for deep frying the pooris. When hot, reduce heat to medium low and slide in a poori. Flip halfway through and fry till the pooris turn light golden on both sides. Remove onto absorbent paper. Fry all pooris in the same manner. Keep heat medium throughout for crispy, flaky pooris.
  11. Prepare sugar syrup. Add sugar to a pan and just sufficient water to immerse the sugar. Heat the pan. Wait for the sugar to dissolve and then get sticky. When it is about 1 string consistency (take a tiny dab of the syrup between your index finger and thumb and gently pull apart your fingers, the syrup should stretch out in a thin string), switch off.
  12. Use tongs to dip each fried poori quickly into the hot sugar syrup, tap off excess syrup and pile on a plate. Don’t let pooris soak in the syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature. Let the sugar syrup soaked pooris cool down completely before storing them in airtight containers.
  1. There are multiple versions of the Pathir Peni recipe. Some use maida and fine semolina (sooji), some use just maida like the one here and some use just semolina. I used the recipe from the legendary Meenakshi Ammal’s book “Samaithu Paaru”. You could try the other variants but in small batches to make sure they work.
  2. I dunked these in sugar syrup and called that done. Instead you could dust these with powdered sugar or top them with sweetened slightly thickened milk even.
  3. I fried them in oil as I thought frying in Ghee might be overkill. You could try frying in ghee only or a combination of ghee and oil.
  4. These are best eaten the day they are made or within 2-3 days. I suppose you could keep them longer but they’re no longer as crisp and flaky.
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