Dholl puri are lovely nutritious flatbreads with a thin filling of ground split peas. Cooked until soft and still wrappable, they are the classic accompaniment to this butterbean curry. On the streets of Mauritius they are the number-one street food, and quite right too. Delicious, vegetarian and healthy – what’s not to love?
Place the chana dal and half the turmeric in a saucepan and cover well with cold water. Set over a medium-high heat, bring to the boil and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. The chana dal need to be soft enough to squash between finger and thumb but not so soft that they collapse, so start testing after about 25 minutes. Drain well and spread out on a large plate or tray, and leave to steam dry until cool. Once cool, add to a food processor and grind to a crumbly powder. Add a pinch of salt and pulse to mix. Set aside.
For the Mauritian curry powder, place the coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek and chilli flakes in a small dry frying pan and set over a medium heat. Toast for a minute or two until fragrant then tip into a pestle and mortar or spice mill. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric and grind to a powder. Set aside.
For the curry, place the oil and onions in a large saucepan and set over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until starting to soften and lightly caramelise. Add the garlic and ginger, followed by the Mauritian curry powder, and stir well to mix. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes and stir frying for a further 10 minutes. Pour in 500ml water, tuck in the thyme and season with a little salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer steadily for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and stir through the butterbeans, then simmer for another 10 minutes until thick and rich. Squeeze in the lemon juice, and taste to check seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or lemon juice if you like. Keep warm while you make the dholl puri .
To make the dough, tip the flour into a large bowl and add the turmeric and salt, mixing together. Add the oil and 300ml water, stirring to form a dough. Tip on to a lightly floured worktop and knead for 5 minutes, adding a little shake more flour if it seems to be too sticky. Set aside in a bowl to rest for 5 minutes.
Lightly flour the worktop and have the ground chana dal and a dessertspoon handy. Tip the dough on to the floured surface and chop it into 8 even-sized pieces, rolling each into a ball as you go. Take one ball and cup it in the palm of one hand. Take the other hand and, using thumb and forefinger, push a hole in the centre and pinch outwards to form a palm-sized bowl (just like making a pinch pot with clay).
Take a generous dessertspoon of chana dal and use it to fill the hole in the dough. Pinch the edges over the top to close and roll gently between your palms so you have a smooth round ball. Place on a well-floured baking tray, seam side down, and repeat with the remaining 7 pieces of dough. Reserve any leftover chana dal for garnish.
When you are ready to eat, take a large flat frying pan and set over a medium-high heat to warm up. Meanwhile, lightly oil the worktop and roll out one of the balls of dough until you have a round disc about 5mm thick, turning through a quarter turn after each roll to keep it circular. Carefully place in the hot pan and cook for a minute on each side before transferring to a clean plate. While it’s cooking, roll out the second dholl puri and have it ready to go in the pan as soon as the first one is out. Repeat the rolling and cooking process until they are all cooked.
Scatter the coriander and reserved chana dal over the butterbean curry and serve with the warm dholl puri , tearing them into pieces to scoop up the curry.