Dhol-Puri is a typical homemade specialty from Mauritius. It’s similar to Farata.
Dhol (pronouced "Dhal") is -not- weird spelling for a toy, but rather an Indian name given to a particular kind of vegetable: yellow split peas.
It’s also a generic name for other types of vegetables such as Mung Dhol (mung beans), and lima beans. Due to its high concentration of vegetable protein, the Dhol plays an important role in Indo-mauritian food.
Puri broadly means "bread". Same as Dhol, it has various uses and meanings, such as Ti-Puri (tick fried pancake) or Chana-Puri (doughnut stuffed with dhol cumin paste).
To better understand the cooking process, we met with M. Sudesh DEWA, executive of DEWA & SONS, the Dhol-Puri institution in Mauritius for the last 40 years.
There are lots of Dhol-Puri sellers, but there’s a common saying amongst the elderly that the DEWA family are the dish original creators. One thing is for sure, the DEWA are the first to ever sell Dhol-Puri and are well known for it.
The company started as a family business, but quickly expanded into the bigger and impressive business it is today : 4 stores, 40 employees, daily exports to Rodrigues.
We were lucky enough to visit the Rose-Hill based production facility, supplying the stores with nearly ten thousand dhol-puri a day.
The whole process starts with dough (made of soft white wheat flour mixed with some water, (close to 65% hydration) and oil.
The high protein wheat flours give the well-rested dough a soft and extensible texture, making it easier to work with.
The Dhol is crushed and boiled, used as a stuffing for the dough.
The feat then is to slice -but not open- the dough, to avoid stuffing waste.
When I say feat, I mean it! I tried a bit of slicing and can testify to the difficulty of the task. One needs dexterity, experience...and this particular kind of flour !
The dhol paste creates a thin, moist, and deliciously crisp (think puff pastry) layer when cooked. Are you salivating yet ?
The pancakes are ready to be baked on the Tawa (a very hot greased up pane).
as well as on this coal heated cooking conveyor belt, allowing consistent cooking.
In the end, the mouth watering baked Dhol-Puris are stacked inside boxes, where they remain hot for hours.
A vast majority will be shipped immediatly to be sold in the different stores, the remaining boxes being sold directly at the facility as take-away or to the gourmands who want to enjoy the facility’s shop’s terrace.
The Dhol-Puri used to be sold only by pair, due to its brittleness. Although, with today’s baking methods and the slightly extensible dough, brittleness disappeared,
habits last. Dhol-Puris are, to this day, sold by pair.
Faratas and other doughnuts now also account for 20% of the company’s sales. A fair diversification, considering the number of non DEWA Dhol-Puri sellers.
Contrary to those vendors though, the DEWA also sell their Faratas by pair, to uphold the tradition.
Faratasand Dhol-Puris are both sold covered with two vegetables Caries (sauce or stew), and potentially with a spicy sauce called Chatini (borrowing of the word "Chutney")
Caries and Chatini are cooked before dawn.
Dhol-Puri is in fact a vegetable dish (therefore suiting a good portion of the Mauritius inhabitants), valued for its taste and its good nutritional intake (cereals and vegetables), insomuch as this copious meal costs an affordable 20Rs (less than 0,5 €).
A big thanks to Sudesh DEWA for the warm welcome in his facility.