A roly-poli affair
Tuck into puran polis at a Panvel eatery that serves it not like Maharashtrians, but in a Kannadiga style
The very mention of puran poli conjures up the delicious, but predictable, mental image of a wheat flour-based flatbread stuffed with a cardamom-flavoured jaggery-lentil stuffing. Imagine, then, our surprise when we learned of Holige House, a New Panvel-based eatery that specialises in puran polis and dishes out as many as five variants. Our curiosity piqued, we braved the hour-long drive and arrived at the tiny, no-frills destination, which would have been quite easy to miss if we didn’t know exactly where to look.
The eatery was empty when we walked in, early in the afternoon. We’d invited mid-day reader Reetu Uday Kugaji to test how the polis fared in terms of authenticity and flavour. The entire set-up is quite simple — one section of the establishment comprises an open kitchen where you can watch your puran polis being rolled out, and the other has a multi-purpose chaat counter for vada pav, pakoda, toast sandwiches and other quick snacks. In front of the open kitchen, which is as utilitarian as the rest of the eatery, are a handful of steel tables where you can stand and eat. But it was the puran polis we’d come for and we quickly placed an order for all five variants. The eatery is managed by Kinnary Nensee, who personally rolled out our polis. Fortunately, our wait was short and before we knew it, we were served with five, piping hot plates.
We were informed that unlike Maharashtrian or Gujarati polis, the holiges (as they are known in Karnataka) are prepared the authentic Kannadiga way, with semolina instead of wheat flour. This helps to keep the polis soft for days after they are prepared. For the nutritionally inclined, this swap also ups the fibre content of the polis and offers a more ‘guilt-free’ indulgence. While the brightly coloured signs on the walls advise that the best way to eat a holige is with ghee, there was unfortunately none smeared on our holiges — again, this is to add to the longevity of the polis.
The dates variant ('45) was the first to arrive. It proved to be one of our favourites — the dates-only filling was light and not sweet. Next up was the coconut variant ('45), which had a moist, delicately-flavoured filling. The sesame poli ('45) is best eaten slightly cold — the flavour of the filling intensifies as the poli cools down, much like til gud. The peanut poli ('45) was slightly crunchy, but not very memorable, and the one we least enjoyed. The grand finale was the dal holige ('40), which is the closest to the polis we are familiar with. It is a safe bet for the less adventurous. Holige House makes these with chana daal instead of the usual tuvar. The latter, we are told, tends to dry the polis out.
Dates puran poli
While holiges are traditionally eaten with katachi amti (a thin dal preparation, '10), this accompaniment was sold out by the time we got there. We also ordered a savoury cheese vada pav ('25), which was spicy, generic and definitely not one of the eatery’s strengths.
As the eatery promises, the polis are delectably soft and light-as-air. You can easily wolf down two without feeling overwhelmed. It also helps that there is no white sugar used in the recipes (only jaggery) and the polis are wafer-thin. To test Holige House’s claim of the polis retaining their flavour for days after their preparation, we packed a few to take home. To our delight, they were as delicious cold and revived quite successfully with just 15 seconds in the microwave.
Reetu Uday Kugaji
Having said that, all this goodness cannot be savoured in the comfort of a sit-down eatery. Waiting for the polis in the midday sun can be quite vexing. Still, we’d recommend you make the trek to New Panvel or, at the very least, halt at Holige House on your next road trip out of town if only to experience a pocket-friendly taste of Kannadiga-style holiges in Mumbai.
At Holige House, Shop number 5/6, Mangalmurti Towers, Plot 3, Sector 11, Khanda Colony, Panvel.
Time 8 am to 8 pm
Call 8104952409 (for bulk orders)
4/4 Exceptional, 3/4 Excellent, 2/4 very Good, 1/4 Good, 0.5/4 Average. Holige House didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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