Have you heard of the Bengali dish called Mugsamli? The traditional Mugsamli is for those who love sweets with a touch of savoury and spice! Mugsamli, Mugshamli or Mugsamuli is one of those dishes that is made during Poush Sankranti or Makar Sankranti. It is essentially a fried dumpling that has a sweet filling of coconut and date palm jaggery (Nolen Gur). The size of the Mugsamli should be made small enough to handle, as these are brittle. So, according to what I learnt, the ideal size of Mugsamli should not exceed one inch. The outer covering is made with toasted Moong dal and rice powder, and is rather savoury. In fact, seasoned cooks in olden days used to add cumin seeds and black pepper powder to the moong dough for added flavour.
During this time of the year, we celebrate the harvest season. Pongal, Sankranth or Sankranti, Bihu, Uttarayana, Bhogi, Lohri, etc., are celebrated in different parts of India during this time, and food obviously plays a major role here. We Bengalis celebrate Makar Sankranti or Poush Sankranti on 14th/15th January every year, and good food in terms of Pithe, Puli and Paayesh keeps on churning out from the Bengali kitchens for almost a month!
This is that time of the year when I make the following sweet dishes for sure, in addition to Paayesh:
As with any Puli, you must be very careful to seal the dumpling properly, otherwise the Puli will disintegrate while frying. Also, shallow-frying works better for Mugsamli, rather than deep-frying. Shallow-frying ensures that the delicate Mugsamli comes out neatly fried, with its shape intact. Another point while making Mugsamli is that since the dough is brittle, you need to oil your palms before making a small flatbread each time. Don’t use a rolling pin to roll out the cover of the Mugsamli. Hands are the best!
Mugsamli or Bhaja Muger Puli (Fried Bengali Dumplings with Toasted Moong Pulses)
- Moong Daal I used unpolished Shonamuger daal, which has tiny grains: 400 g
- Rice powder: 150 g
- Refined flour: 100 g
- Cumin seeds: ¾ tsp
- Black pepper powder: 1.5 tbsp
- Salt: ¾ tsp
- For the stuffing:
- Freshly grated coconut: 2 cups
- Grated Nolen Gur aromatic date palm jaggery: 1 cup
- Khoya grated: 1 cup
- A mixture of Ghee and oil for deep-frying.
- Jhola gur liquid jaggery as an accompaniment.
- Toast the pulses till golden brown and aromatic. Now wash the daal three times and soak for 30 min.
- Discard the water and wash the pulses once again. Add the pulses to boiling water in which salt has been added. The water should be just enough to submerge the pulses. Slow-cook until the water is almost evaporated out and the pulses and cooked through. Let it cool at room temperature.
- While still warm, mash the pulses and mix-in the rice powder, refined flour, cumin seeds and black pepper powder. Make a smooth dough. If the dough feels too dry, add little water.
- Oil your palms generously and make ping-pong-sized balls out of the dough. Cover and keep aside.
- Side-by-side, make the stuffing by cooking together the coconut, jaggery and Khoya. Let it cook until it looks semi-wet: almost on the dry side.
- Switch off the flame and let the stuffing cool down at room temperature.
- Oil your hands again. Flatten one ping-pong-ball-shaped dough in your palms. Add a teaspoonful of the coconut mixture at the centre.
- Enclose the stuffing by giving the dough a traditional Bengali “Puli” shape. Ensure that there are no cracks.
- You have to oil your hands each time you make these Mugsamli pulis.
- Shallow-fry in a pan until golden brown on both sides. Be careful and gentle while flipping. I use two tablespoons for the same.
- Remove the Mugsamlis on an absorbent paper.
- Drizzle liquid jaggery or Jhola Gur generously. Otherwise, soak in warn sugar syrup (1: 1 ratio) for 10 min.