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Boli; the South Indian Dessert Recipe

Updated on August 22, 2017
radhikasree profile image

Radhika likes to try various recipes. She is on the lookout of making healthy and delicious foods which everyone would love to eat. .

Boli sweet
Boli sweet | Source

Desserts are invariably a part of a large meal in any culture. Cakes, ice-creams, pastries, pies all attract everyone with their colorful flavor and lingering taste. Boli is a South Indian dessert usually prepared during special occasions and festivals, which is taken along-with the sweet porridge, ‘payasam’.

History of Boli

I remember my mother making this dessert on the occasion of ‘Avani Avittam’. This auspicious day is meant for the gents in a household of Tamil Hindu Brahmins to do the rituals associated with their grandparents. My father used to go early in the morning to the temple for chanting the ‘mantras’ taught by the priest. Before he comes back, mom has to prepare the delicacies, ‘vadai’, ‘boli’ and ‘palpayasam’. She serves them to us remembering our grandparents. She learned preparing them from her mother-in-law who used to make several dishes. Also, boli is a dessert usually served in the marriage eves of the same community, called “Nischayathamboolam”.

Preparation of Boli is a little bit complex and time-consuming. The recipe is illustrated in detail here.

Cook Time

Prep time: 1 hour 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: 5 bolis


  • 1/2 cup split Bengal gram
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup refined flour
  • 2 tbs gingelly oil
  • a pinch food color yellow
  • 5 numbers cardamom
  • 5 tbs clarified butter or ghee
Ingredients of Boli
Ingredients of Boli | Source

Filling of Boli: gram batter(poornam)

Bengal gram needs to be soaked in water for about 5 to 6 hours. This ingredient is what gives the august taste for Boli. Drain the water afterwards and cook it in a cooker without water. This cooked content is then mixed with sugar and grinded in a mixer very well. As it is the filling of the boli ball, it should be free of any water content. Put this batter in a thick bottomed vessel or ‘kadai’ and stir well in low flame for about 5 to 10 minutes. Take it out of the stove and after adding cardamom, leave it aside to set. This is called "poornam" whose consistency is significant.

'Poornam' or filling of Boli ball
'Poornam' or filling of Boli ball | Source

Outer part: flour dough

Dough is made using refined flour or ‘maida’. Sprinkle food color into it. Just like we make Chappathi dough, refined flour has to be kneaded well in water. After ensuring that the dough has become soft, add gingelly oil and knead it again. The dough has to be so soft that it can be rolled easily by spreading the filling uniformly all over its sides. Keep it aside covered for 2 hours.

flour dough
flour dough | Source

Making the Boli ball

Make balls of both the dough and filling as shown in the figure. Then place the dough ball in a Chappathi board and gently press uniformly to form a small circle. You can do this by using a roller too. Then place the filling on the top of this circled piece and cover it by pulling up all the edges of the dough ball. The stretching nature of ‘maida’ makes this process easier. Now the boli ball is ready for rolling.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dough ball and filling ballFilling placed on the top of circular piece Filling covered by pulling up the edges of the circular pieceStretching the edges uniformly over all sides Final shape of boli ball
Dough ball and filling ball
Dough ball and filling ball | Source
Filling placed on the top of circular piece
Filling placed on the top of circular piece | Source
Filling covered by pulling up the edges of the circular piece
Filling covered by pulling up the edges of the circular piece | Source
Stretching the edges uniformly over all sides
Stretching the edges uniformly over all sides | Source
Final shape of boli ball
Final shape of boli ball | Source

Final stage of preparation

  1. Boli ball has to be rolled using the roller on the board slowly. This step has to be done with extreme care for getting the Boli in shape. As the circle flattens each time while rolling, chances are that it may stick. Sprinkling some flour over it can prevent this. The batter should be spread uniformly all over the circle as well. Roll it as much as possible to get a thin, round piece.
  2. Heat a pan on medium flame and put the circled piece on it. When the layers start rising, reverse the side. See that it doesn’t get roasted. Boli is a soft and layered dessert that has to be prepared with much care in order to reach the right stuff. When layers are seen rising from both the sides, pour a little ghee onto it, spread using a ladle and transfer to a dried plate.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Boli ball while pressingInitial stage of flattening the boli ball using a rollerIntermediate stage while rolling Final shape of boli after rollingRolled bolis ready for cookingBoli while cooking in a panBoli when layer formsFinished form of boli
Boli ball while pressing
Boli ball while pressing | Source
Initial stage of flattening the boli ball using a roller
Initial stage of flattening the boli ball using a roller | Source
Intermediate stage while rolling
Intermediate stage while rolling | Source
Final shape of boli after rolling
Final shape of boli after rolling | Source
Rolled bolis ready for cooking
Rolled bolis ready for cooking | Source
Boli while cooking in a pan
Boli while cooking in a pan | Source
Boli when layer forms
Boli when layer forms | Source
Finished form of boli
Finished form of boli | Source

The complexity and time taken for making this traditional dessert is what gives it the extraordinary shape and relish. I learned to prepare this after a long trial and error method.

Rate this recipe please!

3.8 stars from 13 ratings of Boli dessert

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Nutritional facts for Bengal gram dal

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 100 g
Calories 327
Calories from Fat36
% Daily Value *
Fat 4 g6%
Saturated fat 0 g
Unsaturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 47 g16%
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 11 g44%
Protein 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

© 2012 Radhika Sreekanth


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