Thursday, June 10, 2010

Theme : Paratha, Variations : Infinite

10 Paratha families

1.: Common Paratha Take a tomato sized ball of whole wheat flour dough ( see sidebar). Roll into a large circle, Brush surface with oil or ghee. Fold in half so that you have a semi circle. Brush surface with oil / ghee and fold in half to get a rough triangle. Roll gently to into a thick triangle. Cook both sides on a hot skillet ( tava) till brown spots appear all over.

Theme : Any edible dough can be layered or stuffed, rolled into a thick sheet and cooked into a Paratha.

Variations: Infinite combinations exist using a variety of stuffing, flavouring, flours and cooking techniques.

This cookbook lists major families most parathas belong to. The next few pages explore different stuffings, flours and flavouring

Parathas are layered, unleavened flatbreads. They are usually accompanied by butter, yogurt, raitas, pickles, curries or just tea. Originating from Punjab, parathas traveled with Indian traders and workers across the world, becoming Roti prata in Singapore, Roti canai in Malaysia, Farata in Mauritius, Palata in Burma and Bussup shut ( Bust up shirt - what a flaky, crumbly paratha resembles) in Trinidad.

Western cuisines use leavening to make thick breads. Indian cuisine evolved the unique technique of making thick unleavened breads edible by stuffing or layering them. This key breakthrough led to creation of a delicious range of parathas. Parathas can be thick or thin, small or large, round, square or triangular, stuffed or plain. They are normally cooked on a skillet (tava), but can also be baked in a tandoor. Some can even be deep fried. Most north Indian parathas are made from whole wheat flour (atta). The south Indian version, called parota is made from maida (refined wheat flour).

Essential skills :

Kneading: Take a cup of flour, four pinches of salt and half a cup of water. Mix in water very gradually with the flour using your fingertips. Once the flour starts holding together, start kneading and knead well till you get a non-sticky dough. Adjust the amount of flour / water as needed.

Stuffing: Pinch off a tomato sized ball of dough and roll out into a disc. Place a lemon sized ball of stuffing in the center. Gather the edges of the dough together, enclosing the stuffing. Flatten with palm and roll gently into a thick disc.

Rolling out: Flatten the ball of stuffed dough by hand. Roll gently into a disc, dusting with flour if it is sticky. Do not worry about the shape as long you get a sheet of uniform thickness.

Cooking: Heat a skillet over medium flame. Add half a spoon of ghee. Place the rolled dough sheet on the skillet and cook both sides till brown spots appear all over.

Shopping List: Atta, Maida - 1 kg
Oil/ Ghee - 500 ml, Egg - 4 nos

Salt/ pepper / garam masala/ chili flakes /chili powder/ cumin, Onion, tomato, ginger garlic paste, green chilies - 100 gms

Paneer / potatoes - 250 gms

2.: South Indian Parota Take a tomato sized ball of maida dough ( all purpose flour). Roll into a large circle, Smear liberally with oil and cut up the sheet with a pizza cutter into 10-12 pieces. Stack the pieces over one another. Flatten with hand and roll gently into a thick round. Cook both sides on a hot skillet generously drizzling with oil / ghee. Before serving, place the edges of your hands on either side of the paratha. Bring them sharply together, crushing the paratha. This separates it into layers. The traditional way to make this takes years of practice. The dough is stretched wafer thin by deft flicks of the wrist, as large as a newspaper sheet, rolled up like a Swiss roll, patted into a thick round and cooked.

3.: Muglai Paratha Roll out a common paratha ( see recipe #1) Cook one side on a hot skillet.. Beat an egg with two pinches each of salt and pepper. Flip the paratha and spread a spoon of beaten egg all over the cooked side. Repeat for the other side. Cook till the egg sets, flipping again if needed.

4.: Deep fried Parota Roll out a South Indian paratha ( see recipe #2) Heat 500 ml oil till it starts to smoke. Reduce flame to medium and slide in the dough sheet. Deep fry both sides till golden.

5.: Lachcha Paratha The traditional method takes practice to master. Instead, take a tomato sized ball of atta dough. Roll out and cook it using the technique described in recipe # 2.

6.: Tandoori Paratha Roll out a common paratha ( see recipe #1) . Line the tray of an electric Tandoor with silver foil. Place the dough sheet in the tray and cook for 2-4 minutes till it is done.

7.: Flavoured Paratha Take a tomato sized ball of atta dough. Roll out a common paratha ( see recipe #1). Sprinkle chopped mint leaves /chopped fenugreek leaves / cumin seeds / red chili flakes / crushed black pepper. Pat them so that they stick to the surface. Cook both sides on a hot skillet till done.

8.: Stuffed Paratha Take a handful of grated paneer or boiled and mashed potatoes. Mix in two pinches each of salt, chili powder and garam masala. Shape into tight lemon sized balls. Take a lemon sized ball of atta / maida dough. Roll into a disc. Place the ball of stuffing in the center. Gather the edges together to enclose the stuffing. Press with hand to flatten and roll gently into a thin disc. Cook both sides on a hot skillet, drizziling with ghee / oil. Anything edible, that can be shaped into a ball can be used as a stuffing.

9.: Unlayered Paratha While making a stuffed paratha, if the stuffing leaks or if the paratha sticks to the surface while rolling out, do not despair ! Just scoop the mess, shape again into a ball, dust with flour and roll / pat into a thick round. Cook both sides on a hot skillet, drizzling with ghee / oil. These blur the line between parathas and rotis, since they are not layered. In some versions, grated bottle gourd, or other stuffings are kneaded while making the dough.

10.: Kothu Parota Chop two south Indian parotas into tiny bits. Heat two spoons of oil. Add half a handful of chopped onion. Stir and cook for a minute. Add a chopped green chili, a chopped tomato, half a spoon of ginger garlic paste and two pinches of salt. Stir and cook for two minutes. Add the chopped parota. Stir and cook on high heat for two minutes & serve. Numerous versions are much loved in Tamilnadu. In Muttai Parota , an egg is cracked in before mixing in the chopped parota. In chicken or mutton kothu parota, chicken / mutton mince is cooked in the masala before adding in the chopped parota.

1 comment:

Anitha said...

Thanks for taking time for us again!

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