Saturday, March 22, 2008
Parathas are Indian griddle or flat breads. In restaurants in North American, it's easiest to find them on the menu stuffed with potatoes (known as aloo paratha), but you can also find a flaky unstuffed version. I'll try to make a post soon showing how to stuff and roll out parathas (here's a recipe for 'em on Pakupaku with hand drawn illustrations is you're feeling industrious.), but today I'm focusing on the super flaky and flat version.
Flaky parathas are delicious, easy to make, super cheap and whole wheat--all good things. All you need is some atta flour (you can find this in an Indian grocery store), salt, cayenne pepper and canola oil. If you're out of canola, choose another oil that's not too flavorful--in a pinch you can even get away with olive oil--I've done that before, though it's not my first choice.
For 10 parathas:
1. Put about 3 cups of plain atta flour in a bowl and mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper. Add in about two teaspoons of canola oil and mix. Add just enough water (around 1 cup, but start slow, you may need more) to make a dough thats firm and has a rolling consistency. Knead for a minute, then cover with a towel and let rest 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Form the dough into ten balls. On a well floured surface, roll one ball out into a thin circle. Roll the dough as thin as possible, you should be able to get it at least 1/8" thick with a diameter about 7-8" wide.
3. In a small bowl or mug, mix a slurry of flour and oil, you want the mixture to be thick and spreadable, but it should be thin enough that it can dribble off a spoon. Start with a couple tablespoons of flour and dribble in the oil slowly as you whisk with a spoon.
4. Spread the slurry thinly on top of the paratha you've rolled out.
5. Fold the paratha in half and and spread another layer of slurry on top.
6. Fold the paratha in half again and then roll up the thin strip so it looks like a precooked cinnamon bun. Pinch the edge into the roll, and it shouldn't come undone.
7. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the roll, and press down gently from the top of the roll towards your counter to slightly flatten.
8. Roll out into another thin disk.
9. Grill over medium-low heat on a griddle that's lightly oiled. Flip over a few times to make sure it gets evenly browned. Once it's begun to cook, press down lightly with a spatula, and it'll fill with air, but will not puff up. Place on a plate and cover with a towel to keep warm while you make the rest.
10. Serve and eat with dal, chutney, aloo gobi and lemon pickle! The folding and slurry create a flatbread that's filled with flaky layers.