Friday, January 11, 2013

1st New Year Kitchen Adventure: Making Parathas with Mom

Porottas/Paratha/Roti Parata/Roti Cannai, whatever name you choose to call them, are delicious. A South Asian bread with rich, flaky layers of buttery goodness. Y-U-M! Growing up, this was one of my favorite treats.

So much so that I knew the paratha-making time table of all the neighborhood cooks. One lady made paratthas as a Friday evening treat, another served them precisely at 5 p.m. every evening with tea to her son, while my mom reserved parathas for Saturday morning breakfast. Um, yes, whenever the craving hit, I'd show up at the appropriate house. Fortunately for me, Bengali hospitality is legendary and the neighbors happily set an extra plate for me.

At that point I was more interested in eating than cooking.

Then I took trips to Singapore and saw some of Indian restaurant and food stall cooks actually making them. They did some fancy dough-swinging to rival the most colorful pizza chefs. Can we say, intimidated?  So, though I loved parathas, I never attempted to make any myself.

RasaMalaysia has some gorgeous pictures of professional paratha makers.

However, a new year is a good time to try new things.   And, very appropriately, my #Letslunch buds, a global group of food bloggers, cookbook authors and food enthusiasts who hold virtual potlucks around monthly themes, chose "New Beginnings/a recipe you've always wanted to try" for January...well, parathas simply popped into my mind.

Since new things and intimidating recipes tend to be a bit scary, it's always nice to have someone experienced at your side. So I dragged my Mom into the kitchen. We got to spend some wonderful mother-daughter bonding time and I finally got to make my paratha and eat it too!

You can add all kinds of herbs and spices to the dough, or put in a filling of eggs, vegetables or ground meat to make different types of parathas. But for my first time I wanted to keep things simple. Here's the basic dough recipe:

1 cup atta or whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ghee/melted butter/vegetable oil
some flour on hand to dust


1. Mix the two types of flours, salt and 1/4 cup of fat together to make a smooth dough. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

2. Divide the dough into 10 balls and let rest another 5 minutes.

3. Sprinkle some flour on your rolling surface, select a ball and flatten it. Using a rolling pin or your fingers roll out the ball into a thin sheet (don't worry if it looks like the state of Texas). Brush one side with ghee/fat.

4. Parathas can be folded in different ways and made into squares, triangles, spirals and more.

Here's the vid of Mom showing me one:

5. Roll out your folded paratha into the shape you want. Slightly larger than you want since it tends to shrink a bit.

6. Heat a pancake griddle or a frying pan over medium heat. Lower the heat & toast the paratha in the dry pan. After a minute or two, flip it over. Make sure to regulate the heat because you want the dough to be cooked through, but you don't want to burn the bread.

7. When the bread looks done, pour about 1/2 teaspoon of ghee/oil around the paratha. Lift up at the sides and tilt the pan to make sure the fat slips under the paratha as well. After half a minute, flip the paratha. Add another 1/2 teaspoon of ghee if you want.

8. When the parathas turns a beautiful golden color, it's ready to be served! Using the frying spatula or a spoon (because the bread is HOT), fold the paratha from different directions to break the top into crispy flakes.

Oh, here's a bonus paratha making video...the chef is bound to make you smile :) (put your cursor on "bonus" for some reason the link isn't showing up in a different color).

Also, now that I successfully made parathas, I think I'll spend this year exploring different South Asian breads. Yup, I'm on a roll! There are more than 80 different bread variations in India alone, and several Bengali ones...I think I'll busy playing with dough. Wishing you good health, good eats, and good company in 2013!

Check out the other yummy #Letslunch posts:

foodnutzz's beetroot and feta varenyky

Lisa's Da Bombe Alaska

Nancie's DIY Lemongrass

Linda's Caribbean Trip & Black-eyed peas

Lucy's Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Grace's Matcha Green Tea Yogurt

Annabelle's Brown Butter Creamed Greens