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


  1. Oh, Rashda, this is gorgeous in every way. I love the picture of you timing your visits to match the paratha-making routines of your generous community, and the video of your mom rolling the dough? So moving and enlightening. I love this and will be making some at home. Reminded me of the 'ro-tee' vendors in the night markets in Thailand --- swingind and swirling the dough, flapping and folding, and serving it with a side of sweetened condensed milk. Love your bread project idea.

    1. Thanks Nancie! I hope to do a whole lot more with food this year and #Letslunch got me off to a good start. Isn't amazing how every part of the world has something to do with bread?

  2. These are so interesting ~ so glad you included the step by step, because I'm a little bit intimidated! Great start to #letslunch 2013!

    1. Hi Lucy, thanks for visiting! I was intimidated for the longest time, but they are a lot easier than most people realize. And yummy!

  3. Rashda, Happy New Year! My husband will be very, very happy if I make him homemade paratha to go with some Trini curries. Thanks for the tutorial!

    1. Happy New Year, Linda! Have fun making parathas :)Thanks for visiting!

  4. Oh my! My kids (and I) love Indian breads, We'll have to try this some time. I love how you are learning all these recipes from your mom ;)

    1. Yes, I'm so glad we both enjoy spending time in the kitchen, we get to bond and I'm learning from the best :)

      Thanks for visiting, Grace!

  5. Having grown up in Singapore enjoying roti prata at the "coffeeshop," I never felt the need to make these. But a friend showed me how to make his version (bust-up-shut) and convinced me that it's both fun and easy!

    1. Oh! I've seen the bust-up-shut it!

  6. Love the video! Paratha is so great; I would love to learn to make the potato-stuffed variety one of these days. (Yes, I like my starch with more starch. Who doesn't?)

    1. I'm with you Annabelle, if I'm going to enjoy starch, I'm going to E-N-J-O-Y it! :D

      And yes, I'm hoping to try Aloo Parathas one day!