Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Stuffed Aloo/potato parathas (Indian flat bread)

aloo parathas
Aloo parathas
If there was one thing I didn't know how to do well, it was chappatis and parathas.. I always used to wonder how some people got them so soft and if you ask anyone for their secrets, they don't seem to have any. There's nothing to it! Then why did ours turn out like flat hard chewy stones?... I'ts taken me a little research and a bit of practice, and I'm happy to say I've mastered the art now!! 

aloo parathas
Aloo parathas

I tried all sorts of different methods: one where I mixed the filling into the flour and kneaded it all together, another method was to make one chappati ball and then put the stuffing in and roll it out..(it used to ooze out making it difficult to roll - will show you my tip later as I modified this version), I also tried making two chappatis (uncooked) and then putting the stuffing on one and adding the other one on top and pinching it together. It made for a very heavy paratha..

After trying my hand successfully at bread, I figured it can't be that difficult to get it right... I did a lot of research on the net, watched a lot of videos and basically have put them all together to give you a fool proof recipe.. It's a good filling meal for children especially, given with a small bowl of curd. What gave me the ultimate pleasure was when I saw them rise up like balloons (phulkas) even though they were parathas..

If you want to avoid all that research and get all the tips you need in one place, then look no further than my recipe below. I will also attach a link to my original chappati recipe, which you can go to, to make the basic dough.

I've highlighted in black a few key things to keep in mind when making them. These steps are essential if you want a nice light paratha.

As for the filling, you could use anything you want. I will list below a few ideas that you could use..
Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) on its own
Cumin seeds on its own
Paneer crumbled (cottage cheese)
Boiled and mashed potato
Cooked and seasoned dry beef or chicken mince
Boiled vegetables
Basically any cooked dry leftovers can be used as well

If using paneer, potato etc.. you can give it more depth by adding some green chillies, fresh coriander leaves, some whole spices like cumin seeds etc, and also some spice powders like turmeric, chilli powder or any of your favourite spice mixes..

For the basic dough recipe see the one I have on my blog under the "bread" heading for chappatis. I used double the chappati recipe so 4 cups (instead of 2) of flour and it gave me around 10 parathas.

Ingredients for filling:
2 medium potatoes boiled and mashed
Coriander leaves finely chopped
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds or cumin powder

Ghee for frying

To make the parathas:
Make bigger balls than you would for chappatis (almost double the size) and set aside. Always remember to keep them covered with a cloth to avoid the dough drying up.

Now the key here is to take the ball, flatten it a bit and thin out the edges with your fingers, leaving the middle heavy. This should be done by hand, not rolled out..You can do so, by just pinching the outer rim

The filling size should be approx. the same as the dough ball. Place in on the middle round part and start pulling the edges to cover it, like you would if you were making momos or wantons. Pinch finally to seal.

Do this for all the balls and set aside.
Now take the stuffed ball and flatten it with your hand. This is another key step. Do not roll yet.. You need to flatten it well so that the filling is evenly distributed. This step is crucial to avoid filling oozing out..

Finally roll the dough out into a round shape, using the bare minimum extra flour for dusting..
Another big key is to use as little flour when rolling as possible. I just sprinkle a bit of flour if I find it getting sticky.. Too much flour gives it a powdery taste and tends to make the chappati or paratha burn much faster..

Your flame or electric burner should be on a medium high heat. Preheat your pan so that the process goes quicker. Drizzle a bit of ghee or oil on the pan first, before adding the paratha. Place the rolled out paratha on the pan or tawa. In the meanwhile, roll out the second one.. You need to get a rhythm going where you place one on the pan, and in the meanwhile roll out the other..

Another key here is to start rolling the second one, the minute you place the first one in the pan. It will take a few seconds for the one on the pan to start cooking, that gives you the time you need to roll the second one.. There is no need to watch the one on the pan initially. As you start rolling out the second keep an eye out for the one on the pan.

Do not pre roll out all the parathas or chappatis. They will either get dry or stick to the surface.

Another key hint here, is to use tongs when handling the chappatis or parathas on the pan. I have a pair that I picked up at Ikea that has the two end edges coated in plastic and I think it helps avoid you poking a hole in it while flipping them for frying.

When you start to see a few bubbles on the surface you know its ready to flip over. But before you do, take the back of your spoon and rub the surface with a little ghee, now you can flip it over. Cook till both sides are golden brown and remove.

I have enclosed a picture of a food warmer that is available in most grocery stores. It is ideal for storing chappatis or parathas. Line it on the inside with a small cloth to absorb any moisture from the steaming hot parathas.

The difference in a paratha and a chappati to me, is I add ghee in the former, while I leave the latter a healthier option. You could avoid ghee and use oil instead.

Serve with some pickle on the side and a bowl of curd (my kids like it with a spoonful of sugar in it).

aloo parathas
Aloo parathas
Attaching the link for the chappati dough, Click on the highlighted words for tips and tricks on how to make the softest  Chappatis .

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