By: Saira Malhotra
Sunday brunch evokes feelings of cozy, buttery and yolky moments with a large cup of coffee and the morning paper in most American households. If we catapult ourselves East to India, the picture is quite different. The stoves are fired-up and there is sizzle and smoke that emanate from the kitchen. The lady of the house oversees that fresh hot breakfast is made a la minute and served to the family. What is she making that is causing such a stir?
It’s called a Parantha – a perfectly circular pastry stuffed with an assortment of fillings. She may have separate bowls of grated radish, cooked ground lamb, grated cauliflower or mashed potatoes all of which are combined with fresh cilantro, green chilies, ginger, garam masala and mango powder for that soured zing. As she rounds up the family’s orders, she rolls out the dough, stuffs, cooks and crisps them on a skillet and throws them down on the plate directly from the tawa (Indian skillet).
Not that parantha requires anything extra as its flavor validates being served alone, it is traditionally served with a knob of butter thrown over the top with homemade yogurt and pickles on the side. There is one ‘unsaid’ priority that exists when serving paranthas; the person who is sits at the table first, gets seconds before anybody else to prevent disturbance to their meal flow. A no-pretence dish made at home, local street food joints or hole in the walls, this flaky bread is spicy, crispy and yet so soft paranthas. If you’re feeling ambitious make a few extra to freeze, as they make the perfect lunch or afternoon snack.
Adapted from Passport Pantry
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3 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup of wheat flour for rolling dough
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
4 large boiled russet potatoes, mashed
1 tablespoon ginger, finely diced
Fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon dried mango or pomegranate powder (use 1 teaspoon lemon juice if you can’t find this)
2 green chilies, deseeded if desired
- Combine all dough ingredients. Knead until it is a little softer than pizza dough. Cover with a damp towel and set aside for 1 hour to rest the gluten.
- Combine all filling ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning. It should taste a little more intense that your palate can taste as the flavor softens when it is stuffed in the dough.
- Heat a skillet on medium to high.
- Make golf-sized balls from the dough, lightly flour the surface and roll out the balls in to 3″ diameter discs. Place 1 tablespoon of the stuffing mixture in the center and pull up the side to form a beggar’s purse shape. Lightly dip in to the flour and roll out to a 6″ circle.*
- Place on to the heated skillet for until brown spots appear, flip to the other side. As brown spots appear, lightly brush with oil or butter and repeat step on the other side.
- Remove from skillet and serve with plain and unsweetened yogurt.
Do not be discouraged if the paranthas are irregular in shape. The shape is only for aesthetics and for some, irregular provides for a more rustic look.