Learning how to make stuffed parathas wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for me. Most often I would go overboard with the filling and the paratha would crack open while rolling, leaving a messy spill. To counter that, I would fill so little that only superactive taste buds could tell there was actually something between the layers of flour.
One day years ago, quite by accident, I discovered this pleasing middle ground – aloo parathas without stuffing. Sharing my method here, I’m sure this will help the novice paratha rollers among you.
On that fateful day, after spoiling an aloo paratha while rolling it out, I scraped the flour and filling mess off of the chakla and kneaded a frustrated ball of them together. The ball, I saw, retained its pliability and what’s more, it looked eminently "rollable". And so inspired, I put the kneaded ball back on the chakla and shaped it into a disk. Voilà! Aloo paratha in a new avatar. Toasted and had with chutney and raita, this was the next best thing to its popular sibling, the stuffed aloo paratha.
For the dough:
- Atta – 2 cups
- Coriander leaves –
1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Water – to knead
For the potato masala:
- Potatoes – 2 large, boiled
- Onion – 1, finely chopped
- Green chilies – 1, finely chopped
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Asafoetida – a pinch
- Oil – 2 teaspoons
- Salt – to taste
Ghee or oil – for shallow-frying
Preparing the potato masala:
Peel and mash the boiled potatoes.
In a skillet, heat the oil to smoking point, then set the flame to low. Add cumin seeds, follow immediately with asafoetida, finely chopped green chilies and onions. After a minute, add mashed potatoes and mix well.
Set the flame to medium and stir at regular intervals, taking care to scrape the potato off the bottom of the skillet to avoid burning. Add coriander powder, red chili powder and salt. Mix well. Take the potato masala off the flame after two minutes. Let it cool to room temperature.
Preparing the paratha dough:
In a wide-mouthed utensil, measure out a cup of atta (whole wheat flour). Knead into it the potato masala and finely chopped coriander leaves. Take your time over this if doing it with hand - break any lumps of potato that you find along the way.
When this mixture looks even, knead in water a little at a time, till the dough becomes pliable enough to pluck out balls with ease and not so soft that it sticks to your fingers.
Since the potato masala adds its own binding quality to the flour, you will need to add very little additional water for kneading.
Let the dough stand covered for 30 mins.
Rolling and cooking:
Make balls of the dough the size of golf balls. Press a ball flat between your palms, give it a quick dip in dry atta and roll it into a disk 6 inches in diameter.
Place a tava on the fire, put one side of the paratha on it. You can keep the flame high for the first two minutes and then set it to medium. Note that if you set the flame too low, the parathas will turn out to be papad-like – crisp and brittle instead of soft. [Actually, I sometimes like my parathas that way. Do it as you like, just keep in mind that you get different results with different flame intensity.]
When brown spots begin to form, turn it over and spread a little oil or ghee on it.
Use a spatula to gently press the paratha so that it browns evenly. Repeat the same on the other side.
Take the paratha off the fire and press a tissue paper to remove excess oil.
Serve hot with accompaniments like raita, pickle and chutney.