Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Parathas require just that little bit of extra effort compared to making a regular chapati. But the rewards are way more delicious and nutritious, making them absolute winners.
Even those who don't cook Indian food have doubtless had a paratha at a restaurant. And while parathas can be stuffed with just about everything from sweet potatoes to carrot to radish to even tofu, the most basic and ubiquitous version has got to be the gorgeous Aloo Paratha.
It's definitely my favorite, because I love potatoes and firmly believe that despite the fact that most people think potatoes are bad for you, they can-- cooked the right way, by which I mean not deep-fried-- actually be good for you. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. As with any food, exercising moderation is the best way to have your potato and eat it too.
What's also wonderful about an Aloo Paratha is, you don't have to have every ingredient in any recipe on hand. So long as you have the primary ingredients -- wheat flour, potatoes and some chili powder and salt, you are pretty much good to go. From there on you can, of course, build on the flavors, adding more spices like Amchoor (dry mango powder which is tangy and delicious), turmeric, even garam masala. Finely minced herbs like mint or coriander would be bliss in a paratha. If you use onions, however, make sure you mince them really fine because you don't want big pieces of onion tearing holes into the paratha when you roll it.
This recipe is really simple: a very basic one, but it is pretty much fail-safe. Make it to light up a simple dinner and serve it with any spicy subzi, or even with this spicy vegan kheema, as I did.
For the dough:
2 cups durum whole wheat flour (use regular whole wheat if you can't find this, but the durum wheat does make softer parathas).
1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients and use water to knead into a smooth dough. Set aside for at least half an hour.
For the filling:
3 medium potatoes, boiled until tender, then peeled and mashed or passed through a potato ricer. The potatoes should be smooth-- you don't want any big lumps in here.
1 tsp red chili powder like cayenne
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
1 tsp grated ginger
Mix together the red chili powder, the grated ginger, the zest and salt. Set aside.
Pull off a 1 1/2-inch ball of the dough. Using some flour to prevent it from sticking, roll out the dough into a five-inch circle.
Now make a smaller, 3/4th-inch ball of the spiced potato mixture. Place it in the center of the rolled-out dough.
Then, gather up the edges of the dough around the potato mixture and press together where the ends meet on top to form a firm seal.
Roll out into a 7-inch circle, using flour to prevent the paratha from sticking.
Heat a griddle. Cook the paratha on either side, about 3 minutes each, until golden spots appear. You can brush on some oil on each side, if desired, although it's not necessary at all.