Aloo ke paranthe/potato filled flatbread
The holidays are here and to me this is a time to revel in the company of family, friends and of course, good food and yummy desserts. My friend and co-writer on this blog, Akkta, is off to an adventurous journey of the Punjab and Delhi. To those unfamiliar with India and it’s geography, think of Punjab as the American Midwest minus the snowstorms. Night time temperatures there are often below zero and the days are enveloped in mists that remain unmoving for days at end. I hope Akkta went prepared!
We will hear from her soon and I, for one, am waiting to read about her food adventures. Yummm, my mouth is watering at the thought of warm potato stuffed flatbread (parantha) served with mango pickle and curd. That is a meal which is synonymous with the Punjab and a Punjabi who doesn’t like paranthas is one to be suspicious of!
While Akkta explores the eateries of Amritsar, Chandigarh and New Delhi, I am going to share with you my recipe of making aloo ke paranthe. (Potato filled flatbread) A word of caution, this recipe, though simple, requires some amount of preparation and heavy labour (read kneading). So, don’t dream of biting into a warm, delicious parantha unless you are prepared for the labour of love that it demands.
Portions: 2-3 paranthas each
For the filling;
4 large potatoes, steamed, peeled and mashed.
1 onion, finely chopped.
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped.
Ginger, 1 by 1 inch piece, shredded/grated.
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped.
Salt to taste.
Ground Black pepper to taste.
Red chilli powder, 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder, 1 tsp.
Amchoor, 1-2 tsp, optional.
Ajwain, 1 tsp, optional.
For the flatbread/parantha;
5 cups Whole wheat flour
Luke warm water to knead the flour, about 4 cups.
Cooking oil, half a cup. Or cooking oil spray.
Paranthas, as mentioned earlier can be roughly translated into filled flatbreads. In this case the filling is made of potatoes, known as aloo in Hindi. So, the method requires much like making a patty, the rolling of the dough into a flat circle, putting the filling in the center, closing it up and rolling it again to flatten the parantha. This process can be messy, creating unevenly filled paranthas. Instead, some months ago a friend of ours, fed us paranthas made differently. That is the process I am sharing with you today.
It requires the kneading of the filling into the dough and thus eliminates the steps of filling the dough and rolling the bread again. So here goes.
First, wash the potatoes well, removing all the dust that might be on the skin. Then in a pressure cooker, add the potatoes and enough water to cover them. Steam until you get the first whistle, then lower the heat and let it sit for another 10 minutes after which, drain the water and let them cool.
Meanwhile, wash the onion, garlic, ginger and green chillies. As you can see, I am quite the hygiene freak! Anyway, now finely chop the onions, chillies and garlic. I usually smash the garlic pods before chopping them, a trick I learnt from TV and my brother-in-law. It really does release the flavour. Similarly, peel the ginger and grate it.
If the potatoes arent cool yet, prick them with a fork and drop them into a bowl of cold water. They will cool faster. Peel off the skin and mash the potatoes.
Now in a large, wide bowl or a platter with raised edges, add the flour. Make space in the center and heap in the mashed potatoes and the already chopped and ready onions, chillies, garlic and ginger. Over this mixture, sprinkle salt (1-2 tsp), black pepper, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.You can add a pinch or two of amchoor powder if you like your parantha to be slightly tangy. I also add a teaspoon or two of ajwain, it adds to the flavour and is apparently good for digestion. With clean hands start mixing in everything and kneading it into the flour. Once the mixture starts forming lumps with the flour, use water to knead it all together. You want to start with little water at a time. Turn in only about quarter of a cup, knead, then add more. If you add too much water and the dough gets too sticky, the only remedy is to add some more dry flour and knead it.
Kneading is tricky and I will post a separate piece on how to start doing it right. For now, you want a dough that has incorporated all the ingredients, is not sticking to your fingers and is elastic. If you poke at it, it should bounce back, slowly, but surely.
Finally, cooking the bread
Take a griddle/ tawa, and put it on at high heat. Keeping your hand a couple of inches away from the surface you can judge if its hot. Turn the heat down to a medium.
Make balls of the dough. They should be easy enough to hold in the palm of your hand. Don’t begin with very big balls of dough. Make them round and smooth, then place them on your counter (again remember to clean it) and start rolling with a rolling-pin. Flatten it into a circle, only as thin as easily possible and such that it doesn’t stick to the counter. Pat it in dry flour if it gets sticky. Now transfer this to the griddle. Cook on one side for a few minutes, 2 approximately, you will see little mound forming on the side touching the griddle. Flip the bread over. Lightly coat the side facing you with cooking oil. I prefer using canola oil spray. You can also use butter.
In a minute or two, flip again and coat the side facing up. So both, the sides have got a coat of oil. By now the parantha would have become darker, visibly cooked, with maybe some brown/black spots. This is normal, it hasn’t burnt! Press the parantha with a flat pancake spatula, sometimes it will rise like an air-filled balloon. If this is the repeated result with your paranthas, you are a master at cooking Indian style breads!
This is it, slide off the parantha onto a plate, serve with some mango pickle and plain curd. (yoghurt). Be careful while breaking the first bite, it’s going to be hot! Enjoy your meal 🙂 my mouth is watering at the very thought of home-made paranthas.
I am going to get started on mine. Let me know how this worked out for you.