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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Recipe of the month - Aloo Paratha (Potato Stuffed Flatbread)


Aloo Paratha - a delicious Indian whole wheat flatbread stuffed with with a spicy potato filling, cooked on a hot pan, smeared with butter or ghee and served with pickle and homemade yoghurt....comfort food at its best!

I love...love...love stuffed pararthas! And for me, the KING of all stuffed parathas is aloo paratha. Aloo means potato in Hindi and I love anything and everything made out of aloos! Second-in-line to the paratha throne (for me) would either be gobi (cauliflower) paratha or paneer (cottage cheese) paratha. They have to be among my top picks for the Punjabi contribution to Indian cuisine. Stuffed parathas takes me way back to my undergraduate days as a dental student in India when I used to frequent the popular Punjabi mess (canteen) next to my college with my batchmates and tuck into their delicious aloo and gobi parathas. Coming back to the present day, if someone made me a plateful of these piping hot parathas for breakfast on a weekend morning, they would get a huge hug of gratitude in return! I don't make parathas at home very frequently because I've never considered myself as an expert at making them. I order them at North Indian restaurants most of the time or else get my mum to make them for me when I'm in India. But occasionally I do feel like making them at home to satisfy my paratha craving. And you know the best thing about aloo parathas? You don't require any special side dish - a dollop of plain yoghurt and your favourite pickle and you are good to go! 

You know those skilled women who can roll out perfectly round roti after roti at a robotic pace? Well, I am NOT one of them! Although the rotis that I make may be be perceived as somewhat roundish, the same cannot be said for parathas. Initially when I started making stuffed parathas, I was plagued by two issues - one, the filling would invariably ooze out during the rolling process and second, the parathas would end up in all sorts of odd shapes. So, in order to overcome this, I would make two small rotis of roughly equal size, flatten a ball of filling in the middle of one roti, dab a little water around the edges of the roti, cover with the second roti and then roll it out. I would always get nicely round parathas by this method but the parathas would not be as soft as I would like them to be and there would hardly be any filling at the edges. So, I decided to make the parathas the conventional way (round or not!). Gradually I learned that the key to making good parathas is getting the right consistency of the dough, giving the dough some rest, ensuring that the filling has cooled down and is as devoid of moisture as possible and in the case of a aloo paratha, completely smooth (without lumps) before rolling them out. 

This is how I have started to make aloo parathas and I can honestly tell you that I am very happy with this procedure (hubby agrees too!). The parathas turn out soft, well flavored and as you can see from the photos, acceptably round even from an amateur paratha-maker like me!  


Preparation time: ~ 45 mins
Recipe level: Easy with a little practice!
Makes: 8 medium-sized parathas 
Serves 2-3 

Ingredients:

For the paratha dough:
2 1/2 cups* whole wheat four (I used Pillsbury Chakki Atta)
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ghee/vegetable oil
1 cup* warm water (approximate) for kneading the dough
* The cup here refers to the standard dry measuring cup

For the potato filling:
4 medium-large potatoes
1 small red onion, finely chopped 
2 tsp finely minced garlic-ginger-green chilli 
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/2 tsp dry mango/amchur powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt (or according to taste)
1 large bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Flour - to dust
Ghee or oil - to fry the parathas

Method:

1. Steam or pressure cook the potatoes until well-cooked and soft. Alternatively, you could microwave chunks of potatoes (with skins on), sprinkled with a little water until done. Peel and keep aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, add all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl (except the water) and give it a mix. Now add the warm water little by little until the mixture comes together to form an elastic dough (you can use our hands or a kneading mixer for this purpose). Knead well for a few minutes. Make sure the dough does not end up sticky (if it does, add a little more flour and knead). Cover the dough using clingfilm or a moist kitchen towel and keep aside until required. 
3. Once the potatoes have cooled down, peel and mash them well to ensure there are no lumps. Alternatively, you can even grate the potatoes (but I am too lazy to do that!).
4. Add the remaining items for the filling and mix well to combine. Check the seasonings. 


5. Make 8 lemon-sized balls out of the filling and then do the same with the dough and arrange them on a plate. The dough balls and potato balls should roughly be the same size or else the potato balls maybe slightly larger.
6. For rolling out the parathas, dust a wooden rolling board with some flour. Take one dough ball, flatten it a bit, dab it in some flour and roll it out as shown. Place a potato ball in the centre. Now wrap the potato ball with the dough and gather and pinch the top. Remove any excess dough if present. Flatten this ball slightly, sprinkle some more flour on top and roll it out gently into a circular shape as shown. Take care to maintain a uniform thickness throughout the paratha. If the potato filling is exposed on the undersurface as you are rolling, don't fret. Gently pry the paratha from the board, dust the board with a little more flour and continue. Do not thin out the centre portion of the paratha too much while rolling. 

This is the roundest I can achieve!
7. Continue similarly with the rest of the dough and potato balls. You can either roll the paratha and shallow fry them one by one or roll all of them together and then subsequently fry them. If you decide to roll them all together, I would advise you not to stack the rolled out parathas on top of each other as they might stick to each other.
8. Place a tawa on medium-high heat and once hot, place one rolled out paratha on it. Brush lightly with some ghee/oil.
9. Fry the paratha until you see brown spots on the surface after which flip the paratha over and oil the other surface. Continue this process till the paratha is cooked through. It should take about 2 to 4 minutes per paratha.


10. Place in a hot box or a pre heated oven on low till you finish cooking the remaining parathas.
11. Serve hot topped with unsalted butter alongside home-made (or store bought) plain yoghurt and pickle of your choice.



Sending this post across to the following event hosted by The Big Sweet Tooth:


Notes:  
  • It is preferable to use the baking variety of potatoes (Idaho or Russet) to make aloo parathas
  • If you don't have dry mango/amchur powder, you can use the juice from half a lime in the potato filling.
  • I love the Hot Mango pickle from Sanjeev Kapoor's Indian pickle range and I like the combination of aloo paratha with this particular pickle. 
  • You can freeze these parathas. Partially cook the parathas on either side, cool them and then pack them between some aluminium foil or parchment paper, put them in a zip lock bag and pop them in the freezer. When you are ready to cook them, heat the tawa, grease with a little oil and cook the parathas till you see uniform brown spots on either surface.

8 comments:

  1. At first thought, it seems easy but no, it really needs practice. :D How much are the ingredients? And where can I buy turmeric or curcumin powder?

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Sweety - Don't worry....I don't have much practice myself but I still get by! U can buy turmeric powder in any Asian/Indian grocery store. Adding turmeric is optional....it is only for the color. All the ingredients for this dish are easily available and inexpensive.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love these at our favorite Indian restaurant and yours look amazing! Definitely on my "to try" list! Nice post!!

    ReplyDelete

  4. I love this Aloo paratha recipe. Aloo Paratha are my favorite and I love to try different parathas. This paratha recipe is refreshingly new. I am going to try

    this.Can't wait to try it.thank you for shearing your post. Regards, Aalo Paratha

    ReplyDelete
  5. Perfectly made!
    www.sailajakitchen.org

    ReplyDelete

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