September 2, 2009

Potato Paratha

Paratha are a type of Indian flatbread that can either be stuffed with something (potatoes, radish, paneer) or kept at a minimum to reveal the flaky layers within. These are great for soaking up kala channa gravy and maybe rajma, or really anything.

Unstuffed potato paratha (above) with mom's kala channa, yogurt and Indian pickle. This is honest to good home-cooking. Mom you are my cooking hero!

A simple meal could be paratha served with plain yogurt, onions and lime, and some mango pickle or aachar. The first step in making a stuffed paratha is to prepare the stuffing. In this case, boil or microwave the potatoes, and then peel once cooled. You will be smashing the potatoes with cumin, ground ginger, garlic and jalapenos, salt and fresh lemon juice.

Regular unstuffed paratha can be mixed with the paratha ingredients. Stuffed parathas are very special. My favorite is a radish-stuffed paratha from Taj Imports in Richardson, TX, and a close near tie is my mom's potato one.

While the potatoes are cooking you can either prep the ingredients for the stuffing or make the paratha dough. It will need a few minutes to rest before rolling out. The paratha dough will be rolled out into 6 inch circles, filled with about 2-3 T of stuffing, covered with another 6 inch circle, sealed then rolled out into a 10 inch large paratha.

Potato parathas
For the potato stuffing:
2 baking potatoes, cooked and peeled
1/2 cup or more, reserved cooking liquid from the potatoes
1 T ginger, minced fine
1 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

For the paratha dough:
2 cups chappati or atta flour, or substitute 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup all purpose flour
2-3 T vegetable oil, such as olive oil
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar (optional)

Directions for the stuffing:
  1. Place potatoes in a large bowl and smash slightly.
  2. Put the ginger through lemon in the bowl and pour in about 1/2 of the reserved cooking liquid. Continue mixing until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may need less or more water. Set aside until ready to use.

Ready to mix up (above)
Preparing the dough:
  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar and oils in a large mixing bowl. Make sure you set extra flour aside in case you need it and set some water next to you.
  2. With your hands mix everything together. Gradually add in water and continue to mix until a soft, slightly tacky dough forms. You can roll out onto the counter and knead slightly. The dough is ready when there is any "raw" looking dough and it doesn't stick to your hands.
  3. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, longer is fine too.
  4. When ready, set a small dish with flour next to you, and start to roll the dough into about 12 equal balls. Set them aside.
  5. To begin rolling, dust the ball in enough flour so that it will not stick to the surface. With a rolling pin roll out to about 6 inches. Set aside. You can roll them all at once, covering each one with wax paper or (that is wasteful isn't it?) just put the rolled pieces on the edge of plate, and make sure they don't touch.

6. You will be using 2 rolled out circles for 1 paratha.

7. Set one circle down, fill with 2-3 T of stuffing, and cover with the 2nd circle. Smoosh the potatoes around, and seal the edges so you can begin to roll the dough out.
8. Continue to roll into a 10-12 inch circle.
9. To cook the paratha, place them on an oiled cast-iron pan or skillet until golden brown on each side.
10. Serve hot, with some ghee or butter drizzled on top.

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