Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bread Baking Babes roll it all out: Aloo Paratha



Aloo Paratha, that's what I chose when it was my turn to bake for November. I saw the recipe earlier and immediately though that that should be the one. I don't know what it is with flatbreads that grab my attention. I think they are hard to get right (yes really) and somehow they are a comforting kind of bread for me. In my minds eye there's always a stack of flatbreads wrapped in a vibrantly colored cotton towel, a warm damp kitchen, a wooden table and some thick spicy curry steaming in an earthenware pot with a sturdy spoon resting against the rim....

Dream along with me?


Now what is a paratha? A parantha/paratha is an Indian unleavened flat-bread. The word Paratha (Parantha in Punjab) is an amalgamation of the words parat = layers and atta= flour. They are supposed to be crisp and brown on the outside and the inner part should consist of thin and soft layers.
This paratha we are going to bake here has a savoury filling of potatoes and herbs. But.. and that's the fun part, we are not restricted to that, I think spinach (sauteed and pressed to get rid of the liquid) would be great, as well as leek. A fun bread to bake! Follow the recipe or make it your own.

Mark Bittman uses a recipe he learned from Indian cook and cookbook writer Julie Sahni, her recipe, modified.

Aloo Parantha
("how to cook everything by Mark Bittman")

1.1/2 c whole wheat flour
1.1/2 c ap flour plus more for rolling out the dough
salt
1 ts ajwain* dried thyme, or ground cumin
2 tbs neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for brushing the breads
1.1/2 pounds starchy potatoes, peeled and cut in half (I think that is way too much! See notes)
1 jalape├▒o or other fresh hot chile, seeded and minced or more to taste
2 tsp ground coriander
freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 small lemon
melted butter

*ajwain comes from carom seeds which look like celery but taste like very strong, slightly coarse thyme

Directions

  • Combine the flours with 1 teaspoon salt and the thyme in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add the oil and 3/4 cup water through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough and, using flour as necessary, shape into a ball; wrap in plastic and let rest while you make the potato mixture. (At this point, you may wrap the dough tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to a day or freeze for up to a week; bring back to room temperature before proceeding.)

  • Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover and a large pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily; cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then drain. Mash the potatoes along with half the chile, the coriander, a large pinch of salt, some pepper, and the lemon juice; taste and adjust the seasoning (you may prefer more chile; sometimes aloo paratha are quite hot).
  • When the dough has rested, set out a bowl of all-purpose flour and a small bowl of oil, with a spoon or brush, on your work surface. Lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin. Break off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Toss it in the bowl of flour and then roll it in your hands to make a ball. Flatten it into a 2-inch disk, then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a thin round, about 5 inches in diameter, dusting with flour as necessary.

  • Mound about 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center of one of the rounds of dough. Bring the edges of the round up over the top of the filling and press them together to make a pouch. Press down on the “neck” of the pouch with the palm of one hand to make a slightly rounded disk. Turn the disk in the bowl of flour and roll it out again into a round 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Pat it between your hands to brush off the excess flour. Put the paratha on a plate and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Continue to roll all of the remaining dough into parathas and stack them on the plate with a sheet of plastic wrap between them. You can keep the paratha stacked like this for an hour or two in the refrigerator before cooking them if necessary.

  • Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two, then put on a paratha (or two, if they’ll fit) and cook until it darkens slightly, usually less than a minute. Flip the paratha with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds on the second side. Use the back of a spoon or a brush to coat the top of the paratha with oil. Flip and coat the other side with oil. Continue cooking the paratha until the bottom of the bread has browned, flip, and repeat. Do this a few times until both sides of the paratha are golden brown and very crisp, 2 to 3 minutes total for each paratha. As the paratha finish, remove them from the pan and brush with melted butter if you’re going to serve hot; otherwise wait until you’ve reheated them.
  •  
I am sure you all can come up with more variations on filling than I can mention here, but I do like the sound of garam masala with the potatoes, spring onions and peas instead of potatoes, or maybe cauliflower...

This is a link to the recipe in the Huffington Post (in which Mark warns us that it may sound like "carbohydrate overkill)

My notes:

- Of course I had some difficulty rolling the dough into a disk... my whole wheat stayed  a bit course and the dough a bit too dry so it didn't relax enough. I found that rolling them a second time after some rest worked wonders.

- I really liked the flavour of these, don't be too shy in adding herbs and flavour, they can use some spice!

- I didn't get crisp through and through they stayed a little pancakey but that wasn't bad at all. Not sure if they are meant to get all crispy?

- Potatoe filling in mine, my spices were falafel, parsley and fresh cilantro. I could have added a green pepper for a bit of oomph.

- Loads of left over filling, too much filling will ooze out so I only used a scant two table spoons in each. You could safely do with half of the mentioned potatoes.

go forth and bake my girls!

And when you do, please send me the link to your post at bakemyday AT gmail DOT com with Aloo Paratha in the subject line before 29th November so I can send you that much coveted Buddy Badge!
Please check with the other Babes to see how creative they made their Aloo Paratha's!

11 comments:

  1. You couldn't have chosen a better bread for November, just what we needed. Thanks oh Baking Yoda for making me bake this!

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  2. I can totally agree with all the notes you made! Yes these were lovely. These pan-baked breads are a big hit here for dinner. Thanks for a wonderful recipe Karen.

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  3. Thank you so much for choosing this recipe, Karen.... we LOVED it! Loved it! I had such fun making it - it was fun and quite easy to make - and we couldn't eat them fast enough. Delicious! I will definitely be making them again and again and trying variations on the filling. Just brilliant! Thank you! A great challenge and great BBB month!

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  4. I definitely agree that these are a comforting sort of bread - and the perfect choice for this month, Karen! Thank you for the challenge...we all enjoyed them.

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  5. An excellent choice Karen! Love that you took the photo of just what you were thinking of when you chose these for November. I bet it all smelled fabulous. Your paratha are beautiful and crispy looking and nice and large. Sweetie loved these and I have lots of leftover filling, so they will be made again. Thanks!

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  6. I wholeheartedly agree with the others, Karen. This was a great choice!

    We've made plain paratha and they were very crispy (but the folding and rolling method was a little different). Our stuffed paratha weren't quite as crispy and flaky but they were still on the crispy side. I wonder if it's because he-who-must-be-obeyed-because-he-knows-everything-about-everything insisted that I add more water to the dough.

    However, crisp or not, paratha are delicious! Many thanks again for choosing them.

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  7. Although I am not one to give in easily I am willing to admit here that he-who-must-be-etc. Was right. Only this time okay?

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  8. These look like such fun! And tasty, too. I can picture that kitchen.....

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  9. Ah yes that is the perfect kitchen and the curry sounds so wonderful with these. Looking at your paratha makes me think I rolled mine a little thin. I have enough dough for 4 or 5 tomorrow night and will try a little thicker, even if I don't have the curry ...
    We are truly enjoying these.

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  10. Hi. Please can I join the party? I am so kicked that this time you are making aloo parathas. I have put up a post on Radish stuffed parathas @ http://www.myfoodlab.com/radish-parathas-with-mint-raita-mooli-ke-parathe-pudhine-raite-ke-saath/
    Hope to get one of the coveted Buddy badge.
    Thanks
    Sunita

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