Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Aaloo da Parantha (POTATO STUFFED CRISPY FLATBREAD)

Every cuisine in every corner of the world has its comfort food and if you ask a Punjabi, what their choice is, chances are pretty good that they’ll first say “paranthas (crispy flatbread)! Paranthas have become famous the world over and are found not just in Indian restaurants but also in the frozen food section of Indian grocery stores. Though the basic way to make paranthas is very similar but it’s the stuffing that differentiates them in the cooking methods and of course the taste … and even the way you eat them.

So well is this idea ingrained in the minds of people that the art of cooking paranthas is celebrated in guidebooks like Michelin or Lonely Planet which lead tourists to a small busy restaurant in the old part of Delhi in Chandni Chowk to the Paranthe di Gulli (Parantha Alley) where there is usually a line to get in to eat 12 inch round paranthas of all types!

A homemade Punjabi parantha is usually 8 to 10 inches round and nearly ¼ inch thick. It is made of twice-rolled dough, with a little dab of oil and then cooked on each side till there is a crispy, golden brown top layer, which can only happen when you coax the dough to actually puff up and NOT press down hard on it while cooking. Then the crispy side is coated with some butter or oil and served piping hot.

The easiest – and most often made – stuffed parantha is the aaloo (potato) type probably because they are readily available everywhere and easy to cook and prepare. Many people make aloo paranthas that are limp and taste like soggy mashed potatoes which takes the joy out of them, while others use too much butter or oil which makes them too greasy. Made properly, they should be crispy and just firm enough to eat with plain yogurt.

Ingredients:
• 500gm kanak (gehon) ka atta (wheat flour)
• 500gm aaloo (potatoes) – firm white, not Russet or baking kind
• 2 tbsp tael (olive or vegetable oil)
• 1 1/2 cups pani (water)
• 1 tsp dhaniya (coriander)
• ½ tsp lal mirch (red pepper)
• 1 tsp amchoor (mango powder)
• ½ tsp garam masala
• ½ tsp ajwain (fenugreek)
• Pinch of namak (salt) per parantha

Directions:
1. Combine the spice ingredients in a small bowl and set off to the side.
2. Knead the atta into dough with water and set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to a boil. When they are soft but not mushy, turn the heat off and drain the water out. Let the potatoes cool off for 20 minutes.
4. Peel the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Smash them with a masher into small pieces. Add the spice mixture and mix thoroughly.
5. Pinch off a piece of dough and make into 1½ inch round padde (balls). Roll each padda out into a 4 inch disc.
6. Spread the dough into the middle of the disc and place three tablespoons of the smashed potatoes into it. Throw in a bit of salt and then gather off the ends off the dough with a pinch and then roll into a ball again.
7. Carefully roll out the ball into an 8 to 10 inch disc ¼ inches thick, trying not to spill the mixture in a tear of the dough.
8. Put a small dab of oil on a hot tava (hotplate or skillet) and place the flattened disc on. When it puffs a bit and turn color, turn the pancake over. Turn the heat to medium low. Put another dab of oil on the tava and then turn it over again till it is fully cooked.
9. These paranthas are best served hot with butter, plain yogurt or lassi (buttermilk).

MAMA’S TIP OF THE WEEK

THE DOs AND DON’Ts OF MAKING GOOD PARANTHAS

Making tasty and crispy aaloo paranthas can be tricky but a few tips can make the end results a much better. The first tip is not to put the salt into the mashed potatoes along with the rest of the spices. This only makes the potatoes shed water and makes it difficult to stuff and roll out the dough. Then, it is important to turn the heat on high under the tava and when the first parantha is turned for the first time, turn the heat to medium low. Next, place a little oil on the tava each time before you place and flip the parantha. This will make it crispy. Finally, do not press down hard of the uncooked parantha but wait till both sides are slightly cooked, then try to make the parantha fluff up.

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her early-nineties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.