Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Paneer ka Parantha (Indian Cheese Parantha)

Recipe 1in

Punjabis love their paranthas (stuffed flat bread) with all kinds of stuffings and people are always experimenting to see what new variety they can create. The trick is not just in the stuffing, but the spices you use and then how you cook them so that you still get the crispy, buttery whole wheat taste. When we lived in London in the 60s, my kids always came up with new ideas – like sugar or grated Cheddar cheese for stuffings – and they loved to eat them hot off the tava (hotplate). It was a type of pizza before pizza became popular!

Everyone is familiar with the usual paranthas: aloo (potatoes), gajjar (carrots), phul gobi (cauliflower), mouli (white radish) or piyaaz (onions). But, if you know how to prepare the stuffings right, you can make paranthas with left over daal (lentils), other veggies like bhindi (okra) or baingan (eggplant). In all cases, the secret to a good, crispy parantha is to make sure that the atta (dough) does not get too soft with the curry or moisture in the vegetable that you use as a stuffing.

If you prefer spicy paranthas, add all the spice-mixture; but add salt only to each dough ball and not the entire paneer stuffing or it will shed water which makes it difficult to roll the dough out.

Paneer paranthas have become quite common now too, especially in restaurants in India where paneer is used to excess in many of the prepared dishes since it is a high cost item, and brings in more money. But the paneer paranthas they usually make is in the tandoor and these don’t the same taste as the ones made on the tava, which are much softer.

All sorts of paranthas can be eaten with a dollop of butter – preferably homemade white butter – placed on the hot parantha, melting into the top layer so that you dab into the drippings, plain yogurt alone or with achaar (pickles).  But paneer paranthas taste much better with a curry dish, adding a subtle flavor to the meal.

Ingredients :    
500gm kanak (gehon) ka atta (wheat flour)
100 gm paneer (Indian cheese)
1 small piyaaz (onion) – peeled and chopped
2 tbsp tael (olive oil or vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups pani (water)
Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), dhania (coriander powder), garam masala, ajawain (carom seeds)Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper)

1. Cut the paneer into smaller pieces and then mash it. Add the chopped onions, spices and pepper, mix well and keep to the side.
2. Pour the flour in a bowl and slowly pour in water while kneading the dough till it becomes a nice, tender by firm ball. Dab the surface of the ball with a little water to keep it moist, cover the bowl and set aside. The dough should be soft but not watery, if the dough is too hard, the parantha will also be hard.
3. If you want to cook later, dab the top of the atta with a small amount of oil to see the crust soft and then leave the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. You should not cook the paranthas right after making the dough as they will come out hard.
4. Break the dough into small paade (balls) and then roll out into an 8 to 10 inch circle. Now place a small amount of the paneer masala into the middle of the circle so that it can be closed easily and does not tear when rolled out.
5.Put a small dab of oil on a hot tava (hotplate or skillet) and place the flattened dough on. When it turns color a little, turn the pancake over. Put another dab of oil on the tava and then turn it over again till it is fully cooked. The parantha will be cooked when it has some dark brown spots on it.
6.Because of the paneer these paranthas are quite soft and easy for older people to eat. Try these with butter, yogurt or a plain daal for best taste.



Cooking daal can be easy or time consuming, depending on the variety of daal being made. The yellow dhuli moong and red split massar daal cook quite quickly in a regular pot; but the black mahn (urad) daal is harder to cook and takes more time.

Although the mahn daal takes much longer, take care when cooking it as it will often foam over and spill out. When it foams, scrape it off with a spoon then add a teaspoon of oil and some haldi (turmeric), then let it boil till it becomes tender. This is easier than cooking in the pressure cooker, but takes a little longer.

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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 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 mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.