Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Pudine da Parantha (Mint Parantha)

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One of the greatest joys of cooking is to be able to experiment with different ingredients and techniques to make a dish that is delightful and enjoyable. This is the concept at the heart of fusion cooking of any sort, whether it be one of the four great cuisines of the world, Chinese, Indian, Italian or French. Experimentation is what led to the American style of pizza and the French style of croissants (which originated in Austria) or even Swedish meatballs.

And you can extend this to the art of making paranthas (crispy stuffed flatbreads), whose ingredients are only limited by your imagination and the way to cook them. You can make Punjabi paranthas with just about any kind of stuffing, as long as they are vegetarian, each with a different type of masala (spice mixture), preparation and method to roll out the flour pancake and cook it on the tava (flatplate). The taste of each parantha depends on all these things and finally how it is cooked. So there are paranthas made of aloo (potato), phul gobi (cauliflower), gajjar (carrot), piyaaz (onions), methi (fenugreek), karela (bitter gourd), channa daal, paneer (Indian farmer’s cheese), sliced cheddar cheese, cheeni (sugar) and gur (jaggery), all of which require better preparation and careful cooking. In general, if a vegetable sheds too much water, or the daal is too watery, then it is very difficult to make them into a decent parantha.

These days there are many varieties of ready-made paranthas available in the frozen foods section of grocery stores made by many well-known brands which have seen the huge market potential. Though these are wonderful conveniences, with a few exceptions (the more expensive cauliflower or mixed vegetable ones), the frozen variety use the stuffing – like ajwain (carom seed) or methi (fenugreek) – so sparingly that you may only get a slight hint of the taste, if at all! An ingredient that is seldom used in Punjabi paranthas (but available in the frozen variety) is pudina (mint), which is most often used to make the popular mint chutney (spicy dipping sauce), a condiment for dipping savory appetizers like pakoras fried vegetable fritters), samosas (fried stuffed dumplings), tikkas (pan roasted potato patties) and other spicy snacks.

As the mint plants were growing fast and plentiful in my garden, I harvested their huge leaves and put them aside thinking to make chutney with them. After I had washed, dried and cut them, I left them in the fridge for a day but when I took them out, I realized there was also some left over atta (dough) and suddenly thought I would make some pudina paranthas instead, which I have never tried before. The results were marvelous as my son Jawahar devoured the paranthas which came off the tava fluffed up and crispy with an oil coating! The difference from the frozen ones, he said, was that there was plenty of stuffing so that he could taste the minty flavor, as he ate them with plain yogurt.


• 500gm kanak (gehon) ka atta (wheat flour)
• 2 cups pudina (fresh mint leaves) – makes 8 paranthas
• 1 1/2 cups pani (water)
• Some tael (sunflower oil or vegetable oil) for coating the paranthas while cooking
• Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), ajawain (carom seeds), powdered anaar dana (pomegranate seed) or amchoor (green mango powder)


1. Carefully cut off the leaves, then wash them and spread them on a towel to let them dry
2. With a sharp knife, cut the leaves into shreds and set aside in a bowl.
3. Pour the atta into a bowl, then slowly pour only enough of the water in while kneading the dough till it becomes a nice, round, tender firm ball. Dab the surface of the dough ball with a little water to keep it moist, cover the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
4. Pinch off a portion of the dough and make into a 2 inch round ball. Pour a little dry flour on the counter and roll the ball in it to coat it. Make the dough into small paade (balls). Now use a velna (rolling pin) to roll the ball into a nice round, flat 8 to 10 inch pancake, about 1/8 inch thick.
5. Now place a tablespoon of the shredded mint in the center and sprinkle the salt, red pepper, ajwain, and anar dana or amchoor to taste.
6. Grab the edges to pinch off the dough into a ball. Carefully roll the ball into a flat pancake so that the pudina does not pierce the flour.
7. 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. When the paranthas have some dark brown spots on them, it means they are cooked.
8. Try these with a dollop of butter on the top of the warm parantha or with plain yogurt or achaar for best taste.



Mint is much adored herb that is used in many cuisines, in salads and even in ornamentation for fruit trays and there are many varieties. But all types of mint share three characteristics: they like filtered light, moist but not soggy soil and their roots can grow fast and spread fast. If left uncontrolled in a flower bed, it is not uncommon for mint to grown into a bush and completely take over the area.
For better control of the mint, and also to regulate the amount of water to use, try planting the mint in a large wide-mouthed pot. This will stop the spread of its roots and also make it grow tall faster. Also prune it often for better growth.


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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 (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 late-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.