Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Saada Punjabi Parantha (Plain Punjabi Crispy Flatbread)

Recipe 1in

Punjabi paranthas (crispy flatbread) are famous and loved the world over and found in most Indian restaurants. Though most places will serve a version of the plain parantha, they are seldom in the style of the home made parantha that most Punjabis have come to expect.

These days, it is even hard to find a Punjabi girl who has the skill to make a crispy, nicely cooked, thick plain parantha like the one that I learnt to make as a young girl in my ancestral home in Lyallpur. I still cook them this way, much to the delight of my sons and their families. I learned by sitting beside my mother and the other women from the extended family in the haveli (courtyard) of the home of my extended family. These days, even in India, most girls don’t have the time to learn or the patience to refine their cooking skills.

Apart from restaurants that make paranthas (often the cooks are Punjabis); ready-made ones are available in the frozen food section and all that is needed to heat them, sometimes in the microwave. This gives people even less motivation to learn to make the paranthas properly.

A true 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. Then the crispy side is coated with some butter or oil and served with food.

One last difference is that Punjabi paranthas do not need to be round: they can be made in the shape of a triangle or even a square. That depends on the way you make the balls of dough and how you roll them out. Usually people are surprised and pleased to receive these paranthas instead of just plain round ones.

Ingredients :    
500gm kanak (gehon) ka atta (wheat flour)
2 tbsp tael (olive oil or vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups pani (water)

1. Pour the flour into the bowl, then slowly pour only enough of the water in while kneading the dough till it becomes a nice, round, tender firm ball.
2. Dab the surface of the dough ball with a little water to keep it moist, cover the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. 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. Now use a velna (rolling pin) to roll the ball into a nice round, flat pancake, about 1/8 inch thick.
4. Gather the sides of the pancake and close off with your fingertips into a ball. Now roll the ball out again carefully into a pancake, smearing it with a little oil, and make sure the dough does not tear.
5. Place a tava (flat plate or flat skillet) on the stove and heat on medium. Now carefully place the flattened dough on the tava and spread a dab of oil around the circumference on the tava. When small brown spots appear, turn the parantha over and let it cook and use the oil again. When brown spots appear on this side, turn over and repeat till the parantha is lightly brown. The parantha should puff up a little when cooked on each side.
6. Remove the parantha and serve while warm with yogurt or achaa.



Indians love their fried foods like pakoras, samosas, kachoris, bhallas, gulab jamuns, puris and the like because these just taste so good with the right batter and masalas. But apart from the recipe, often people will either overcook and burn them or undercook them and leave them raw inside and the result can be disastrous and a terrible meal.

The basic rule for frying is to keep the oil set at the correct temperature. If it is too hot and you place the battered item in, then the outside will get brown very quickly but the inside will remain raw. If it is not hot enough, then the fried food will absorb too much of the oil before it gets fully cooked, creating a piece that will taste oily and ooze into your hands. It is best to test with a small amount of batter first and then start cooking.

mamas recipe inside3

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.