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  • Aloo ka Paratha

    YIELD: 11 (6-INCH / 15-CM) PARATHAS
    TOOLS: You’ll need a large mixing bowl; a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan; a rolling pin; a plate; a platter; and a tava, cast-iron frying pan, or flat griddle.
    TIPS: The key to successful flatbreads is using a clean pan. As dry flour falls from the bread, it collects on the pan and burns. Avoid this by cleaning the pan out after every 3 parathas you make. I use a dry paper towel and carefully wipe the pan clean over the sink.

    Parathas are the quintessential North Indian breakfast dish—savory and spicy at once. The best way to eat them is with a dollop of butter and a little bowl of yogurt sweetened with brown sugar or with some achaar (spicy pickle). My children have been raised on these, which are essentially roti stuffed with everything imaginable. This recipe is likely the most popular paratha, one stuffed with spiced potatoes, and my recipe is dedicated to my Omi uncle in Delhi. When I first made them for him over a decade ago and asked him how they were, he answered honestly: “Not so good.” Thanks for the incentive to get it right, Uncle!

    • 4 medium russet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 small yellow or red onion, minced
    • 2–3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, finely chopped
    • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon amchur (dried mango powder)
    • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • ¼ cup /5 g kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), lightly hand crushed to release flavor
    • 1 batch uncooked Roti dough
    • ½ cup /70 g chapati flour (atta), for rolling dough
    • Vegetable oil, as needed for frying
    • 1 teaspoon butter or vegan margarine, for serving (optional)
    • 1 small bowl of yogurt sweetened with brown sugar, for serving (optional)
    • Achaar (spicy pickle), for serving (optional)
    1. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
    2. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm the oil. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from the heat.
    3. Add the contents of the sauté pan to the bowl containing the potatoes. Add the fresh chiles, red chile powder, amchur, Garam Masala, salt, and kasoori methi. Stir, preferably using your hands, until well combined. I prefer to stir with my hands to make sure the potatoes are thoroughly mashed and not lumpy, as chunks of potato will break through the dough when you stuff the parathas. If you want to avoid touching the chiles, you can use a large spoon or fork instead, or just wear kitchen gloves. Set aside.
    4. Pull off a golf ball-sized chunk (2 tablespoons) of the Roti dough and roll it between your palms until it is as round as possible. The rounder and smoother you can get the dough ball at this point, the better your results will be later, when you’re rolling it out. If it is too sticky to work with easily, roll the ball lightly on a plate containing the dry chapati flour. The trick to making perfectly moist paratha is to use the dry flour sparingly. If you use too much, the paratha will dry out when cooked.
    5. Press the ball between your palms until it is slightly flattened. Place it on a dry, lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin, 5-inch / 13-cm disc. If you can’t get it down, and the dough sticks to the surface while rolling, just pick it up, dip it very lightly in the dry flour on both sides, and roll it out again.
    6. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the potato filling in the middle of the dough disc. Fold the sides of the dough inward so they meet in the middle and press the edges together, essentially forming a square. Place the dry chapati flour on a plate and dredge the square of stuffed dough in the flour.
    7. Place the square of stuffed dough on the lightly floured work surface and roll it into a thin 6-inch/ 15-cm disc. It may not be perfectly round, and some of the filling might come through slightly, but that’s OK.
    8. Repeat the process until you have made 11 parathas and placed them on a platter.
    9. Warm an ungreased tava, flat griddle, or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. The key is to heat the pan enough that the paratha will cook, but not so hot that it will sear as soon as you lay it in the pan.
    10. Carefully place 1 paratha flat in the hot pan. Cook for 30 seconds and turn it over. This step is critical to making really delicious parathas. They will look like they’re just about to cook through but still a little raw. Cook on the other side for 30 seconds. I’ve been perfecting my paratha recipe for years, and find that cooking for 30 seconds on both sides first makes for softer paratha later.
    11. Lightly oil the side of the paratha that is facing up. Turn it over and immediately lightly oil the other side. Cook, turning once to ensure even cooking, for a total of 2 minutes, until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving platter.
    12. Repeat Steps 10 and 11 until you have cooked all the parathas, making sure to clean out the pan after every 3 parathas you prepare. Remove from the heat.
    13. Serve immediately with the butter, sweetened yogurt, or achaar (spicy pickle), if using

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.