Aloo Parantha happens to be one of the most popular unleavened flat-breads in the Indian subcontinent – crisp and golden on the the outside, the bread is generously stuffed with spiced potatoes, cooked on the skillet and served right away! Aloo Parantha is rich, scrumptious and to some extent a comfort food.
A parantha/paratha is an Indian unleavened flat-bread, and is mostly consumed in the northern regions of India. The word Paratha (Parantha in Punjab) is an amalgamation of the words parat = layers and atta= flour and which obviously combines to mean layers of cooked flour. Paranthas are consumed with meal on a daily basis, crisped and browned on the outside, while the inside would surprise you with almost transparent, paper thin and soft layers.
The Aloo Parantha is merely a variation or deviation, (whatever way you may want to see it ) of a basic parantha. Here the parantha is stuffed with savory fillings of potatoes and herbs. Stuffed parathas are common in India and the stuffing may vary from vegetables like potatoes, cauliflowers, spinach etc to paneer (Indian cheese) and even minced meat.
The traditional way to have the Aloo Parantha would be with a big dollop of fresh homemade butter on a stack and with some yogurt and spicy pickles on the side. And the best way to enjoy these paranthas are in good company, laughter and someone serving these hot on the plate straight from the skillet!
There are certain things one should keep in mind while making Aloo Paranthas. The spices and herbs I have used here may be substituted ; feel free to use herbs and spices you like to flavor the stuffing. The traditional way they are cooked on the skillet are my using ghee. But if you looking for a low fat version, you can cook them without any ghee/oil. I do these some times, and then smear a little bit of ghee/butter on the hot parathas right after they are done cooking. This way they are not dry and you are using 1/2 a teaspoon of fat in place of 2 teaspoons.
It is best to cook the potatoes in a way where they would be least watery. I steam mine in a pressure cooker, where there would be no direct contact with water. If you are boiling them directly, make sure to drain off as much water as possible. Boil them skin on and peel them later.
Aloo Parantha – Potato Stuffed Flatbread
Ingredients: (makes about 16-18 breads)
For the filling:
- 8-10 medium potatoes, boiled & drained, or steamed until tender
- 1.5 teaspoons fennel seeds, roughly ground with mortar and pestle
- red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- green hot pepper,very thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon oil
For the dough:
- 3 heap full cups whole wheat flour or atta/chapati atta (available in Indian Groceries)
- 1 + 3/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon oil
Ghee, butter or oil to fry the bread – about 2 teaspoons for each paratha
Flour/atta for rolling and dusting
Peel and mash the boiled potatoes as smooth as you can.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil and add the garam masala, ground fennel and thinly sliced hot peppers to the pan. Stir them around for about half a minute. Add the mashed potatoes, salt, ginger, red chili powder if you are using and toss everything together so that that fried spices combine with the potatoes. Mash the potatoes while cooking with the back of wooden spoon or potato masher. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Finish it off by adding the chopped cilantro/coriander and switch off the heat. Set aside and let cool completely.
To make the dough:
Combine the salt and the flour. Gradually add the water,and oil and make a dough (bread like) with the flour and knead for about 5-7 minutes.
If you need to adjust water, or add dry wheat flour, do so. It needs to be a not very sticky, but pliable and smooth dough.
Make a ball and coat the ball of dough with the teaspoon of oil. This prevents the surface of the dough to dry out and get hard. Store in a covered container or with a kitchen towel.
Filling, rolling and cooking:
Divide the filling to about 20 portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Divide the dough into 16-18 portions. Roll each portion into a sphere and gently flatten them between your palms.
Dust the sphere with flour. Roll out a flattened portion into approximately 3 inch diameter circle.
Place one portion of the cooked potato in the center of the rolled out circle;
gather the sides of the dough to the top like a pouch. Press and seal the pouch just above where the filling is and tear off the extra dough of the pouch from the top. (Save these extra dough and later you can roll them out again and fill and make extra bread if you have filling left over.)
Flatten the sealed dough, roll it in ample flour and gently roll it out to 5-6 inch diameter. Use enough flour to prevent making holes. If a hole happens (which might), just take a pinch of the extra dough and fill it up as if it never happened. The smooth rolling without making holes takes practice as the cooked potato is soft and mushy inside and the parantha has to be rolled out as slim as possible. If the dough stick while rolling, sprinkle more flour.
Roll out, fill and re roll each dough in the same way as above.
Heat a skillet. A cast iron one works best. The skillet should be hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle and dry off right away.
Place a rolled parantha on the hot skillet. After a few seconds, you will see the bread puff in different places and the side touching the skillet will have light brown spots. When this happens, flip the parantha over. Drizzle about 1-2 teaspoons of oil/ghee on the parantha and some on the skillet; you will see the bread puff up right away. Lower the heat a bit and press down on the parantha at different place with the spatula. Cook and flip if needed, till they bread is golden brown on both sides and has brown spots.
Cook all the paranthas in the same way as above and cool them in a wire rack or serve them hot as you cook them!
Stack them up and top them lavishly with butter -
Serve with raita/yogurt and/or pickle. Enjoy!