Dal(Lentil) paratha/flat bread is something which I learned from my grandmother. My grandparents lived only a few minutes away from our home. And it would be often that my grandpa would walk by with a bag of hot, freshly made parathas and a bunch of flowers for me.
The recipe had been handed down to my mom and then I started making them. Everytime as the smell wafts aound the house I remember my grandma & my mom (none of them are with me today) and all the childhood memories. But even now I like hers the very very best.
Be it during large family get togethers or some festive ocassions, I remember her sitting by the old Indian style clay coal oven ( no she did not have gas stoves at that time..), rolling them, filling them and then frying them on a black cast iron skillet,and stacking the parathas making a tall heap on her side. I could see the red glowing coals under the skilet. The heat of the burning coal felt so good during the chilly winter nights. Sometimes I would sit by her and cup my little palms, and ask for the dal filling. The intense flavor of hing/asafoetida combined with the ajwain, ginger and red chilli contributes to the sensational, spicy & mouthwatering taste of these parathas. There could not be a more perfect combination.
I eat the crumbly warm filling just by itself even now. My grandmother’s parathas would be so thin & flaky and yet no holes in them as if her nimble hands had some magic in them. Food would be served, and I would see the glitter in everyone’s eyes, the exclaimations..”Oh!! dal parathas..!” & soon they would be all gone. We would also frequently carry these whenever we would be travelling by train. They are dry and easy to eat and did not require any special storage other than just wrapping them up and then serving them on paper plates.
The dal/lentil used here is the Chana Dal, which is the Bengal grams/Black Chickpea husked & split into half. Chana dal or Cholar Dal as it is called in Bengal, is very popular not only in West Bengal but all over India. It is prepared in various different ways, just by itself as a dish, or with vegetables of even meat. Ajwain has a sharp hot taste on the tongue when crushed and it is most often used with lentils as the seeds have excellent digestive properties. Dal/Lentil/Legume is high protein, so this Dal paratha is a wholesome nutritious meal by itself. Serve them with any side or just by themselves with salad & yogurt/or Raita… this will cool off the heat of the parathas.
- 1.5 cup – Chana dal (Husked Bengal Grams)
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 teaspoon Ajwain/Carom Seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
3 teaspoon Red chili powder/Red chilli flakes (adjust the amount to your taste)
1/4 teaspoon Hing/Asafoetida
1.5 tablespoon of oil
Salt to taste
2 cup – Whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons Ajwain/Carom Seeds
1 tablespoon Oil / Ghee
A small pinch of baking soda
Water to knead
- Thick bottomed Skillet or a cast iron skillet
Wash and soak chana dal for 2 to 3 hours. Add salt & turmeric & 2 cups water and simmer it in a covered pan till they are soft & most of the water is gone.
Alternatively, you can pressure cook it. Add 3/4 cup of water and bring the cooker to full pressure and after the 3rd whistle, switch the heat off. Open the cooker only when cool.
Crush the ajwain in the palm of your hands. These releases the flavor of the seeds.
Heat oil in a pan. Add the hing/asafoetida, Cumin, Ajwain/Carom Seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the Dal/Lentil, ginger paste, sugar & red chilli powder. Fry while stirring often ( so it does not stick to the bottom), till the dal/lentil is of crumbly texture and all the water has dried up. Keep the filling aside.
Mix wheat flour, oil/ghee, baking soda, Ajwain/carom seeds(again rub the seeds in the palms of your hand, or crush it with a rolling pin) and salt. Mix the oil in to form lumps/thick crumbs. Then add water little by little, knead and make a stiff dough. Cover with a towel & rest the dough for 30 minutes.
Rolling out the breads:
Make small balls of the dough. Take one dough ball and roll it out with a rolling pin to a 4″ diameter. Take about 1.5 tablespoon of filling and place in the center of the rolled out dough.
Bring together all the sides in the centre and seal tightly.
Dust some flour and then lightly flatten the dough with hand. With a rolling pin, roll out carefully to make a circle about 7″ diameter.
Cook on a griddle using a little oil, on medium heat. Flip and cook evenly on both sides, till it has golden brown spots on both sides.
Enjoy these for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a side or just with a bowl full of salad and yogurt/raita.
Sending this to Think Spice: Think Carom started by Sunita & hosted this time by the Singing Chef, My Legume Love Affair: Sixth Helping – Hot & Spicy hosted by Suganya of Tasty Palettes, originally started by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook, & to Winter Treats hosted by Trupti.
Parathas could be served with: