Bread products are universal across all cultures and cuisines. Indian cuisine is no different, and there are certainly plenty of baked goods to go along with the curries and tandoori. One of them is Paratha. It is a flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent, prevalent throughout the modern-day nations of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Malaysia, and many more where wheat is the traditional staple. Paratha is an amalgamation of the words parat and atta, which literally means layers of cooked dough. Its flaky texture comes from repeated layering and rolling during the production method, and is very similar to making puff pastry.
What is the origin of Pratha?
It is unclear as to the exact date when paratha was first made. However, we can find references in various books and scholarly papers that variously date the recipe to between 1000-1526 AD.
People acknowledge that parathas originated from Peshawar and that originally, they consist of sweet fillings, and are commonly sold by street vendors. The shape we recognize today has largely stayed the same, with a small number of variations taking place around the 12th Century. In this way, we can say that parathas are associated with Punjabi and North Indian cooking.
Types of Paratha
Basically, there are 2 types of Parathas–plain parathas and stuffed parathas. The plain parathas consist of only dough and ghee. Whereas, stuffed parathas consist of stuffed veggies, potatoes, or meat as a person likes.
The different types of famous parathas are:
- Aloo paratha (stuffed with spicy boiled potato and onions mix),
- Gobi paratha (stuffed with flavored cauliflower),
- Chili paratha (small, spicy shredded pieces),
- Roti paratha (Singapore).
Here I present you 2 paratha recipes where one of them is my own.
1. Plain or layered paratha
Plain Paratha (Parantha) is a yummy triangle-shaped Indian flat bread made of whole-wheat flour. There are various types of parathas that one can prepare e.g with filling of aloo, gobi, paneer, etc. However, it’s the basic plain parantha that rules the roost. If you are a novice cook, then this recipe will help you make it like a pro. And if you are a cooking expert, then you will be amazed at how the addition of cumin seeds simply transforms its taste of it.
- 1¼ cup Wheat Flour
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 2 teaspoons Oil
- 1/2 cup Water
Mix 1¼ cup wheat flour, cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon oil, and salt in a medium-size bowl to prepare a dough.
Add water in small incremental quantities and knead the smooth and soft dough like chapati dough. Grease its surface with 1 teaspoon oil and cover it. Keep it aside for 10 minutes to let it settle at room temperature.
Divide it into 6 equal parts and give each part a round shape (like a small ball). Take one dough ball, and flatten it like a pattie by pressing it between your palms or against roti making board. Take 1/2 cup dry wheat flour on a plate. Coat the pattie with dry wheat flour (dry flour coating will prevent it from sticking to a rolling pin and board).
Put dough pattie on roti making board and roll it out like a very thick small roti using a rolling pin (circle of approx. 4-5 inch diameter).
Spread a few drops of oil and dust flour on the top surface and fold them into a half-circle. Again, spread a few drops of oil and dust flour on it and again fold into a triangle-shaped layered pattie.
Coat it with dry flour and roll it out into a triangle paratha having approx 6 inch long sides. Also, it should be thicker than a roti but thinner than tandoori roti/naan.
Place it on a hot tava/griddle and cook over medium flame. When tiny bubbles start to rise on the surface, flip it and reduce the flame to low.
Spread 1/2 teaspoon oil evenly on the surface and cook on low flame for approx 30-40 seconds.
Flip it again and spread 1/2 teaspoon oil evenly on another side. Press it with a spatula and cook over medium flame for 30-40 seconds. Repeat the flip-press-cook process until golden brown spots appear on both sides.
Finally, take it away from heat and transfer it to a plate. Spread butter as per your liking. Follow the same process for the remaining dough balls. Serve it with curd and pickle
Tips and Variations:
- If you are learning and making it for the first time, then we suggest making circular-shaped parathas rather than triangular shapes because rolling our former one is a bit easier than the latter one. The dough-making and cooking processes remain the same.
- Use only maida (all-purpose flour) or an equal amount of maida and wheat flour for variation.
- To make softer Indian paranthas, either uses milk instead of water or add 1-tablespoon curd while preparing the dough.
2. Aloo paratha
Aloo paratha is a yummy stuffed paratha dish that incorporates that ingredient that is a famous staple in so many cultures: the potato. is extremely easy to make and is great for breakfast or as a snack. This simple recipe makes four parathas. Here is my own personal recipe on how to make aloo paratha.
- 4 boiled potatoes, peeled and mashed.
- Salt to taste
- Zeera powder
- Red chili powder to taste
- 1 onion very finely diced (optional)
- 2 cups wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon oil (vegetable preferred)
- 4 tablespoons butter
Firstly, knead the dough with 1⁄2 tablespoon oil and a sufficient amount of water. The dough should be a little tougher than your average pizza dough.
Secondly, keep the dough aside for 1/2 an hour or an hour.
To your boiled and mashed potatoes, add all the dry spices, the finely chopped onions, and salt. Mash it so that there are no lumps. Ensure that your potato mash is not watery.
On your kitchen board, sprinkle a little dry flour. Make balls of the dough you had kneaded.
Roll one ball at a time into a thick small circle and place the potato mash in the center.
Fold the edges inwards as you do in a dumpling, ensuring that you do not expose the filling.
Roll this dumpling so that it becomes a proper round again.
Sprinkle some dry flour on the ball and the board. Place the ball, down, and with your rolling pin, gently press to make a plus sign.
Very gently roll the ball into a flat not too thin circle. Keep in mind that the stuffing should not come out.
Heat a skillet to medium temperature. Grease it with butter, then cook both the sides of the paratha, by flipping it over, so that the sides brown properly.
Finally, your paratha is ready to eat. Serve it with a pickle (Indian), yogurt, or just a dab of butter! Excellent to beat the cold.
Tips and Variations:
- You can also add as many spices as you like to the stuffing. Some famous aloo stuffing spices are garam masala, coriander powder, ginger paste, and ajwain.
- You can also make the paratha in a pizza style by placing the stuffing between 2 thinly rolled doughs.
Pratha vs Naan
At first, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of differences between the two. Naan is a type of flatbread, and so is paratha. Both of them are breakfast foods. In order to gain a better understanding of how these 2 types of bread differ simply take a look below.
Naan bread contains yeast whereas paratha does not contain any yeast. This means that naan bread is a leavened type of flatbread whereas paratha is an unleavened type of flatbread.
The other difference to note is that naan bread is cooked using yogurt whereas paratha does not contain any yogurt. Furthermore, paratha is prepared using whole wheat whereas naan is made using refined wheat.
Naan bread is cooked in a tandoor, oven, or stove whereas paratha is cooked on a stove only. Paratha is cooked on a stove since it has to be fried.
Furthermore, when cooking paratha, it is rolled more than once to create flaky bread whereas naan is only rolled once and placed into the oven or on the stove.
Paratha is flaky, chewy, and denser as compared to naan bread which is soft and a bit chewy. This is mainly due to the differences in cooking methods as well as ingredients.
Naan bread is healthier as compared to paratha. This is mainly because it is low in fats. Paratha contains a lot of fat because it is cooked with either ghee or butter and the fact that it is fried bread actually makes it less healthy when compared to naan.
Paratha vs Roti
Indian cuisine incorporates great variety in the types of dishes it offers. Roti and Paratha are just two of the myriad delicacies that are available. Both are types of Indian flatbreads that are often an accompaniment to savory soups, gravies, and other dishes. In order to gain a better understanding of how these 2 types of bread differ simply take a look below.
The key difference between paratha and roti is that paratha can be plain or stuffed with various stuffings like potatoes onions ghee and many more but roti is typically not stuffed.
Furthermore, roti is very simple and doesn´t have any layers. Whereas, parathas are thicker in size and can have multiple layers. Also, the paratha is basically fried with oil, butter, or ghee, whereas roti is cooked without these things.
Roti is more of a generic term. Therefore, it represents almost the entirety of the Indian flatbreads. There are many various types of roti, which is why there is so much confusion regarding it.
In fact, this is almost the same process to make a paratha as well. However, it includes a few additional steps. Once the dough is rolled out, it needs to be oiled (or butter or ghee if preferred) and then folded in half.
The paratha is an important part of a traditional breakfast from the Indian subcontinent. Traditionally, it is made using ghee but oil is also used. Some people may even bake it in the oven for health reasons. Side dishes that go very well with paratha are curd, fried egg, omelet, mutton kheema (ground mutton cooked with vegetables and spices), nihari (a lamb dish), jeera aloo (potatoes lightly fried with cumin seeds), daal, raita as part of a breakfast meal. It may be stuffed with potatoes, paneer, onions, or chili peppers.
The plain paratha recipe from above was taken from foodviva.
You can also read our article the croissant if you want to read more articles on breakfast foods.