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I made paratha! unbeliever paratha . . .

So, I was watching the reruns of Bittman Takes On, and the restauranteer made paratha, a stuffed Indian bread. Fabulous! And ridiculously easy. 2 cups of flour, a bit of salt and enough water to make it come together. Knead for five minutes and let it rest a moment. I used whole wheat flour = very heavy. I'll go with a mix of white and wheat in the future.
The show did a spiced ground lamb stuffing, but I had pork so . . . nobody in India would be eating *my* paratha. I spiced it with hot smoked paprika, fennel seed mortared, and salt.

You divide the dough into balls, roll out into circles, put in the filling and draw up the purse, like a giant dimsum, then roll it out thin again - thin being a third of an inch thick. Stuffed bread, super easy! Then cook it on a griddle, first dry, then with a bit of oil or ghee.

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  1. Thank you for this.
    I'm definitely going to give it a try.

    1. This sounds great! I don't think I've ever eaten it, but it sounds like an easy fun meal.

      Two questions-- no leaven in the bread mix? and, do you cook the meat first, or does it just cook as you cook the bread... and if so, how long did you cook it? Was it greasy? Okay, one more question-- how many did this recipe make?

      Thanks for sharing this!

      1. I've made a version with potatoes and peas that is also awesome. You can't beat any form of stuffed bread!

        1. 2 cups of flour made four parathas, the size of a taco sized tortilla. One per person is plenty. It's a great heavier app for a lighter meal -- we had ceasar salad after.

          I did *not* cook the meat in advance - the bread is under 1/2" thick, so it cooks through pretty quickly on the griddle. I was using a cast iron comal, but anything that gets hot would do. On the show they didn't cook the meat, but in the linked recipe they do. I'm convinced it is utterly unneccessary.

          No idea on the actual cooking time: let's say under 10 minutes . You flip it a couple times (every 2-3 minutes) not letting any serious browning happen. To my mind, that's when the meat gets cooked. For the last pass, I put a little oil, to get the fried look and feel. I didn't want it very oily, although I understand some cooks fry it the whole time.

          No leavening in the bread -- just flour water and salt. It's a flat bread. A recipe I looked at afterwards suggested giving a half hour rise. I kneaded it by hand in a bowl, watching tv -- it came together very quickly. The link below suggests a food processor, but I don't think it's worth the washing up time. But then, I was doing a small amount.

          I found a link for the show, but the fun part for me was watching it on tv and just making it with what I had on hand and not bothering to look at the recipe. It's a great technique.

          Aggressively seasoning whatever goes inside is the key - mine wasn't salty enough, so I salted them after cooking.
          I am going to try one with carmelized onions and mashed potato next . . .

          1. Aloo paratha was a favorite brunch in our house growing up. My mom never made the meat filled ones, but they are also delicious. The Aloo (potato) filled ones basically use a samosa filling rolled up in the dough exactly the way you describe. The filling variations could be endless. I've never tried to make them on my own, but you've brought back fond memories. I may have to experiment.

            1. I wonder how they'd be with chick pea flour, or a mix of AP and chick pea . . .
              which Indian breads use chick pea flour?

              1. Thank you, Pitu! I am going to give this a whirl this weekend, it sounds like something my family would really go for. And thanks MAH, for the potato suggestion. My family likes samosa filling so much that I make it as a potato salad (can't be frying things all the time, sigh). This paratha version sounds as though it is a good alternative.

                1. I've made the parathas in Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, and they're great! They also freeze really well, so I've made big batches of small ones, then stacked and froze them, and pulled them out when I've made or bought Indian food.

                  1. Okay, I made parathas this weekend. Yummm. I followed the recipe linked by pitu, involving cooking the lamb filling first. I think cooking it enabled some of the grease to be left in the pan, not in the paratha, so I'm in favor of precooking. I had some samosa filling on hand from an earlier meal, so I stuffed half the paratha with potato filling.

                    Here's what happened. It was all delicious, and we gobbled it down. But the lamb ones worked better, partly because the filling was smoother. The large chunks of potato meant that the bread didn't fold as well, and there were kind of tough parts of thick bread.

                    Overall, I wasn't thrilled with the bread consistency, it seemed a bit tough. Did I over knead? Or do something else wrong? (use too little oil?)

                    I'm going to make a foray to Devon Avenue and buy two or three or four versions of paratha from restaurants for dinner one night this week, so that I can compare and get a clearer idea of what I am aiming for. (Purely in the interests of science.)

                    This is making me very happy... I did the same with pho last summer, tried about six or seven restaurant versions eventually. Made some at home, but it is quite a production, and it's so cheap and easy to get from a restaurant, it doesn't seem worth it to make on a regular basis. Though cooking it at home made me feel that I understood what I was eating more thoroughly.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Anne H

                      what kind of flour did you use? Mine were tough too -- all whole wheat flour.
                      Delicious, but tough! I'll do half wheat and half white next time.
                      And I'm still wondering about chick pea flour for this use...

                      and yeah! glad y'all trying it out

                      1. re: pitu

                        I didn't have any wheat flour, so I used all white. I'm thinking maybe the mix is essential... I'll try that next. Why chick pea flour, pitu?

                        Yes, I should have smashed the potatoes.

                        Bought aloo paratha from our favorite Indian restaurant last night, purely in the interests of science. They used much less filling than I did. The bread was more tender, but the texture was still a little elastic (not quite tough), but not objectionably so. Also, theirs was bigger than a dinner plate... I'm not even going to try that!

                        So what is the meat filled paratha called, and why did none of the restaurant menus that I looked at have it? Is there a particular region where this is served?

                        Dosas, oakjoan! I'm impressed that you even tried! I'd love to try this. More fieldwork is called for first, though; I wonder how many restaurants on Devon serve dosas, and how many my teenage son and I could share before we burst... All in the name of science.

                        1. re: Anne H

                          'cause I like chick pea flour! : )
                          and I know it's used in Indian cooking
                          and I like the idea of a whole food (since it's not a grain really) but the whole wheat really is too tough
                          and 'cause the Italian flat bread I make out of chick pea flour is so tasty!
                          (there's a thread around here somewhere about that already "farinata")

                          1. re: Anne H

                            If you want it flakier, you should fold it, brush with oil and roll it out a couple times before you put in the filling - kind of like scallion pancakes.

                          2. re: pitu

                            I used white whole wheat and was very satisfied. I actually just made the flatbread, unstuffed, and it was very much enjoyed by all. Thank you, pitu, for posting such an easy and yummy recipe!

                        2. Anne H and Pitu have inspired me as well! Thank yous to both.

                          What about smooshing the potatoes a bit more so that the chunks are smaller. Nothing worse than that tough bread stuff. Believe me, I know it well, having created it while attempting nan, parathas, and bajhi (is this the correct spelling?).

                          I know that if a djin gave me 3 wishes, one would be to have the ability to make dhosas - that crispy pancake has always eluded me.

                          Tomorrow night I've got a leek and potato soup planned...and now parathas are going to be on the menu as well. Thanks again!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: oakjoan

                            When I make potato paratha, I smash the potatoes (almost as if they were mashed, but a little more lumpy). I also smash peas in with them.

                            Yum, now I'm going to have to make some again!

                            1. re: QueenB

                              Sorry, I should have mentioned this. The filling for aloo paratha is similar to samosa filling, but more mashed, so as not to create big lumps in the rolled out bread. My mom's paratha filling was also spiced slightly differently -- less onion, a bit hotter and more tart.

                              the meat filled paratha is likely listed on restaurant menus as Keema paratha.

                              I'm not sure that chickpea flour would work. It is normally used in batters for fried snacks, but i'm not aware of any flatbreads that incorporate besan. The consistency is different. I'd use chapati flour to make parathas, which is essentially a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flours. I agree that all wheat flour would make it quite tough.