“You just want me to be fat and making parathas in the kitchen all day,” my mother would exclaim when my sister and I got into a little fight with her. You see, when my sister and I were teenagers my mother would often wear the same sort of clothes we wore and we would become incredibly annoyed. Maybe she was right in a way. We did want her to do more baking and wear ugly sweaters like everyone else’s moms. My mother always had a young spirit and had a young outer façade to match it. My sister and I have since gotten over our teenage qualms and are happy to have our mom raid our closet and vice versa.
She saw making parathas and rotis as the ultimate form of subservience, the sign of an unhappy woman. I know that it was a silly thing for her to think, regardless I developed the same sort of picture in my mind. When I got married, my mom said to me, “there’s no need to make roti everyday.” That was certainly not in my plan and I only attempted to make them two years after marriage. This was because I was inspired by of all the fabulous bakers and adventurous bloggers I came into contact with.
In stark contrast to my own mother is my mother-in-law. I only hinted at the prospect of trying to make rotis and she was back the same day with a tawa. She made sure to buy me atta and proceed on giving me a lesson in the art of making rotis. For indeed it is an acquired art, you can not master it at one go. When I went back to my own home, my mother-in-law would call and ask how the roti and paratha making was going. I would fib and say I tried and that my roti were not coming out round. These white lies were just to make her feel better, because she felt her son was being taken care of if he was receiving fresh roti and parathas.
One day, I bit the bullet and tried. I got over my preconceived notions and complexes related to roti and paratha making. My first few attempts were pathetic, a real blow to my self-esteem. I consider myself a decent cook and to fail so miserably at something so simple was embarrassing. My roti resembled and tasted like cardboard and I hadn’t even dived into the world of parathas yet. Thankfully, slowly but surely I got there and now I can confidently say that I can make roti and paratha.
This is not going to be a daily routine in my household though, a special biannual treat, if you will. After all, I am still my mother’s daughter and I am glad she raised me how she did.
for the dough:
2 1/2 cups Durum wheat flour, roti or chapati flour (I use Golden Temple)
3/4-1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
for the filling:
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
3 boiling potatoes, peeled and cubed into a medium dice
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
a few leaves of mint, chopped
green chilies, chopped (as many as you like, I used 2)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
pinch of ajwain (carom) seeds
red chili powder/cayenne pepper, to taste
crushed red chilies, to taste, optional
salt, to taste
canola or vegetable oil, for frying
Prepare the dough by kneading the flour and water together. Add the water a little at a time until the dough just comes together. You may not need all of the water. I knead by hand, but you can also do this in a food processor or stand mixer with the hook attachment.
Knead for about five minutes until the dough is firm yet elastic. Place the dough in a bowl and dab on some water over the dough so it doesn’t form a skin and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least a few hours in the fridge or on the counter if you are using it the same day.
Once ready to make the parathas, let the dough sit at room temperature for a few hours if it was in the fridge. The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To make the potato filling boil the potatoes in some cold water in a pot on medium to medium high heat until the potatoes are fork tender and easily mashed, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the water from the potatoes and mash them with a fork or potato masher. While the potatoes are boiling, toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry fry pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and coarsely grind them.
Next, add in the oil, onions, cilantro, green chilies, all the spices to the mashed potatoes and mix everything together. Set aside.
Now, you will have to roll out the dough. Separate the dough into eight even-sized balls. You will need two balls per one paratha. Roll each ball out so that is is smooth with no seams. Next, flatten out the ball with you hand so that it becomes a small circle. Put your thumb at the center of the circle and press your fingers at the edges of the circle as to expand the circle. Press your fingers all around and rotate the circle until it starts getting bigger. At this point, use a rolling-pin to roll out a circle with a 6 inch diameter. For each paratha you will need two 6 inch diameter circles.
Place 1/2 a cup of the potato filling over one 6 inch diameter circle, leaving an inch free all around. Place the second dough circle on top and using your fingers pinch the edges shut. Using your rolling pin, roll out the paratha until it approximately has a 10 inch diameter.
Heat your tawa, griddle, or frying pan to medium heat and place the paratha on the warm surface. Let the paratha cook like this for a minute or two then flip it over and using a pastry brush, brush on about a tablespoon of oil on the top of the paratha. Flip it again so that the oiled side is at the bottom. Grease the top with another tablespoon of oil. Once the bottom has turned golden brown, about 2-3 minutes flip it over and brown the other side. Once both sides are golden brown remove from the heat and repeat the process until the dough is finished.
Serve with raita, achar, or green chutney. I particularly like paratha with shami kebabs.