Perfect Parathas

Punjabi parathas: you don’t need a tava, they come out just as good with a cast-iron frying pan.



11 responses to “Perfect Parathas

  1. These looks absolutely perfect.

    I have just about managed to get my chapati right, also using a cast iron skillet which worked beautifully.

  2. Btw, tava is a frying pan in Croatian. I wonder if there’s any linguistic link here… Probably…

  3. Do you throw your chapatties on the fire to puff them up? That always impresses my dinner guests. Madhur Jaffrey says they puff up just as well if you blast them in a microwave for a few seconds but I have never tried it.

  4. I did try doing that, but got them a bit burnt, so I stopped. I tried the microwave, too. Again, tipped off by the good old Madhur. I was in a bit of a hurry tonight so I didn’t ponce around much. In any case, I think there’s still space for improvement in my chappati making! how do you do yours?

    In one of Yamuna Devi’s books, I read that she uses a bent metal hanger (!) and puts the chappati onto it and over the flame so the flatbreads don’t get burnt. It’s basically like a chappati holder. I think I’ll try that.

  5. I grill one side over very high heat in a dry frying pan till it blisters up, then slap it directly onto the fire next to it. My guests are always impressed when I do it with my bare hands, as they aren’t to know my fingertips are covered in a fine layer of dough so are nicely insulated!
    For me the critical parts are wiping the pan clean after each chapatti with kitchen paper, sifting the atta and making the dough as loose (i.e., with lots of water) as possible.
    When I was in Mumbai the Muslim kabaab-wallahs at the stall outside my hotel used dough so watery that they didn’t even use a rolling pin, just flinging the dough from hand to hand, faster than the eye can see, till it was only a couple of millimetres thick, and a perfect round shape to boot!

  6. Thanks for the fantastic tips! I was beginning to think that lots of water is important. A few days ago, I made a dough that was so wet that I could barely roll it, and the rotis were perfect. I think I also sifted the flour. Yesterday, I used less water, and was wondering whether the dough was getting a bit dry.

    I’ll try putting the rotis on the flames like you suggested, too. I was ****ing myself (excuse my French) before I made bharta for the first time. I thought I was going to burn the place down! But all went well, of course.

  7. How much do you knead your rotis, btw?

  8. Obviously great minds think alike; I was just yesterday thinking about trying my hand at a bharta. Is it easy cleaning up afterwards, or is the saucepan you used basically smoked for ever?

    As for roti flour, I hardly knead it at all. I kind of fold the sifted flour into the water (poured into the middle of the flour) with a rubber spatula, rather in the fashion of making the dough for a western cake, until it is basically homogenous. But for breads that contain oil or ghee like parathas or shirmal, I make sure to knead the dough thoroughly, and also rest it (wrapped in clingffilm) in the fridge for 30 minutes or even overnight.

  9. I used a recipe from Flavours of India (where she Madhur a section on Punjabi food), and cooked the aubergine on an open gas fire. You can do it in the oven, but you don’t get the smoky flavours. It was very easy to clean, actually. Only a few splodges from aubergine juices and that’s it.

    You first cook the aubergine like this, and then add it to a paste of browned onion and tomato (cooked until the oil oozes out). Cook for a bit more for the flavours to blend. Sprinkle with coriander. Devour with pleasure.

    I keep it pretty simple, with only a touch of garam masala sometimes. (though I haven’t done it in ages because the aubergine is not in season at the moment)

    And the danger? It really is not half as bad as it sounds. The first time I cooked this, I watched it like a hawk, but after I realised I wasn’t going to burn my home down, I relaxed. Still, be watchful and careful if you cook it on the gas hob.

    Thanks for all your roti tips! They’re really useful and helpful! I’m fairly new to roti making, and learning along the way.

  10. I have made a similar dish to yours, but the bharta that I was planning on was the one with an extra step where you put a small saucer of ghee in the saucepan with your cooked aubergines, and then pop a hot coal (or red hot-heated spoon, or piece of ceramic) into it and jam the lid on, ‘smoking’ the aubergines. Have you tried this?

  11. No, but it sounds like fun!

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