Parantha or call it paratha, is what most Punjabis begin their day with! Yes, a nicely made hot parantha, with or without filling, is the staple breakfast in Punjab. It comes from ‘parat’ meaning layers and ‘atta’ meaning dough – in short, layered dough. Of course, it is cooked lovingly on a hot tawa with a fair amount of ghee so that the layers are easily separated.
In case you wish to freeze them and use them on a rushed day, after rolling out the paranthas, wrap the paranthas in butter paper and keep them in the deep freezer. When required remove from the freezer and cook them on a tawa with ghee till crisp and golden. Alternatively, after rolling out the paranthas you can cook them till half done. Cool and wrap in butter paper and freeze. When required remove and roast on a hot tawa with a little ghee on both sides till crisp and golden.
The fun part with paranthas begins when you think of stuffing them with a variety of vegetables. It could be potatoes, cauliflower, radish, onion (to make the famed aloo parantha, gobhi parantha, mooli parantha, pyaaz ka parantha) or then you could go to the other end and fill it up with the contemporary mix of pizza sauce, cheese and capsicum. There is no limit to what can go in a stuffed parantha. It can also be leftover crumbled barfi or laddoo or even plain sugar! Or you could use mutton or chicken keema, or boiled eggs. With stuffed parathas it is easy to convert it into a meal: put a bit of butter, and a bowl of a raita or some pickles, and here you are, with a lovely nutritious meal.
To be more innovative, you could serve the paranthas in a round shape or square or triangular. To be able to stuff a larger amount of stuffing use the envelope technique which simply means you place the stuffing in the middle and then bring on the four ends in the shape of a envelope. Press the open edges lightly so as to seal them and roll out lightly. In fact, making the perfect stuffed paranthas needs a dough that is medium soft and well rested. The filling should be evenly rounded and neat. Take a portion of the dough slightly bigger than the portion of the filling. Roll out the dough into small disk and place filling inside. Now bring in the edges of the dough pleating the folds as you go along and collect all at the centre. Pinch off and remove all extra dough. Lightly press the sealing point and flatten the stuffed dough ball. Roll in the flour and using a very light hand roll out into the parantha of desired size and thickness.
Paranthas, as a staple in the meal, might belong originally to the northern parts of India, but it is little known that even South Indian cuisine uses its own version called porotta and it is a delicious crispy and flaky bread that is best served with rich curries. In Bihar you could get a sattu parantha, sattu being spiced roasted gram flour. When you eat out you will be familiar with the tandoori pudina parantha which comes with its crispy edges and many many layers all speckled with fragrant mint. To continue with the series, check out the different paranthas that we have here for you.
Lachchedar parantha Recipe
A plain layered parantha also called lachchedar parantha is easily made like this. Mix 1½ cups atta (whole wheat flour) and ½ cup maida and salt to taste in a bowl. Add a little water and about 3 tablespoons milk and knead into a dough. Cover and rest the dough for fifteen minutes. Divide the dough into equal portions and shape them into pedas. Roll the pedas in a little maida and roll into a roti. Spread a little pure ghee all over the surface of the roti, sprinkle a little dry flour. You can use oil instead of ghee if you so like. Make thin pleats and then twist into a round chakri. Tuck in the ends firmly. Let these chakris rest for about five minutes. Roll each chakri into a parantha. Heat a tawa, place the parantha over it and roast. Drizzle a little pure ghee and turn over. Drizzle some more pure ghee and roast till both the sides are crisp and golden. While serving gently crush the paranthas and serve hot with any gravy dish or with chutney or with pickle.