I have been busy making rather a lot of paratha recently. For those of you who are unfamiliar with paratha, they are basically unleavened Indian flat bread which is stuffed with all manner of, mostly, savory Indian delights. It started at the weekend when I had a good friend over for lunch and then, as I had prepared too much filling, I decided to make another batch today. I thought it would be fun to prepare with said friend as we could roll, fill and fry whilst catching up on each others news. Vietnamese spring rolls are also perfect little offerings to prepare with a friend as they are enjoyable to create and even better to gorge on once they have been cooked. I tell you communal prep is definitely the way forward! My friend made a great sous chef with all her fine chopping and grating skills.
As you know I have a weak spot for unloved/unusual vegetables so I decided to fill these paratha with mooli. ‘Mooli’ I hear you all saying. ‘What on earth is that’? Well it’s basically a white radish which is used a lot in Indian and Filipino cooking. It looks like this:
I was introduced to it fairly recently on a trip to my asian grocers/market. I asked a dear old boy how he cooks it, so he spun off his mooli curry recipe, which I tried and loved – I will post it here soon I promise. So when I decided on making some paratha I thought stuffing it with mooli would be rather tasty and a little different. It does taste exactly like a radish, so the taste within a paratha is not overwhelmingly strong or dominant – instead taking on a more subtle flavour. Mixed with some fresh green chilli and coriander you have a perfect filling for your paratha.
Making the paratha itself is very easy indeed. You need to get hold of some brown chapati flour, which any Indian food store will sell. Mix it with a little water and oil, then knead the dough for a short while and then let it rest, covered, for around half an hour. Meanwhile your sous chef/friend is given the job of grating the mooli, chopping the coriander and fresh green chilli and combining the ingredients with a little garam masala. Please note you do not need to use a whole mooli – half or just less than – will be more than adequate if you are wanting to make 8 paratha.
After the dough has had time to breath you break it up into small balls and flatten them to approximately 6cm in diameter so that they look like round discs. Like so:
Now comes the really fun part. You need to add little of the mooli filling (don’t forget to get rid of any excess water from the mooli – just give it a squeeze!) and place it on top of the small round dough disk.
Then you place another dough disk on top of your creation and press down at the edges as if you were making a cornish pasty.
With a rolling pin you then flatten your little parcel. You may need to put down a sprinkling of flour on your work surface and rolling pin so that the pastry does not stick.You need to roll it to the size of a small pancake or poppadom.
By the time you have done this eight times I promise you you’ll get VERY good at it.
Place a little olive oil in a small frying pan and when it is hot place the paratha in the pan. It takes a few minutes to lightly bronze each side. Before flipping it over you will find that you need to put a little more oil in the pan.
Once they are evenly cooked place on a plate with some kitchen roll, so as to soak up any excess oil.
Voila, you have now created a perfect little paratha, which can be eaten with a knob of ghee or butter on its own, or accompanying some dal or any vegetable, fish or meat curry. They are a great substitute to rice, although some friends like to have them as well as rice, I leave it to your discretion.
Paratha Stuffed with Mooli, Green Chilli and Coriander
275g brown chapati flour
160ml warm water
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
half Mooli, grated
2 small green chilli, finely cut
1 handful coriander, chopped
1 tsp garam masala
oil for frying
1. Mix the flour, oil, salt and water in a mixing bowl to create a large dough ball. Cover and leave to rest for half an hour, ideally somewhere warm.
2. Meanwhile, grate the mooli and add the green chilli, coriander, garam masala and salt. It is important to get rid of any excess water at this stage as the filling will be too wet for the dough!
3. Break the large dough ball up into 16 small balls and then roll them to around 6cm in diameter.
4. Place a small amount of mooli mixture on 8 of the flat dough discs and then place the remanding 8 dough discs on top. Press down at the sides so that none of the filling escapes.
5. Warm a frying pan with a little oil and then place one of the paratha into the hot oil. Fry for a couple of minutes and then place a little more oil in the pan whilst you turn the paratha over so that it is evenly cooked.
6. Once cooked place on kitchen roll and keep in a warm place whilst you prepare the remanding paratha. Eat warm with dal, vegetable or fish and meat curry.