Food is something both Stephen and I love. Cooking, eating and, most especially, trying new things. This past week, with the arriving spring, we decided to do some tasty and spicy Indian food. But having grown up with a pretty restricted Indian food repertoire (meat and veg in some type of curry sauce) I wanted to try something new and exciting - since there is much more to Indian food than curry, naan and rice biryani (the limits of my Indian food repertoire). I know this because every time I go to an Indian restaurant the menus are huge! So I picked one of my favorite Indian foods and decided to give it a try. Entre the paratha!
Parathas are an unleavened Indian flat bread. They consist of a simple dough (flour, water and salt) folded in layers with ghee (clarified butter) or oil spread between the layers to keep them apart. They are often stuffed with tasty foods like mint, or potatoes or spinach. When they come to your table and you pull them apart, they have the most wonderful characteristic of being hundreds of tiny sheets of tasty bread already slathered in butter. And like naan, they are perfect for mopping up curry. Which takes me to another reason I wanted to try this new food. When I was in Singapore visiting family, I had an egg paratha for breakfast one morning. What got me was that the whole meal constituted one big, tasty paratha stuffed with an egg and a small bowl of very soupy curry sauce. And at the end of it I was full. This was different from any North American (or Kiwi) Indian food I had ever experienced, so I wanted to try it myself at home.
Which brings me to our tasty meal. Aloo parathas (potato parathas) served with lamb curry, lime pickle, mango chutney and yogurt. The recipe for the parathas was taken from my favorite source for Indian cookery - Manjula's kitchen (http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/). She has some great recipes with easy to follow videos. The lamb curry, essentially a side dish tonight, was found at the Asian Food Warehouse here in Christchurch and was much soupier than anything I'd made before, making it much more similar to the one I'd had in Singapore. But now, to the recipe.
Aloo Parathas (Potato parathas) - from Manjula's Kitchen
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
1 pinch of salf
1 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes (about 5 small or 3 large)
2 Tablespoons cilantro/coriander
1 fresh chili pepper, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1.Start by boiling the potatoes until just soft and ready for mashing. Drain, set aside and let cool to room temperature before mashing them.
2. Mix flour, water and salt until dough forms.
3. Dump out on counter and knead with oiled hands until soft (about 2 minutes).
4. Mash your now room temperature potatoes. Add all other filling ingredients and mix together.
5. Dump out onto counter and knead filling until everything is well mixed.
6. Break both the filling and the dough into 6 equal sized balls and set aside.
7. Take one dough ball and roll it out on a floured surface to the size to your palm.
8. Place a ball of filling into the middle of the disc and close the dough around the filling like you would a dumpling. Press it lightly to make a hockey puck shaped disc and set aside.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for remaining 5 sets of dough and filling balls.
10. Place a cast iron pan on the stove and heat up at med-high.
11. Now take your first hockey puck dumpling, place it on a floured surface and roll out to the size of a dinner plate or whatever will fit in your pan.
12. Place your paratha into hot, dry pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Check to see if there are tiny brown spots forming on your cooking side and flip.
13. Smear the cooked side with about 1 teaspoon of oil and flip (when second side has started to brown).
14. Flip one more time to crisp up the second side and remove from pan.
15. Repeat steps 11 through 14 with the remaining hockey puck-dumplings-come-parathas.
Enjoy with a tasty curry of your choosing and any mix of pickles, chutneys and yogurt you prefer. See Manjula's recipe here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHqZlKrfbGg) for video instruction.