I love hot,straight from the griddle flatbreads.With a dollop of butter and chai (tea) on side, the taste is better than the best foods around. Growing up, in my badi mummy’s (grandma) house, winters were a season for parathas of all sorts.On few days we would just feed on stuffed parathas for dinner with home churned white butter and pickled vegetables.It was a simple meal, yet very satisfying. My grandmother used to make parathas with dough kneaded just when it was time to roll the bread,sometimes stuffing the stretchy, gluten layers with shredded mooli (daikon) or spiced crumbled cauliflower, and, a lot of times with the winter greens mixed in to hide but form a robust & flavorful dough. All the greens and vegetables came from the house grown patch, of which I have talked about a lot in my previous posts.On days when the power was out, she would ignite angithis (small clay containers of fire) in the verandah,repeatedly waving old newspapers in front of the glowing coal pieces. If the potatoes were plenty from the yard, they were put as it is inside the gusto of the brazier. We sat around the heated fire,wrapped in sweaters and shawls,our faces lighted by the flickering candles,soaking warmth of the burning charcoal, chit chatting and tearing bites from the fresh made hot parathas. A few potatoes were taken out, smashed with fork, a drizzle of ghee, salt & chill powder and a rustic side was ready.With each morsel,wafted a aromatic steam smelling of garlic, fenugreek and warm spices. Many winter evenings were spent like this, no invertors or generators, a pre convenience era you would say.
Making rotis or parathas is such an everyday thing for me. I make flatbreads of some kind each single day, it never feels like a chore, it is such a happy routine. I fail to understand when people say its too much work.They say when you love something you embrace it as joy. Maybe because I am used to it that I secretly enjoy it or I cook because I care.If you have dough in the refrigerator,its a matter of minutes to get the bread together.
The approach of spring season is usually indicative of the end of methi season.To me it leaves behind a similar departed feeling of sorts when fresh tomatoes start vanishing at the knock of fall. I love methi leaves, I am addicted to them, sometimes I specially go to the store just to pick them, they are part of our weekly menu- they are so flavorful, addictively bitter and so good for you. I am yet to spot fresh methi leaves in non- indian grocers here in the States so you will have to make a visit to indian grocery to get these.However, few of my friends compare its taste to fresh watercress sometimes.I haven’t tried the substitution but this recipe can very well be used for any kind of greens you like – think finely shredded rainbow chard, think tucson kale or think good ol’spinach (the cooking variety).
I roll the flatbreads both as triangles as well as well in the usual circle shapes. The triangle one needs more oil to be brushed inside layers and definitely comes out much more soft & flaky.You can refer to a previous post on step by step for making triangle paratha. The husband prefers those. But you could do any way. Circles or triangles – they taste awesome!
These methi parathas are so easy to make.Throw everything together and knead the dough.They are soft, flaky and packed with taste and nutrients. Let the dough sit in the refrigerator for no more than a day or two and make them to go along with meals or just enjoy rolled up like a cigar all on its own with a cup of chai. I would recommend making them before this winter season goes away.
Ingredients (Makes 8)
- 1.5 cup packed fresh/frozen methi (fenugreek leaves, see notes on other greens that can be used)
- 1.25 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
- 1/3 cup besan (fine chickpea flour)
- a generous pinch of hing (asafetida powder)
- 1/8 tsp ajwain (skip or substitute with celery seeds)
- heaping 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 3-4 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 1 scallion(spring onion) stalk, green & white parts finely chopped
- 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water (or as required, see recipe)
- Canola Oil for griddle frying (about 2 tbsp per paratha)
- You can refer to a previous post on triangle paratha on how to shape the flatbreads.
- If you want to roll parathas in circles, refer to previous post on rotis on how to do that.
- If you do not get fresh methi leaves in the area you live,look for the freezer aisle. They stock frozen methi there. You can use that in this recipe after thawing it and squeezing excess water out.
- Important :- Make small batches of this dough.Its gets sticky and soft as it sits and the vegetables start leaving water from the salt. I do not keep it for more than 2 days. The taste changes after a couple of days. You can half the recipe if you want.
- This recipe can very well be used for any kind of greens you like – think chard, think tucson kale or think good ol’spinach (the cooking variety).
Pick the methi leaves from stems. Discard the stems and wash the methi leaves under running water so that all the dirt is washed away. Rinse the leaves well. Drain them completely.You don’t need to dry them out but ensure that the are not watery. Use a paper towel if needed. If you are using the frozen variety, squeeze water from the leaves and finely chop the methi leaves. Set aside.
In a wide dish or paraat, mix together flours, ajwain, hing and turmeric. Start adding oil a tablespoon at a time and working in the flours to incorporate. Add the chopped methi leaves next along with onions,scallions, garlic, cilantro, ginger and green chillies. Mix together.
Add little water at a time and knead to a smooth dough. As the flour absorbs water,it will start clumping up into a ball.Continue to add water till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour will come together.Remember not to add too much water at a time.Use your knuckles to flatten the dough out and then pull it all together towards yourself, using your palm & fingers, then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly for 7-8 minutes. At any point you feel that the flour is tight or drying out, add a light splash water (but not too much)Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast). Once the dough looks and feels really really smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind not to make a very loose dough because as it sits, it will turn softer and sticky. Once kneaded, let rest for 15-20 minutes.
If you are not planning to make parathas right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.
When ready to make parathas, uncover and divide into equal portions. Take each dough portion between palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. Get some loose atta on to the dish. Its time to make roll!
Roll and cover each ball in the loose atta and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly on edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.Dust the board as and when required when rolling. Initially, you will need to dust more but it will get easier as you continue.Using a rolling-pin, roll the ball into a circle 2.5″ in diameter. Brush a little ghee/oil on the rolled out circle.After brushing the ghee, fold into a semi-circle.Brush the ghee on the semi-circle and fold again to form a triangle.Sprinkle the top with more flour and carefully with the help of rolling-pin, roll out until its 1/8″ thick. Note: While you are rolling out, you will need to flip over, dust flour etc and be gentle to keep the shape intact.You will not get a neat triangle shape but thats how it is.
Spread some oil on the heated tawa/griddle.Carefully lift the rolled out dough with your hands and place on the tawa.Let cook for 2 minutes on medium heat and then flip over using a spatula.Using a spoon,spread 1 tablespoon oil thoroughly on the first side while the second side is cooking.Flip again and repeat brushing oil on the second side.Cook both sides till you see small brown specks and smell the aroma of cooked dough. In some cases the paratha will fluff up while cooking.Dont worry you did a good job if that happens. Be careful of the escaping steam though.
Once cooked & golden brown on both sides, remove from griddle using a spatula & transfer to cooling rack to cool slightly so that they don’t become soggy , later you store them in a box lined with dry cloth or paper towel.
Serve warm with pickle, curries, salad or raita.