Some months ago, I featured a simple basic Indian flatbread known as Roti. This more complex version, more specifically a form of Paratha, allows me to illustrate the use of two basic ingredients, Besan and Ajowan Seed, that we took a look at recently. The recipe here, although a bit of an improvisation, is one that would likely be quite at home in the North-East Indian state of Rajasthan, especially since that particular corner of the country is by far the greatest producer of the flavorful Ajowan Seed…
- 1 cup plain White Flour (plus extra for rolling);
- ½ cup Besan;
- 1 ½ tsp. Salt;
- 2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil (plus extra for rolling);
- 1 tsp. Turmeric;
- ¼ cup onion, very finely chopped;
- 1 tsp. Ajowan Seed;
- 1 ½ tbsp. dried Fenugreek Leaf (Methi);
- ½ cup of Water (more or less).
Put all the ingredients except the water into the bowl of your food processor and pulse repeatedly until everything is well blended and the mixture has a somewhat ‘mealy’ appearance.
Now, continue to process, adding the water a few tablespoons at a time until the mixture collects into a dough ball that spins around with the blades. Remove it, and knead vigorously for several minutes and then allow the dough to rest for at least a half an hour.
When you are ready, divide your dough into 6 even portions and then, one portion at a time, roll the dough out into a circle as thin and wide as you can manage, using additional flour as needed.
Now, brush the surface with a very thin film of oil and, beginning at one side, roll the circle up, cigar fashion, to form a long cylinder.
Next, coil the cylinder ‘snail-shell’ fashion.
Roll out the result to a thin circle again, this time about 8 inches across. Repeat with the rest of the dough and keep covered until needed.
To cook, heat your tawa, or griddle, over a medium flame and brush lightly with oil. Throw on a dough circle and allow the topside to begin to form blisters across the surface. If they begin to balloon too much, press down with a spatula.
Cook until brown spots begin to form on the underside (peek if necessary) and then flip to cook the other side. Repeat with the remaining circles and keep warm, wrapped in foil, until ready to serve. You can eat them right away, brushed with a little melted butter (and maybe some pickle or chutney on the side), or else serve them alongside a more substantial meal. If you wish, you can also save them for later and simply re-heat in the oven, wrapped in foil, just before service.
I served these ones along with a dry shellfish curry and a spicy, cold cabbage side-dish. My wife really enjoyed the roti, but I thought they maybe needed a little something extra, if only a pinch more salt. Still, it may have been that I didn’t have a huge appetite on the evening I made this supper. My wife, on the other hand, scarfed down her whole plate and then took my leftovers for lunch the next day. I guess I’ll take that as an endorsement…