A Simple Paratha Recipe
The Paratha is specific type of ‘Roti’, or flatbread. In Indian cuisine, the simplest form of Roti is the ‘Chapati’, while the Paratha, is a more complex variety, in which the dough is oiled (with a vegetable oil or ghee) as it is rolled out, then folded, oiled, and rolled again several times so that, when cooked, the result is a lovely flaky-textured, layered bread. The recipe here uses only 4 ingredients, including water, and is about as simple as a Paratha recipe can be.
A Note on the Ingredients
I am using a plain old All-Purpose Flour here, but, in most Indian households, Atta flour would more likely be the flour of choice. This is a whole grain wheat flour and can be found in Indian, or Asian grocery stores and markets. Some people blend white bread flour with whole wheat flour to make a substitute with similar qualities.
For rolling, I am using a plain vegetable oil, but Ghee is also commonly used and will add a pleasant taste as well as make the bread flaky. Likewise, where I am using whole butter to make the dough itself, Ghee would be much more common in India.
By the way, this Simple Paratha Recipe could also be made using the same ingredients as in my Simple Roti Recipe.
Making the Dough for Parathas
You can certainly make your dough in a bowl by hand, but, these days, most kitchens are equipped with food processors and this greatly simplifies and speeds up the operation.
The first step is to add the flour, salt and butter (or Ghee) to your food processor and whiz on high speed until everything is blended. If you look closely at the above picture, you will see that, as the butter is mixed in, the flour takes on a rather ‘mealy’ or ‘grainy’ texture.
To form the dough, you need to add water a little at a time (not all at once) and continue to process. The flour will progressively become more mealy, then granular, as more water is added and then, quite suddenly, it will pull into a ball and spin around on the blades. Stop adding water as soon as this happens.
Knead the dough well, dusting with extra flour if it is still a little sticky, and then form into a ball and let rest in a bowl for at least thirty minutes before proceeding. Keep it covered with a cloth or the like in order to avoid drying it out.
Rolling and Forming the Parathas
When you are ready to make the parathas, divide your dough in to 4, 6 or 8 equal portions (depending on the size of the flatbreads you desire) and roll each into a ball, keeping these covered (a damp cloth is good) until needed. To begin, take one ball and roll it out into a circle about 1/8 of an inch in thickness.
The next step in the process is to oil the surface of the dough, fold it in half to make a half-moon, oil the surface again, and fold one more time to make a quarter of a circle. Do not use too much oil. You basically need to drizzle a few drops or so onto the middle of the surface and then smooth it out almost to the edges so that there is just a bare shininess to the dough.
Finally, roll out the wedge-shaped piece of dough formed by folding until you have a rough triangle shaped piece no more than a 1/8 of an inch thick. If you look at the one in the above picture, you can see the triple layers in the outer curve.
Repeat this operation with the remaining balls of dough and keep all the parathas covered with a damp for the time being.
Cooking the Parathas
To cook the parathas, heat your griddle, or Tava, over moderate to high heat and then brush your first piece of dough on both sides with a little oil. Toss it onto the griddle and cook until the dough starts to bubble and then balloon up from the heat. Press down and continue to cook until the underside starts to brown and form a few dark spots here and there.
Flip the paratha and continue to cook. It will also balloon up somewhat during this stage and you can press it down with a spatula again and continue to cook until the bottom surface is nicely cooked like the top. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces, keeping your stack covered with a cloth until finished.
Parathas are great hot from the griddle with a little butter, pickle, or other tasty condiment of your choice and they are frequently served as a starchy side with other, more substantial dishes as part of an Indian meal. To save for later, you can wrap them in foil and then re-heat for service in a moderate oven for twenty minutes or so.
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A Simple Paratha Recipe
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or Atta flour;
- 1 ½ tbsp. Butter or Ghee;
- ¾ tsp. Salt;
- ¾ cups of Water approximately;
- Extra flour for rolling.
- Extra vegetable oil or ghee for rolling and cooking;
- Blend the salt and butter (or ghee) into the flour, by hand or in a food processor, until it forms a ‘mealy’ texture.
- Add enough of the water, a little at a time, to form a smooth dough.
- Knead the dough well for several minutes, form it into a ball, and let it rest, covered, for about 30 minutes.
- When ready, divide the dough in to 4, 6 or 8 equal portions (depending on the desired size of each) and roll each into a ball, keeping these covered with a damp cloth until needed.
- Roll each ball out until it is a circle with about 1/8 of an inch thickness, dusting the board with flour as necessary.
- Brush the surface of the circle VERY lightly with oi or ghee, then fold the circle over on itself to form a half-moon. Brush the surface of this with oil as before, then fold the dough in half again to form a wedge-shaped quarter circle.
- Roll out each wedge until it is 1/8 inches thick and repeat the same series of operations with the remaining dough.
- To cook, heat a griddle or Tawa over a moderate flame, brush each Paratha with oil on both surfaces, and then cook on both sides until nice dark spots form, pressing with a spatula down if the dough ‘balloons’ excessively.
- Keep the cooked parathas covered and either serve warm right away, or wrap and reheat for service later.