Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aloo Paratha

Aloo paratha is an unlevened whole-wheat flat bread (paratha) with a potato filling (aloo). This bread was of particular interest to me because I like Indian food and have made several Indian breads before including Julie Sahni's version of paratha (found in Classic Indian Cooking). Paratha is a bread that can be made in a relatively short amount of time, and there are a variety of fillings than can be used. Or it can be made without a filling.

For the bread part of the recipe, a blend of whole-wheat and bread flours, salt, and water, are kneaded together. Then the dough rests for a half hour or so, is shaped, and is then cooked on a griddle. For the filled bread, you can prepare the filling while the dough rests. Filling the dough is simply a matter of putting some of the filling in the middle of a rolled out disk of dough, then sealing the disk, and then rolling it out into another disk. The dough may, as shown above, puff up while grilling. The dough is basted with oil or ghee when done. If unfilled, you may want to brush the top before cooking, and fold it over on itself to form layers brushing between layers.

Shown here is a round of aloo paratha cut in half along side a serving of hard cooked eggs marsala.

If you turn to Indian cookbooks, you'll discover that there are many other fillings that can be used. In The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi, there are a half-dozen or so additional recipes for fillings along with directions for a plan paratha and a version of paratha made with chickpea flour. For the plan paratha, Devi has the cook fold and spread ghee over the bread. Filling may be made from peas, cauliflower. radishes, etc. In the third picture, the triangular pieces are plan paratha while the round is mooli paratha, a paratha that has a filling made with shredded radishes. (You'll just have to take my word on the fillings.)

Initially I followed Hamelman's recipe. For this last batch, I tried a straight whole-wheat flour. These, quite heavy and dense, were not nearly as good as Hamelman. Neither of the filling I tried overwhelmed me, but both were acceptable. Overall, this is a pleasant but not outstanding recipe. But in the future, I'll probably stick with naan.