Monday, December 19, 2011

Alu Paratha

Remember how I told you about this hotel called Surguru in my hometown Pondichéry? And how that was where I started eating a different cuisine apart from the typical sambhar-saadham-poriyal that I was used to? Well it was also in that same hotel that I was introduced to the stuffed nan. I "hearted" it from the very first time and once I started cooking, I was always curious about how I could achieve the same results in my own tiny kitchen. The experiments started with layering a vegetable mash in between two rotis and trying to seal them and cook them all the way to rolling two rotis together with stuffing in between. It was on a lazy weekend afternoon that I came across this cookery show where I saw the step-by-step process of making a paratha. I tried it out the very next day and it was a hit! The naive 12 year old me couldn't believe that I had actually gotten it right...finally :)

So what follows is a alu paratha recipe that I have tried and perfected over the years. I still have two distinct recipes for the stuffing that I follow. Both of course are a favorite with VJ and it's also the default lunch of his choice on his b'day every year :)

My recipe is mostly going to focus on the stuffing. VJ was actually helping me, so we couldn't take pictures while I actually rolled and made the paratha. I will update this post with the step-by-step pictures once I manage to get some.

Atta - for 10 rotis
Potatoes - 4 medium sized ones

For stuffing 1:
Oil - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Green chillies - 4
Hing - a pinch
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp (optional)
Salt - to taste

For stuffing 2:
Oil - 1 tbsp
Whole red chillies - 8 (Rule of thumb: 2 chillies per potato)
Whole coriander seeds - 4 tsp
Jeera - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch (optional)
Kasoori methi - a generous pinch
Salt - to taste

1. Wash and cut the potatoes in half - along the width. Take a vessel with 2 cups of water and cook the potatoes in it until they are cooked through. You can check using a fork.
2. Then immerse them in cold running water, peel and mash them while they are still hot enough to handle.
3. Add salt to the potatoes, mix well and set aside to cool.

For stuffing 1:
1. Slit the green chilllies and then finely chop them. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan and splutter the jeera.
3. Add the green chillies and fry until they are browned. Switch off the stove and place the pan on a cold stove.
4. Now add all the dry masalas and mix well into the oil. Add this to the mashed potatoes and the coriander leaves. 
5. Mix it all together until well blended. If the potatoes are too dry, sprinkle some water and blend well. The stuffing is ready. Make round patties of the stuffing and set aside.

For stuffing 2:
1. Dry roast the coriander seeds and 1 tsp of jeera in a pan along with the red chillies for about a minute or so.
2. Once they are cooled, grind them coarsely in a blender.
3. To this add the pinch of turmeric (optional).
4. Heat the oil in a pan and splutter the remaining 1 tsp of jeera. Switch off the stove, add the coarsely ground masala and give it a quick stir.
5. Add this to the potatoes along with the kasoori methi and mix well until it is all well blended. The stuffing is ready. Make round patties of the stuffing and set aside.

To make the paratha:
1. Take a large pinch of the atta and make a rough-flattened patty. A good rule of thumb is to use 1.5 times the atta required to make a normal roti.
2. Flatten the patty with your hands (or belan) to accomodate the stuffing patty. Place the stuffing patty and bring the atta around it to seal.
3. Slightly press down and dust it with some dry flour. Roll it out like you would a normal roti. But take care that the stuffing doesn't spill out or break through the atta. If there are a few weak spots, dust those areas generously with dry atta and continue to roll it out.
4. To cook the paratha, heat a pan on high until hot. Sprinkle some oil and slide the paratha in the pan with the thick atta side facing the pan first. Sprinkle more oil on the other side and round the edges. After about 30 seconds, flip the paratha.
5. Continue to flip the paratha cooking for roughly 30 to 45 seconds on each side. Add oil if it is too dry. The paratha is done when you can see it change color all over the surface with brown spots. There shouldn't be any patch in the color of uncooked atta.

Serve hot with a dollop of salted butter, plain yoghurt and Indian pickle.

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