Indian cuisine consists of a diverse mixture of flavors and tastes that reflects a variety of cultures, racial structures, geography and climate.
India never ceases to amaze me. There are 29 states and each state is completely different in it’s own right with an array of dishes exclusive to them; even the languages, attire, and culture is unlike from the next state over. Hard to comprehend how one country can offer, let alone sustain such an amalgam of cultures. The flavors of India are vibrant and bold ranging from spicy meat pickles to delicate saffron rice pudding.
I was born and raised in Delhi (capital of India) yet I haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of tasting the various offerings of this colorful country, my heart considers home. So, how can I aptly depict India’s cuisine? To keep matters simple, I am a sharing a recipe of parathas, which is the staple of every North Indian home.
Paratha is a savory flat bread typically consumed for breakfast or lunch. A paratha (especially a stuffed one) can be eaten simply with a blob of butter spread on top, with chutney, with pickles of yogurt. Mashed potatoes or cauliflower the universal favorites.
If you ask any North Indian, they will validate that their mom makes the best parathas in town. Each of us has the fondest memories, impish stories, and fastidious preferences revolving around this simple dish. One thing though is universal across the borders – parathas are our ultimate comfort dish. In my opinion, my maternal grandmother made the best of them all. I could scarf down a dozen if she wasn’t counting; they just melted in my mouth especially, when she doused them with her home-made fresh unsalted butter.
Parathas are a relatively easy and fast dish to prepare if you know how to knead or roll dough. My personal choice of filling is mashed potatoes or peas, though my family is partial to cauliflower and horseradish. Don’t panic if aren’t able to roll a perfect round paratha. All of us have been guilty of starting out with amusing geographical creations. Be patient, it takes quite a bit of practice to achieve the right shape and thinness.
So here’s an ode to the world’s best mom – YOUR MOM!!
Paratha – Stuffed with Tangy Green Peas
- 2 cups whole wheat flour or chapati flour*
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp Indian red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (amchur*)
- a pinch of garam masala*
- In a big bowl stir flour, salt, and canola oil. Start making the dough by adding 1/2 cup of water. You should have a soft pliable dough in the end. Keep sprinkling more water till you get the right consistency. Knead for a few minutes. Keep aside.
- Saute peas with the spices in a pan till they are soft, tender, and lightly brown. I typically crush them to keep them mushy. Check for seasonings.
- Knead the dough once again and divide into equal portions.
- On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball and roll with a rolling-pin into a small disc. Place approximately 1 tbsp of the pea mixture in the center of the disc. Lift the edges of the dough to cover the filing completely and seal it.
- Roll the bundle lightly with sealed side down to form about a salad plate size disc.
- Set a heavy cast iron pan or Tava over high heat. Cook the paratha on one side till it shows brown flecks and then flip it over. Brush the cooked top with 1 tsp oil or clarified butter and flip again. Press down gently with a spatula. Keep flipping till the paratha is crisp and lightly browned.
- Serve hot with a dash of butter and yogurt on the side.
Note: Parathas are best when they are freshly made and eaten hot.
* – Readily available in any Indian grocery store.