North Indian cuisine is very well known for its flatbreads. These include the roti/ chappathi, deep fried pooris, , leavened naans and pan fried parathas. These flatbreads were originally brought in to India by traders and invaders from Persia and thereabouts. With time, they have evolved becoming truly Indian in flavour. They can now be found in restaurants and little eateries across the country. Today’s recipe is for Aloo Parathas or Potato Stuffed Flatbreads. This is perhaps the most well known of Indian stuffed flatbreads.
Parathas are made with whole wheat flour, a little salt and mixed into a pliable dough with water. Balls of this dough are rolled out thin and cooked on a griddle with a little oil. Parathas can be made either plain or stuffed with a variety of fillings. The plain parathas are usually layered with fat while folding and rolling them out. This makes them soft and very flaky. Another kind of paratha is where vegetables are grated and mixed directly into the dough with spices and then rolled out and cooked.
Stuffed parathas come in a variety of fillings. Most fillings are spicy and savoury but some are sweet and filled with mawa/ khoya (milk solids) and nut. More popular varieties of stuffed parathas include Gobhi Paratha (cauliflower), Paneer Parathas (soft Indian cheese), Mooli Paratha (Daikon radish), MMethi Paratha (fenugreek greens) and Mixed Vegetable Paratha.
Aloo Parathas or Potato Stuffed Flatbreads are a favourite here and have gone to school in my daughter’s lunchbox a lot. They are reasonably easy to make but the process for making them can be broken into smaller steps if need be. When I make them for my daughter’s lunchbox, I make the potato filling the previous night and refrigerate it. I also knead the dough and refrigerate it to make things easier for myself. Then I just put the filling into the dough next morning, roll them out and cook them.
These Parathas are usually served with plain or seasoned yogurt or Raita, raw onion rings and pickles. Plain parathas are served with these and a curry of some sort. You can refrigerate the leftovers if any, but not for more than a day. They keep longer if you freeze them. To refrigerate parathas, just wrap them well in foil. Reheat them on a griddle with a little oil. Freeze them by stacking them with parchment paper or aluminium foil squares between each, and put them in a Ziploc bag. Pull out as many as you need and re-heat them on a skillet.
This post has been updated with text and images since it was first published in February, 2010.