April 3, 2012

Methi Paratha

     Paratha's or Indian flatbread are made with atta (wheat flour) and are a staple in Northern India. These are not to be confused with the Parotta's which are a layered flatbread more popular in Southern India and made with maida (all purpose flour). Paratha's can be made either plain or with some stuffing inside and rolled out flat. My mom's paratha's came in different shapes and sizes...sometimes they were round, rectangular or triangular. The shapes were usually to excite and coax us kids to eat. One of my favorite is the methi paratha or fenugreek leaves paratha. These are made out of fresh methi leaves which are said to have a cooling effect on the body. Sure, it may seem a pain to clean and cut the methi leaves, but the end result is definately worth the effort :) Frozen methi leaves can also be used, after the leaves are thawed, washed once and water completely drained from the leaves.

Methi paratha with curd and pickle


 Methi leaves (preferably fresh) - 1 Bunch
 Atta flour - 4 tea cups
 Ajwain seeds(Carom seeds) - 1 tbsp
 Besan (gramflour) - 2 tbsp
 Chilli powder - 1/2  or 1 tsp
 Salt - according to taste
 Butter - 1 tbsp (If using salted butter, don't add salt)
 Water - 1 cup, to knead the dough
 Oil - to smear on the parathas while cooking
 Atta - 1 cup ( to dust the parathas while rolling out)

 1) Clean and wash the methi leaves, taking care to remove all the stems. Dry them thoroughly and chop them finely. Set aside.
2) Take atta (wheat flour) in a large vessel. I usually take about 4 heaped handful of atta. Next, add the ajwain seeds, besan flour, chilli powder and salt to the atta. You can vary the quantity of ajwain, but the more you add, the bitter it can get. Remember that methi leaves are bitter as it is. Also, don't overdo the besan flour as it is only for taste. Too much besan will cause a complete change in taste and you may end up with Theplas instead :) Besan also gives a yellowish tinge to the parathas. Mix these ingredients nicely.
3) Add the butter and mix well. I add cold butter, but butter at room temperature is also fine. Butter is added to make the parathas nice and soft. And it remains soft for several hours, even a day or two.

Ajwain(Carom seeds) and butter added to the atta
4) Next add the chopped methi leaves and mix till the leaves get well coated with the flour.
5) Now add water and knead the dough into a large ball. Let it rest for 1/2 to 1 hour. I usually refrigerate the dough a couple of hours. Its easier to work with it afterwards that way. You can make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate it too. Make sure it does not freeze though.

Kneaded dough with methi leaves
6) Heat the tava or a skillet. Make medium sized balls and roll them out, occasionally dusting them with atta. Place the parathas on the tava and allow one side to cook. When it changes color, flip it over, smear with oil and repeat the process until both sides are evenly cooked.Store in a stainless steel casserole or hot-case with a lid.My mother used to place a fresh kitchen towel inside the hot-case and then place the parathas in them, in order to retain the heat and absorb the moisture created by the heat.I make do without the towel as I am not too keen on having to wash it later on.Moreover I feel the towel causes more moisture build up.
7) Serve with curd and pickle. You can also have this with spicy or plain dal, depending on how much chilli powder you choose to add in your parathas.

Note: The recipe above will make 10 - 12 medium thickness parathas.

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