September 20, 2014

Aloo Paratha (Parathas with potato filling)


   It is my belief that the humble potato is the most versatile of all vegetables :) Versatile, because you can make absolutely anything with this tasteless veggie. Either fry it, bake it or mash it with salt, or a little sugar, spice it up or just eat it plain boiled... the tattie will seldom disappoint you. And why should it? After all, its what most of the world is eating right now..... as the famous 'French Fries' ;)) Potatoes are a rich source of carbohydrates and often consumed in lieu of rice, which is a staple diet of most Asians. We south Indians, especially tamilans sometimes avoid 'the spuds' like plague as they are known to produce a lot of gas and ahem, no one wants to be around a 'gassy' person :) Even though there are tonnes of recipes that use the potato, to me the aloo symbolizes just one tasty dish... my favorite 'aloo ka paratha'. Piping hot aloo parathas with curd (dahi) and home made avakkai urugai (mango pickle) were indeed a very welcoming site for a frosty winter morning. The combo of curd and acchar (especially mom's tomato pickle) is truly unbeatable! Truth be said, I can never eat these parathas with any curry or veggie fry... the original paratha taste is always lost. I did eat a lot of these with jam...hmmm, now that's another good combo, especially for kids. Smear jam and roll it up or just eat each small paratha piece with a little jam. As a kid, I always felt an awe watching my mom make these parathas. It seemed a big deal back then, but now making them is a breeze. Just knead the wheat dough for the paratha, boil the tatties and add all the masalas, stuff them in the wheat dough and make parathas. This recipe is so simple, you will most probably find yourself making this ever so often, just like me. Make it for a hearty breakfast or a heavy dinner, you will love it. You can even make it any style....south or north Indian, just alter the masalas you add to the boiled potatoes. And it is a time saver, especially when you are out of veggies and the only veggies you have in the fridge are the beloved tatties! And don't forget the curd and pickle :) Indeed this was the best breakfast ever at home and a family favorite...with my dad, my brother, my mom and me all gathered at the family table enjoying warm parathas with curd and mummy's home made tomato pickle :)

My Mummy made this :) Love her for my favorite dish!

Ingredients: South Indian style

Potatoes - 8 (medium sized, red or white russet variety)
Onions - 1 (finely chopped)
Chilli powder - 1 to 1 1/2 tsps (add more as per taste)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Mustard - 1/2 tsp (optional for seasoning)
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsps for tadka (seasoning) and 5 tbsps for making paratha
Dry atta(wheat flour) - about 1 cup (to dredge stuffed atta while making paratha)

Ingredients: North Indian Style

Potatoes - 8 (medium sized red, or white russet variety)
Onions - 1 (finely chopped)
Chilli powder - 1 to 1 1/2 tsps (this is optional if using green chillies, so add as per taste)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp (optional for seasoning)
Salt - to taste
Jeera - 1 tsp (optional for seasoning)
Green chillies - 1 (finely chopped)
Garam masala - 1/2 - 1 tsps (I use ready made masala)
Amchur (dried mango powder) - 1/4 tsp or  more ( this is optional, but gives a tang to the                                                                                                    masala)
Oil - 2 tsps for tadka (seasoning) and 5 tbsps for making paratha
Dry atta(wheat flour) - about 1 cup (to dredge stuffed atta while making paratha)

Ingredients: Paratha dough

Atta (wheat flour) - 4 tea cups 
Salt - a pinch
Water - about 2 cups or as required


1) Wash and cut the potatoes in half.  Boil them in a pressure cooker with just enough water so as to immerse them. About 2 whistles in the cooker with around 5 minutes of simmer time are enough to cook them. Allow the potatoes to cool until they are just luke warm to the touch. 

Boiled potatoes with skin

2) Peel the potatoes when still warm and mash them in a container. Use a potato masher, a ladle or just your hands. If you allow them to cool completely, it will become difficult to mash and you will end up with big chunky pieces. Set aside.

Boiled potatoes without skin

Warm mashed potatoes

3) Measure the atta (wheat flour) in a container, add salt and required water. Knead into a pliable soft dough. I usually place the kneaded dough in the fridge for a couple of hours as I am not very adept at making parathas with freshly prepared dough. Don't forget to cover the dough lest you want odors from the items in the fridge to add to your paratha flavor.

Kneaded dough
4) Next, heat the 2 tbsp of oil in a kadai or thick saucepan. Chop the onions finely and set aside. For South Indian style, once oil is hot enough, add mustard if you want to, then add chilli powder, turmeric powder and stir fry without burning the masalas. Add the chopped onions and fry till the onions are dark brown. Add salt to the onions. Then add the mashed potatoes and turn off the gas. Mix the potatoes with the onions nicely so that the salt and chilli powder are evenly coated over them. Add more salt/ chilli powder if needed. chop green coriander and garnish once mixture is cooled (optional).

Stir frying onions with turmeric and chilli powder

South Indian style stuffing
   For North Indian style stuffing, heat 2 tbsps of oil and when it is hot enough, add the jeera and allow it to splutter. Lower heat and then add the chopped green chillies, followed by turmeric powder and garam masala powder. Add 1/2 tsp of chilli powder if more spicy stuffing is needed. Add chopped onion, stir fry till golden brown and add the potatoes and salt. Turn off heat and mix well to make a homogenous mixture. Add amchur powder if needed.
5) Heat a tava or skillet. Take a small lemon sized ball of atta (kneaded wheat flour) and flatten it out into a disc with the center slightly thick and the edges slightly thinner than the center. Take a tablespoon of the stuffing and place it in the center of the flattened atta disc. Hold the disc with stuffing in the palm of one hand and with the other gently, fold the atta over the stuffing, sealing it within the atta. 

Stuffing in the center of the flattened atta disc
Atta disc with the stuffing 
6) Dredge the stuffed atta disc in dry flour and roll it into flat thin/ thick parathas. My mother likes to roll her aloo parathas really thin, almost like rotis, and nowadays, I do the same :) I know a lot of people associate a paratha to be very thick...actually that's how its supposed to be, but then,sometimes we all do our own thing! I find that rolling mine somewhat thin helps the stuffing to spread evenly and the paratha cooks very evenly too.

Aloo paratha rolled and ready for cooking
7) Heat the tava on high and place the rolled paratha over it. When the color of the dough changes slightly, flip over and smear oil evenly over the paratha. Now lower the flame and when you see dark spots or bubbles forming, flip again, smear oil and allow to cook. Ensure that oil is sufficient and paratha does not burn. The hallmark of the aloo paratha is that it should appear oily, as that's where all the taste is ;)) So, don't cut back on the oil.. be liberal, enjoy a hearty meal....count the calories and number of parathas eaten later.

Color of paratha changing when slightly cooked
Oil smeared paratha flipped over
8) When both sides of the paratha are cooked evenly, remove from the stove and place on a plate or casserole (hotcase) to keep warm. This paratha is best eaten piping hot, especially in winters. Serve with curd and pickle, like I said above for best taste :) Or eat it with raita, raw green chilly and onion....hmm, from what I remember there were times I ate this with salted butter, in lieu of curd. Yup, I love this paratha with a dollop of jam too. And it tastes good plain too, all by itself, without the accompaniments.

Aloo paratha waiting to be eaten!

Note: Don't fret if the paratha is not spicy enough when eaten plain. That's where the pickle comes make up for any lack of taste. If you want to avoid pickle, make the stuffing spicy or better still add chat masala to the katori of curd. Any leftover stuffing can be used as masala for dosa, to make aloo bonda, tikki, sandwich base, pav bhaji masala, stuffed bread roll etc.In short, there are no dearth of recipes you can make with the spud! 

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