Today I will be sharing a very simple recipe of one of my favorite comfort foods, Aloo Paratha or Indian flat bread stuffed with spiced potatoes.
It is one of the most popular recipes of Punjab but is equally popular and enjoyed all over India from north to south. Aloo paratha is a type of Indian flatbread which is stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes, pan roasted with some clarified butter or butter and served hot with yogurt or pickles. Enjoyed as a breakfast dish in north India, I personally like to have aloo parathas for lunch or dinners.
Aloo parathas bring back fond memories of my school days. I always used to relate aloo parathas with picnic as it was the the most popular item on the picnic menu in our household. I still remember my mom packing hot parathas in aluminum foils along with some sandwiches for most of my school picnic outings. I still remember how me and all of my friends used to gather all excited and sit in circles for lunch with our packed homemade goodies. They were my favorite picnic meal then and it still is now especially when it comes to preparing something easy yet delicious.
Initially it took me quite a few trials to make good parathas. Most of the times the stuffing would come out of the dough while rolling it making the rolling pin and everything around completely messy. Other times I was just not satisfied with how the filling tasted, at times it tasted bland and there were times when the dough to the filling ratio was just not right. I started making aloo parathas quite frequently after my move to US. And so after a lot of trials, errors and practice, I can now make fairly good parathas without any blunders :D.
Some quick nutrition facts about potatoes:
Before you start judging the poor potato as being unhealthy think again. If you remove all the deep frying, sour cream, cheese and all of the unhealthy dressing from the potatoes it is actually a healthy food source.
- Potatoes are very high in Vitamin B6
- They are a good source of potassium, copper, manganese, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, niacin and dietary fibre
- All in all they are good for our bones, heart health, digestion, metabolism and skin.
So if you skip the french fries, chips and all the unhealthy dressing and include them in your diet in a healthy way and in moderation they can be quite good for you.
Hence you can enjoy parathas as well provided they are drizzled with very little oil or ghee/clarified butter.
The key to making good parathas is obviously the stuffing. The stuffing should be dry or else it will come out while rolling the dough. Here are some useful tips that I have learnt when it comes to cooking the potatoes correctly:
1) I prefer cooking the potatoes by boiling them. Rinse the potatoes under running water first. In a sauce pan add water, half a teaspoon of salt and mix. Always start with cold water for even cooking of the potatoes. The water should be just enough to submerge the potatoes. Cover and cook in gently boiling water till tender. It takes anywhere between 15 - 25 mins for medium sized potatoes. Check if they are cooked by inserting a small knife, skewer or fork. If the knife easily slides without any resistance to the centre then its done.
2) Try steaming them if possible. This ensures that the potatoes become tender but without all the excess moisture. This may take more time comparatively.
3) Avoid starchy potatoes like russet because they can absorb water while cooking. I usually use white or yellow potatoes.
4) Do not overcook the potatoes, this will result in a very gooey and mushy potatoes and they won't work well for the stuffing. If you have a perfectly cooked mashed potatoes then the rest of the steps are very easy.
This recipe will yield anywhere between 6 - 8 medium sized parathas
For the stuffing:
2 -3 peeled and boiled mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic grated/paste
1 tsp ginger grated/paste
1 green chili chopped
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of kashmiri red chili powder (you can also use regular chili powder)
1/4 tsp of garam masala
1/4 tsp of chaat masala or amchoor powder or lemon juice
2 tbsp of chopped cilantro/coriander
2 tsp oil for tempering
Note: If you don't like the flavor of ginger garlic and want to keep it simple, skip it completely or you can also use only ginger paste. You can also add onions if you like. Skip the green chilis and reduce the amount of chili powder if you want the stuffing less spicy. This recipe will yield mildly spicy stuffing.
For the dough:
1 - 2 cups of whole wheat flour
Water as required
Salt to taste
1 tsp of oil
Dry flour for dusting
Preparing the dough:
1) In a large bowl add the whole wheat flour and salt. Mix well.
2) Now start adding water little at a time and start mixing with hand. Keep on adding little water at a time and knead till all the flour comes together and forms a dough.
3) Knead well to form a soft dough. Now sprinkle oil and knead again. Cover the bowl or cover the dough with cling wrap and keep it aside for 15 - 20 mins. Meanwhile you can start preparing the stuffing.
Preparing the stuffing:
1) Cook the potatoes by boiling them as mentioned above. Depending upon the size of the potatoes the cooking time can vary. Remove from hot water and let them cool for few mins. Peel them when its cool enough to handle. Mash the potatoes using a masher or a fork. Mash it real good till looks nice and even so that there are no lumps.
2) Heat oil in skillet or pan (I used very little oil for tempering you can use more if you wish). Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.
3) Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute for few secs on a low to medium flame till the raw smell goes away. Now add all the turmeric powder and chili powder saute for few seconds.
3) Add the mashed potatoes, salt to taste and mix thoroughly. After around 1 - 2 mins add the garam masala and amchoor/chaat masala powder/lemon juice. Mix thoroughly again. Finally add cilantro leaves and then check for seasoning. Remove the skillet from the gas stove and let the potato mixture cool for few mins.
Note: This is how I like my stuffing. You can skip the tempering and instead add all the masala directly to the mashed potatoes and use it for stuffing.
For making the Paratha:
1) Heat a round griddle or tava on medium flame. While the skillet is getting warm start preparing the paratha.
2) Pinch out and make balls from the dough and the potato mixture. The size of the dough balls and potato mixture should be somewhat same.
2) Take one dough ball and start rolling the dough on a rolling board with the help of a rolling pin to a circle of approximately 5 inch in diameter. (Before rolling the dough you can coat the dough with some dry flour and then start rolling to avoid the dough sticking on the board. I usually avoid this step as I don't like too much of dry flour on the paratha).
3) Place one ball of potato mixture in the centre of the rolled dough (as pictured). Now start lifting the dough from the sides and fold it to the centre (as pictured below). Make sure to seal it from above in the centre. Flatten it with hand and coat it with dry flour on both sides.
4) Start rolling the stuffed ball carefully like we do for roti/chapati. Keep rolling it till you get a round paratha of approximately 7 inch in diameter.
5) I usually keep the thickness of the paratha medium. If you wish you can make them a bit thick. However do not try to roll it very thin else the stuffing will start oozing out.
6) Grease the griddle/tava with some ghee or butter.( I used very little ghee that is less the 1/2 tsp on each side to keep it healthy.)
7) Place the paratha on the griddle and cook it on a medium flame till you can see bubbles forming on top. Add some ghee on the top as well and then flip it and cook the top side. Flip the paratha 2 to 3 times until its nice golden brown on both the sides. You can add more ghee during this stage as per your liking. I added it only once initially to keep it healthy and less greasy. And thats all, remove the paratha from the griddle/tava and similarly make rest of the parathas. Serve hot aloo parathas with pickles or yogurt. :)