Making Aloo ka Paratha — Indian Potato Stuffed Flatbread
by Denyce Rusch
We have had a fascination with Indian food (as well as plenty of other kinds of food) for years. Its complex use of spices and herbs create taste experiences like no other cuisine, and can make healthy recipes a feast for the senses.
At the Chicago Housewares Show, we were privileged to meet Chef Anupy Singla who gave a demonstration at the Cooking Theater. She picked me out of the audience as a volunteer helper! (Of course, it did not hurt that I was in the front row making a fool of myself by waving frantically.)
I really enjoyed the first-hand instructions she gave me about rolling out chapati, and getting some of my Indian cooking questions answered.
And, of course, I bought her book: The Indian Slow Cooker which I love. She has the spicing thing DOWN.
She told me on the phone also about her new book: Indian Vegan Cooking. In promoting her book, she has appeared on the “Today Show” and “Good Morning America!”
Chef Anupy gave me this recipe for Aloo ka Paratha, Indian Potato Stuffed Flatbread, specifically for us to give you here at Breadtopia. We have been wanting to start covering flatbreads for a long time, so this was the perfect opportunity to begin.
“Parathas are the quintessential North Indian breakfast. As a kid, I’d wait for weekends when mom would have time to make them, or visits to India when we’d eagerly look forward to being fed paratha after paratha every morning. They’d arrive hot and steaming right off the tava to our plates. The best way to eat them is with a dollop of butter on the side and a little bowl of yogurt sweetened with brown sugar or with some Indian pickle (achaar) on the side.”
— Chef Anupy Singla
This is the first time we have made this particular recipe (even though we have often made other flatbreads), so please forgive our relative newbie-ness.
Below is the recipe. Before you begin, here are a couple of tips:
About hard to find ingredients: I could not find mango powder or fenugreek leaves, so I asked Anupy what would be good substitutes. She said that those ingredients could be left out if not available. But I was also encouraged to be creative if I wanted to. The result would just not be the recipe she is recommending. I stayed uncreative and left them out.
Regarding chiles: I have to admit that I left them out because we are just wimps about really hot food. So I opted for a TINY pinch of cayenne. If you want to go with Anupu’s recipe, add to the potato mix: 2 – 3 Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, chopped and 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne.
About the flour: Chapati flour is finely ground hard durham wheat. If you cannot find it, use whole white wheat pastry flour instead. Or you also can substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour mixed with 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour.
Aloo ka Paratha — Indian Potato Stuffed Flatbread (Printer Friendly Version)
For Potato Stuffing
4 medium potatoes boiled, peeled, and mashed (4 cups)
1 tablespoon oil
1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small yellow or red onion, peeled and minced (1/2 cup)
2 – 3 Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, chopped
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
1 teaspoon mango powder (amchur)
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves (lightly crushed to release flavor)
For Basic Roti (Bread) Dough
3 cups (603 g) chapati flour (aata)
1-½ cups water
1 tablespoon oil (optional)
Keep a shallow dish of extra flour on the rolling surface for dipping the dough gently during rolling. Have a cooling rack ready, plus oil, ghee or butter to glaze the Roti.
- Put mashed potatoes in a deep bowl.
- In a heavy pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Add cumin and turmeric, and cook until the seeds sizzle – about 30 seconds.
- Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
- Add this mixture to the potatoes along with the green chiles, red chile and mango powders, garam masala, salt, and fenugreek leaves. Mix everything together. I prefer to mix it by hand to make sure the potatoes are completely mashed. (Larger pieces of potato will break through your dough when you stuff it later. If you want to avoid touching the chilies, either use a large spoon/fork or wear kitchen gloves.)
- Make the bread dough (roti) by mixing the flour, water, and the optional oil in a food processor until it makes a firm ball or by hand in a deep bowl.
- Once the stuffing is finished, you can start rolling out the roti dough. Start by making a basic roti. Pull off a piece about the size of a golf ball (about 2 inches in diameter) and roll it between both palms to mold it into a ball. Press it between both palms to flatten it slightly, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 5 inches in diameter.
- Take a dollop of the spicy potato filling (a heaping tablespoon) and put it right in the middle of the beginnings of your roti. Wrap all sides so they fold over and meet in the middle – essentially making a square. Take this and dip it lightly in dry flour on both sides.
- Roll it out on a surface lightly dusted with flour until it’s thin and circular, about 10 inches in diameter. It may not be perfectly round, and some of the filling might come through slightly, but that’s all okay.
- Heat a tava or heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, place the paratha in the pan and heat for 30 seconds – until it’s just hard enough to flip over. This step is critical in making really delicious parathas. You’ve got to turn it early enough so it does not harden or dry out. It will look like it’s just about to cook and still a little raw. Cook 30 seconds on the other side. Meanwhile, lightly oil the side that is facing you, flip it over, lightly oil the other side, and cook both sides until they brown slightly. Serve immediately with butter, sweet soy yogurt, or Indian pickle (achaar).
- But if you do have to store them for later, wrap a cooled stack in paper towel, then wrap the whole package in foil and refrigerate. They will keep for up to a week. (But there is no need for that in our house.)