My mother makes the best parathas. I know evvveryone thinks that about their mother, but it’s true! Hers really are the best! Thin, flaky, golden, and yet they simply melt in your mouth. Literally. They are unbelievable. I admit, I didn’t take full advantage of having the luxury of having someone make parathas for me when I was in Pakistan, but after coming here, I couldn’t believe that I had taken them for granted!
My brothers, on the other hand, knew a good thing when they ate it! They would eat (say it fast) ‘paratha, anda, doodh, shehd, makhan, malai’ (paratha, egg, milk, honey, butter and cream) all day long.
So now, whenever my mother visits, I ask her to make a paratha for me for breakfast every single morning. And while I go to sleep every night feeling very guilty about chowing down this very rich breakfast and decide that I won’t eat then anymore from tomorrow, my resolve completely breaks once the sun comes up. My mother usually has the dough out and all ready to go by the time I wake up, and at that point I can almost smell the dough frying, and almost taste it melting on my tongue. And so, I tell myself, Ok. Just one more day.
I feel that my mother’s melt in the mouth parathas are very unique to her, but all good cooks have their own style of making parathas, and really, how can you go wrong with anything that is fried? My late aunt, whom I was very close to, and who was very petite herself, made awesome, perfectly round parathas, which were also gigantic! She could never find a tawa (cast iron pan) that was big enough for her parathas!!! They were always falling over the edges! But still, yummilicious!
And then my mother’s aunt, who made these thick parathas for us to snack on in the late afternoon. I remember my cousin and I as kids, sitting on a doormat (random detail- ok now that I’ve mentioned it, I might as well add that we used to think doormats were mini carpets made especially for us) listing all the things that we wanted (in life?) and number one on our list was a stack of Khala Jan’s Parathas that extended from the floor to the ceiling.
Parathas are tricky to get just right. They do take some practice. The flakiness and layers are very important. That’s what makes it a paratha. Otherwise, it’s just an oily roti.
Here, I will outline all the steps to making perfect parathas!
First, you need to make the dough. Read my how-to guide on this, How to Knead the Perfect Dough for Rotis/Parathas.
- Take a piece of the dough and form a ball. Flatten the ball with your fingers and pinch the edges so that they roll out thin.
- Roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, dusting with more flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Note that well kneaded dough will not need a lot of flour.
- Spread softened butter on it. Roll it up and stretch it to form a rope. Make a spiral with the rope, pinching the end in. This process will make flaky, melt-in-the-mouth layers. Press the spiral down and roll it out again using a rolling pin.
- Carefully lift it up and slap it between your hands a few times to shake off the excess flour and stretch it a bit. If you’re a novice, then carefully transfer from one hand to the other a couple of times.
- Place on a hot pan, with the heat between medium high and high. The pan should be thoroughly heated. This is very important. The longer the paratha cooks, the harder it will get.
- Add about 1-2 tbsp of oil. The paratha will start to puff up as it cooks. Turn it over. If your paratha didn’t puff, don’t let it sit waiting for it to do so! Turn over in about 15-20 seconds. As you turn it over a couple of times, it will get coated with the oil. I don’t like over-oily parathas, and this method keeps the oil to a minimum.
- Cook until both the sides turn golden brown. It should cook quickly (not so quick that it burns, of course) Turn often to make sure it doesn’t burn. If the the pan isn’t hot enough or the heat is too low, then the paratha will become hard.
- If one part of the paratha is getting over done, while the other is under done, then lift the over done side up with tongs, allowing only the under done side to touch the surface of the pan, and fry until done.
- Serve hot!
You can also fold it up into a square and make square shaped parathas! After spreading with butter, fold it to form a square, carefully roll it out, maintaining the shape, and fry it up! (Hopefully do a little better than I did.)
Cookie Cutter Parathas
Somehow I got to thinking about how much time and effort people here invest in making decorative, beautiful, fun things, especially in confectionary. And I came up with the idea of making fun shaped parathas. I took out my cookie cutters, rolled out a large paratha, and started cutting. I made flower shaped parathas and heart shaped parathas. So, the food blogger, innovative side of me says, ‘Oh, look at this! You can do all sorts of shapes and it’s so fun!’
And then there’s just plain old me. And I simply can’t figure out why anyone would put so much effort into doing something that is such a waste of time! They don’t keep like cookies do, for you to spend hours on them. Parathas have to be eaten piping hot! Plus, you only get bite sized parathas, (good for kids?). Ok, if you want to put that much effort into it, to make it special, or for your kids to cut the shapes with you, I guess it might be worthwhile. But honestly, I don’t want these little scraps. Just give me a nice big paratha and a big cup of sweet tea and I’ll be in Breakfast Heaven!
But you know, that’s just me. Maybe the cookie cutter parathas work for you. Just follow your heart. 🙂
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