A paratha is a wonderful thing; a bit like a sandwich it can be filled with all sorts of things and make a one dish meal. More restaurants are opening up here with just parathas on the menu.
I recall that in Kodaikanal the miniscule restaurants along the one main road that exists there, serving quite awful food to the hungry students of the big residential school close by. The inside information was that the safest thing to eat was the cheese paratha, served hot by one of the joints they called a restaurant. They did not have other variations . Keeping ingredients fresh was a problem. Most of them were expensive, having been trucked up the long, winding and sometimes treacherous ghat road. Vegetables were likely to be bad by the time they were served up. Especially if it was not the tourist season when the village became as dead as a dodo, with its few residents and starving students wandering about disconsolately in the mists, in search of a good meal. Eventually everyone would end up at the paratha place. Safe to eat, hot and filling.
I always think the younger Earl of Sandwich pretty enterprising to use his title to market the most upmarket of sandwiches. We should have a Maharaja of Paratha. He would be well employed in working out new variations on the theme. How about a Maratha Paratha? It should do well in Pune.
Meanwhile many of us have our own versions of parathas, not simply the standard methi, gobi, and alu types. Here is my friend Subhasini's great recipe for lentil filled paratha. It makes 8 plump ones, 5" in diameter, and a fabulous one dish dinner.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp ghee
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup channa dal / Bengal gram
1/4 cup toor dal
1/2 " piece of grated ginger
Pinch of haldi
I onion chopped fine
1 green chilli minced
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp ajwain /thymol seeds
2 tbsp ghee or oil
Combine wheat, salt ghee and water to form a ball of dough. Knead for 5minutes. Keep aside covered with plastic or damp cloth
Combine the lentils , turmeric, grated ginger and 1 cup water and cook for 2 whistles in a pressure cooker or over the fire till just done.Drain off any extra water.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee and fry the onion, chilli and ginger garlic paste.
When done add the lentils to the fried ingredients, the lime juice , sprinkle the ajwain and mix well.
Make 8 balls of the dough and roll out into a circle about 3 " in diameter.
Smear a bit of ghee on the circle
and place a spoonful of the mixture in the centre.
Sprinkle some dry whole wheat flour on top and
and then form into a ball by gathering the edges up together. Twist the pointed end and press back into the ball.
Press flat between palms and roll out the stuffed ball into a 5" circle.
Put a spoonful of ghee on the heated tava and slap the paratha onto the tava.
After a few minutes when it has formed brown spots on one side, turn and cook the other side . Smear a little ghee on the edges of the paratha as it is cooking. When the dough is cooked remove from fire and keep warm wrapped in a cloth or paper napkin till all 8 are cooked.
Serve with yogurt/ dahi, raita or any vegetable.