My favourite fail safe supper of the moment is Stuffed Paratha – they’re morish, filling and totally delicious. They’re also not fat and salt laden like the ones that you get from some takeaway restaurants. They’re made with the cheapest possible ingredients and if you have left over Aloo Gobi or any spicy, potato and cauliflower or chickpea dry type dish – mash it together and keep it in the fridge or freezer for when you need a meal at a moment’s notice.
You’ll need to make some chapatti dough first, which is the easiest thing to make. There are no hard and fast measurements but here’s a rough guide.
- 3 cups Atta flour (if you have it, this is special flour normally used for chapatti making) OR 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour and 1 1/2 cups white plain flour, if you don’t have atta flour will be just as good. The cups I’m suggesting here can be american measurements or not. Just use any cup or medium sized mug that you have to hand.
- 1 1/2 cups (use the same one that you used for the flour) hot water – or more
- 1 tsp salt (optional)
- 2 tsp sunflower oil
Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the oil and rub together with your fingers. Add the hot water, bearing in mind you will probably need more water, and stir with a wooden spoon until coming together in a ball. Get your hands in there and mix until you end up with a soft dough. It shouldn’t be dry or TOO sticky, but definitely slightly sticky. Add more flour if you accidentally add too much water. Tip out on to a work surface (or ‘the side’ as we say in the West Midlands!) and knead lightly (no longer than about 5 minutes) until the dough is smooth. Put into a plastic bag and leave until needed. You can keep the dough for up to a week in the fridge, but you’ll need to bring it back up to room temperature and knead in a little more flour as it tends to go a bit sticky.
- 2 medium potatoes microwaved until cooked or boiled in their jackets until cooked. Leave to cool.
- 1 small onion, very finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder or flakes (or less, or more!)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander (buy it freshly ground here Sally & Stef Spices)
- 1 tsp garam masala (buy our house blend here Sally & Stef Spices)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric (buy it here Sally & Stef Spices)
- Salt to taste (you need to make it taste quite salty)
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- small handful of coriander finely chopped (optional)
- Possibly some instant mashed potato, in case your finished filling is too wet
Don’t worry if you haven’t got all of the spices you need – just leave the ones you haven’t got, out.
Chop the onion very very finely and cook in a couple of teaspoons of oil until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices and stir well to incorporate. Peel the cooled, cooked potatoes and crumble them into the pan. Mash well with a potato masher until everything is combined. Add 1tsp salt and mix. Then add a small squeeze of lemon juice (not much, you want a very dry filling mixture) and the chopped coriander if using. Taste and add more salt if necessary – don’t forget it needs to taste quite salty as it’s got to flavour a whole chapatti. If the mixture seems wet, add some instant mashed potato a tablespoon at a time until the mixture firms up, although you may not need this. Put in a plastic bag and chill until needed, or freeze.
To assemble and cook
Melt a quarter of a block of butter and leave to one side in a small pan.
Tear off golf ball sized lumps of the dough and roll them into a ball. Dip in flour and roll out thinly and evenly.
Get golf ball sized lumps of the filling and roll them into a ball and put them on top of the chapatti. Gather up the edges to make a large parcel.
Dust the top of the parcel with flour and very gently press them down with before rolling out with your hand or a rolling pin.
Dust with flour underneath the parcel and on top again and then roll out very thinly. Make sure that you don’t press down too hard as tears in the chapatti aren’t good and make it difficult to cook.
Put a tava (Indian frying pan with a low rim) or dry frying pan on a high heat and heat it for 2 or 3 minutes. Place the rolled out paratha onto the dry pan and turn the heat to medium/high. Immediately get on with making your next paratha, whilst keeping one eye on the pan! It takes a bit of co-ordination, but you’ll have it down to a fine art by the fourth one!
Keep the heat on medium high and you’ll soon see little bubbles starting to appear on the top of the paratha which will keep getting bigger. With a spatula, gently lift up the paratha so that you can see underneath and when you see a good scattering of little brown spots (like you can see on the picture above), turn the paratha over to cook. Now you have the brown spots on top and the paratha may start to puff up like in the picture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t, it will still taste good. Cook until underneath has the same brown spots. Brush the top of the paratha with some melted butter and turn the paratha over again. This time, you’re crisping up both sides while finishing off the cooking. Brush a little more butter on the side you can see now, while you’re waiting for the underneath to crisp. Keep lifting the paratha up with the spatula so that you can see how brown underneath is getting – you’re looking for a lovely light, golden brown. Then turn the paratha over one last time to crisp up the top. When both sides are golden and crispy, serve straight away. Wipe the pan with some dry kitchen roll and start on cooking the next one. You can keep the paratha hot in the oven, wrapped in foil but they won’t be as crispy as they are served fresh from the pan.
By this time, you should have drawn crowds waiting for the first one – hot from the pan. You may like to serve it as I did with some yogurt swirled with a little harrisa, or you might want to wolf it down just as it is!
Either way, once you have made your own paratha it will become a regular event in your house!