A ‘paratha’ or ‘parantha’ is a filled flatbread where the choices of filling are diverse – potatoes, paneer, green peas, cauliflower, fenugreek leaves, daikon radish, daal, chicken, lamb, the list goes on. Parathas are widely enjoyed through out India. In New Delhi, the capital city of India, there is a street called Gali Paranthe Wali, exclusively lined with eateries selling freshly made parathas with a wide range of fillings. In most Indian restaurants outside India, you are guaranteed to find some kind of paratha on the menu. I’ve also seen an assortment of frozen parathas in my local Indian grocery store to choose from.
Even though most parathas have only one main vegetable or meat in the filling, I am using a combination of leftover broccoli, collard greens and some cooked daal in this recipe. Broccoli and collard greens are quite atypical fillings for a paratha, but if you enjoy green vegetables, you will love this paratha.
Paratha dough is made using whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour or a combination of both. These flours are high in gluten, which is responsible for yielding a dough that is elastic thus providing a stable envelope for the filling. To make a paratha, you form a small ball of dough, make an indentation in it that is large enough to hold the filling. Spoon in enough filling, seal the dough and shape it into a lightly flattened ball. Then you roll the flattened ball until you have a thin disk, and cook it on both sides on a cast iron pan or griddle with some added ghee or oil to yield a crispy layer of bread on the outside with a spicy filling inside.
Paratha fillings should be free of excessive moisture and the ingredients should either be mashed up or minced very very fine. For this recipe, I used a food processor to grate my broccoli, but a box grater will give you the same results. To prepare the collard greens, rinse them thoroughly and remove the tough rib that runs through the center of each leaf. Stack a bunch of leaves with their ribs removed, cut along the length to make long ribbons and then cut across those ribbons to make small bits of collard greens. Season some oil with whole cumin, red chili flakes, toss in the collard greens. When they wilt a bit, add the grated broccoli. When the broccoli loses most of its moisture, add cooked daal and additional seasonings like red chili powder, coriander powder, and turmeric powder. Add salt to taste. This filling is good to eat by itself!
Prep time: 30 mins Time for dough to rest: 1 hr 30 mins Cooking time: 1 hr Makes 16-20 parathas For the dough: 4 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup extra for dusting 3/4 - 1 tsp salt 2 tbsps vegetable oil 1 - 1.5 cups water For filling: 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 bunch collard greens, about 6-8 large leaves, chopped finely 1 crown broccoli, grated 1/2 cup cooked tuvar daal or pigeon peas 1/2 tsp red chili powder 1 tsp coriander powder 1/2 tsp turmeric powder salt to taste Dough: Combine the wheat flour, salt and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add 1 cup of the water first, and then a tbsp at a time, until you have a soft dough that is slightly sticky. Knead the dough right in the bowl until you can get a rough ball. Cover and let rest for at least 1.5 hrs. Prepare the filling while the dough is resting. Filling: Heat oil in a wide bottomed pan. Add the red pepper flakes and cumin to it. When the cumin lightly sizzles, add collard greens. Salt lightly. Saute until the greens have wilted a bit. Introduce the broccoli to the pan. When it has lost its moisture, add the daal and the spices to the mixture. Salt to taste and let cook until the broccoli is soft and there is no more moisture left in the filling. Set aside to cool before making parathas.
Making the parathas: Preheat a pan to medium heat while you start rolling the parathas. The task on hand is to encase about 2 heaped teaspoons of filling with the dough. Place a ball of dough on your floured palm. Using light pressure, flatten the ball of dough on your palm until it is a disk about 3-4 inches in diameter. Spoon the filling on the disk of flattened dough. Pull up the dough around the sides of the filling so that the filling is completed covered by the dough. You should have a small ball again, seal the edges well and place the ball on your lightly work surface, seam side down. Gently press down to form a disk and using a lightly floured rolling pin, proceed to roll the ball of dough and filling. Turn the paratha as needed to make a circular shape. I usually make about 4 parathas this way, and place them on a clean kitchen towel on my kitchen counter. Once I finish cooking this batch of parathas, I turn the heat off the pan and roll out another batch of four. Once you have rolled the paratha, place it on the preheated pan and cook for 30 seconds until the top of the paratha loses some of its moisture. Brush the top of the paratha with 1/4 tsp of vegetable oil and flip it to the other side. Brush the second side with another 1/4 tsp of vegetable oil. Cook each side until it is golden. Remove from pan, brush with butter or melted ghee and serve hot with a big bowl of whole milk yogurt.