I love paratha. I like any food that has layers of deliciousness that are fun to peel apart and eat. I’ve tried making it myself many times, but the results tend to be tough, oily, and stodgy. Not the delightful combination of light flakiness and pleasantly substantial whole-wheatiness that is paratha. The other day I decided to cheat a bit, by deploying a sneaky application of puff pastry techniques. That’s right! I added butter. Because everything is better with butter. I used a combination of whole wheat flour and white flour (with a bit of basil, because I love basil with curry flavors). I rubbed olive oil into the bulk of the flour, and I made a little square lozenge of frozen grated butter and a tiny bit of flour to wrap inside the dough. I cooked them on a skillet till they got nice brown spots, then put them in the toaster oven till they puffed a bit. They turned out quite nice. Not completely like paratha, but with their own charm. The outside was a little crispier, and the inside was nice and flaky and layered.
Here’s Booker T and the MG’s with Jelly Bread.
1 1/4 cups white flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 t. salt
6 T butter frozen
3 T olive oil (plus more for brushing the breads)
1/2 t. white pepper
1 t. basil
Grate the frozen butter into a bowl. Add 2 T of flour. Mix it all together, and then knead lightly until you can form it into a little square. About 2 inches by 2 inches by 1/2 inch.
Meanwhile… In a big bowl combine the flours, salt, basil, and pepper. Add the olive oil, and rub between your palms until it’s well-incorporated. Then stir in enough cold water to bring it all together into a workable dough. Knead for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.
Make it into a ball. Squash it slightly. Cut an X in the middle with a knife, and pull the pieces apart to form a cloverleaf. With a rolling pin, roll this out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the buttery lozenge in the middle, and fold all the leaves of the clover over. One at a time. Pressing lightly to seal. To see all of these steps illustrated, check out this puff pastry primer.
Squash the whole thing down till it’s about 1/2 inch high, being careful not to squish the butter out.
Roll it into a big rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush lightly with olive oil, and fold like an envelope.
Put this in the fridge and let it sit about 1/2 hour.
Then roll it out again, brush lightly with olive oil again, and fold it up again.
Ideally, you’d repeat these steps 5 times. But as many as you have time for is fine.
The last time you roll the dough into a rectangle, fold it up like a jelly roll. It should be, maybe, 14-16 inches long.
Cut it into 8 pieces. (for quite small little flat breads. Fewer pieces=bigger breads!)
Squash each down, and roll it out to be about 8 inches in diameter, and 1/8 inch thick. They tend to shrink a little as they cook and puff.
Brush each side with olive oil, and place it on a hot griddle until it gets little brown specks. Turn it over and wait for the spots to appear.
Then, if you put it in a toaster oven or under a broiler for a minute or two, it should puff up a bit. But watch it! You don’t want it to burn.
Keep it in a warm oven till you have them all done.
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