Potato and Cauliflower aka Aloo Gobi Parathas

I’m constantly griping about my weight and I don’t agree that it’s a woman thing.. to gripe about weight, that is. It’s a ‘Me’ thing.

So I love all kinds of fried food, potato chips and crisps included (especially the kind with extra salt and vinegar) and butter, though I have cut down on the last named item a bit.

Oh the sacrifices ones taste-buds have to make in the name of healthy eating! ;-)

I’m waiting for the weather to turn, and the rains to start and I’ll put on my walking shoes and start my 3km walks which will build up to 5kms and more and be happy. My bad knees don’t quite let me run, not on concrete or tarred roads anyway, and the walking track laid out in the park near my house is full of the ambling sort swapping daughter-in-law stories or tales about the stock market. Little has changed in the world… and then there’s the tattooed, bright blue streaked haired waif who breezes past in a brisk clippity-clop kind of walk, like she’s practising for the 50km at the London Olympic Games. And the heavy-set ma’s-in-law stop as do the paunchy men… everyone looks on, in envy… almost.

But back to food and I’ve decided to go Indian today and dish up some parathas (or stuffed Indian fried flat-bread). Parathas are of course right up there with my favourite things, but I don’t make them very often. I could bake them of course… but then, I like them the way they’re meant to be eaten, with a liberal dose of pure ghee (clarified butter) and with some yoghurt (or dahi as we call it) and some pickle (achar) on the side. I also love experimenting with different kinds of fillings in the parathas; potato (aloo), radish (mooli), pea (mutter), cauliflower (phool-gobi), paneer (cottage cheese) and even minced chicken or beef. This time I combined two of my favourites, potatoes and cauliflower or Aloo Gobi, combined them with onions, chillies, garlic and a bunch of spices, then roasted them on the tava or griddle pan before frying them in ghee.

Here’s what you need to make these parathas -

For the dough -

2 1/2 cups Whole wheat flour (+ extra while kneading and making the parathas)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup whipped yoghurt (dahi)

1/2 cup water (at room temperature)

For the filling -

1 1/2 cups grated cauliflower (raw)

1 large potato (boiled and roughly chopped)

1 medium onion – minced (I used a white onion)

5 – 6 cloves of garlic – minced

2 green chillies (chopped)

1 teaspoon salt

8 – 10 curry leaves – chopped

3 tablespoons chopped coriander

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

large pinch of chilli powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

pinch of garam masala

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (shah-jeera)

pinch of dried bishops weed (ajwain) (optional)

2 tablespoons oil

a squeeze of lime juice

And lets not forget the ingredient that brings it all home

The ghee or clarified butter for frying. I generally use about 1/2 tablespoon ghee per paratha but you can reduce the amount if you like, or use a vegetable oil instead (sunflower oil would be ideal).

Start by boiling the potato and roughly chopping it while still hot. Then grate the cauliflower. Keep the potato and grated cauliflower aside while you sauté the onion in vegetable oil into which you’ve added caraway seeds and bishops weed. Add the garlic, curry leaves and chillies and sweat them down before you put in the spices. Fry the spices on low (adding in the salt), till the oil separates and immediately add in the cauliflower. Allow it to cook for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Mash the potato up a bit and finish with the chopped fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice.

Take the veggie filling off the heat and leave it aside to cool while you get started on the dough.

To make the dough I’ve used yoghurt, vegetable oil, salt all mixed together, along with some water and the flour. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the yoghurt and oil mix, and fold the flour into the yoghurt, adding a little water at a time until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 – 12 minutes until soft and pliable. Cover the dough with a damp tea-towel and keep it aside for about 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, give it a quick knead and divide it into equal sized balls. I didn’t want a very thick paratha, preferring to keep the casing for the filling thin and crisp rather than thick, and I managed to get 11 parathas out the dough. And guess what… the filling too was just perfect for the parathas, not a teaspoon more.

Roll the dough ball in your hands and pat it down. You can either use a rolling pin to roll it out just a bit (about 3″ in diameter) or flatten out the dough ball using your fingers to create a little receptacle for the filling. Place the filling into the dough and pinch it shut, folding over to seal the opening shut. Flatten the filled dough-ball, dip it in flour to coat it well and roll it out with the rolling pin to the thickness you desire… I wouldn’t recommend exceeding 3 – 4mm. Heat the griddle pan till hot, then turn down the heat and place the paratha on the pan, roasting it on one side and then the other for about 2 minutes per side or till you begin to see light brown marks appearing on the parathas. You’ll need to do this a couple of times each side, turning then over to ensure that the parathas get evenly roasted.

Add the ghee, smearing it around, first on one side, then flip the paratha over and smear the ghee on the other side, raise the heat up a notch. Press the paratha down with the back of the spatula, and fry the parathas till they take on a lovely golden hue.

Serve the parathas piping hot with some plain yoghurt…

Spicy Minced Chicken Buns

I made my first submissions to YeastSpotting last week and it’s got me pretty fired up. Which basically means that on any given day after all my other work is done, I’m hands deep in flour. Which also means that I probably need to invest in a bread-machine. But then I don’t want to lose the thrill of kneading the dough, working it, while it clings to your fingers at first and then lets go… that’s something which will be hard to pass up.

So no bread-machine… well at least for now. At least not until I decide to open a little bakery or follow my heart and head to the hills and open my little café.

I heard raucous shouts this morning while I was fixing my mug of coffee. There’s work going on in the building complex next door, and the migrant labourers the contractor has employed all sleep in the stilt parking space on the ground floor of the building facing mine. They’ve mosquito netted their sleep area, wise in this season, where despite the repellents the critters still manage to sneak in. Anyway, today’s raucousness was the result of a rather exuberant lot of the younger men, boys really, playing football (soccer), with an old pretty beat-up and tattered ball. But that didn’t stifle their enthusiasm. They played with such abandon, shouting out at each other to pass the ball, then deftly manoeuvring it through the obstacle-course of bamboo poles, clumps of rope and pipes.

Goal! one of them yelled, as he shot the ball into what was apparently the goal, and his team converged on him, the opposing goalie looking crestfallen for a second and then joining in the cheering.

What joy. I almost forgot I had other things to do.

Which brings me to some of my favourite things and that includes, stuffed buns or bread-rolls. My favourites, the minced meat ones, the spicier the better.

Spicy Minced Chicken Buns

The dough for these is a very simple one. 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, a teaspoon of sugar, about 12gms fresh yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 to a cup of warm water, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Activate the yeast (with warm water and sugar), then add the flour, salt and olive oil. Knead for 12 – 15 minutes till the dough is soft and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or till slightly more than doubled.

In the meantime get your filling ready. I filled the buns with spicy minced chicken. So for about 400gms chicken, use 2 scallions, 4 large pods of garlic, a 1″ piece of ginger (more if you like), and 2 green chillies – all minced. Sautéing them in 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, with salt to taste, a large pinch of pepper, a teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder, a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, paprika and garam masala, and a pinch of clove powder. Do not add any water while cooking the mince. Keep it covered and on a low flame, breaking down the meat and separating it with a fork to prevent it from clumping together. Finish with a squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of garam masala (another 1/2 teaspoon) and two tablespoons chopped fresh coriander. Cook till all the moisture evaporates and set it aside to cool.

Spicy Minced Chicken

Now return to the dough…

Once your dough has risen (1 1/2 to 2 hours), knock it back and knead lightly, then roll it out into a log and cut out 12 pieces. Knead each piece for a bit, then using your fingers stretch out the dough to make a cup for the mince and spoon in 3 teaspoonfuls of the spicy meat.

Pinch the dough together to close and work it for a bit to shape till round. Place on a cornmeal dusted baking tray. Allow to rise for about 30 – 40 minutes.

Preheat your oven at 230 degrees C. Brush the top of the buns with an eggwash, and sprinkle with seeds or herbs of your choice. I used poppy seeds and paprika for one lot and sesame seeds and ground cumin for the other… just coz they looked so pretty.

Poppy seed and Paprika

Sesame and Cumin sprinkled

And baked them for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Two for One...

They were just a bit spicy (the chillies were hot and I didn’t remove the seeds), but the bread around it provided the perfect foil to the spiciness of the mince. And they turned out refreshingly light. I ate three at a go. I really mustn’t.

Off to YeastSpotting they go!