OMG the Food: The Basics – Parathas part II, Gobi, Mooli, Palak, Dal, Channa and Besan Paratha.

Good morning everyone,Here’s the second part of a post I’ve been dreading.  Parathas.  How lucky am I?  All joking aside, parathas are delicious and quite varied.  You can literally fill them with just about anything you want.  We, of course, are vaishno so we’ll be stuffing them full of things that do not contain any meat, fish, poultry or egg.  Despite the lack of fleshy bits, there are still an outstanding variety of these addictive little fried flatbreads.Parathas are generally breakfast food but they can be eaten any time of the day.  Because they are fried however, and generally generously loaded with ghee and oils, they aren’t particularly healthy, so we’ll have these as a treat once a week or so.

First you will need our chappati dough from the earlier post, except for when we get to the besan paratha.  For that, we’ll be making the dough separately.

Now the terms:
Gobi is cauliflower
Mooli is radish, this is also known as daikon
Palak or saag is spinach
Dal is lentil
Channa is chickpea and finally
Besan is a flour made from chickpeas

For the first six parathas the procedure is identical but the ingredients vary so we’ll just be giving the instructions for preparing the filling followed by instructions for how to cook the paratha.

Gobi Paratha Filling

Gobi paratha take second place in my heart next to aloo (potato) paratha.  If you’re accustomed to the western, boiled cauliflower bits like my mother used to make, you’re in for a wonderful surprise!  These are absolutely delicious and you would never know that there was cauliflower inside.  This is a good way to hide healthy, healthy cauliflower from your kids if you’re trying to get them to try new vegetables.  We like ours super spicy so you might want to tone the recipe down a little.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
2 green chilies, chopped finely
1/2 tsp Panjabi garam masala
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 red (Spanish) onion, chopped finely

Preparing the Filling

Grate the cauliflower finely.  Add the chopped chilies, garam masala, salt and onion and mix well.  Set aside while you roll out the paratha dough.

Mooli Paratha Filling

Mooli (or daikon) radishes have a heat all of their own, like other members of the radish family.  Slightly salty with a strong acidity, you might really want to cut back on the chilies in this filling.  However, we love the mooli.  We’re all about the mooli made extra hot with the chilies.  We fill out the flavour a little with a little bit of garlic.

Ingredients

1 medium mooli (daikon)
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Panjabi garam masala
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 large clove garlic, finely minced

Preparing the filling

Grate the mooli finely.  Add all remaining ingredients for the filling and mix thoroughly.  Set aside while you roll out the paratha dough.

Palak Paratha Filling

Nothing beats the goodness of dark green vegetables, full of iron, vitamins and natural fibre.  You can also sub out the palak (spinach) in this recipe for fresh fenugreek leaves or lemony sorrel.  I recommend the lemon pickle with these paratha.

Ingredients

250 g spinach, stems removed
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ajwain seed
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 pinch of asafoetida, (also known as hing, available in Indian markets)

Preparing the Filling

Add 1/2″ water to the bottom of a pot and steam the spinach until just wilted.  Remove and drain the spinach, squeezing it to get out all the excess water.  Allow it to cool then chop in a blender until finely chopped.  Remove it to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  Set filling aside while you roll out the paratha dough.

Dal Paratha Filling

Dal is a staple in our household.  When we’re really lucky, the local supermarket carried large bags of moong dal in the ethnic food section and we’re able to stock up.  Otherwise, it is difficult to find in our small, northern town.  The dal in this recipe can be substituted for any other type of lentil – brown, red, yellow or green.  Follow the package directions for how long to soak the lentil before use.

Ingredients

1/2 cup moong dal (husked green dal), soaked for at least an hour
1/2 cup cumin seeds, ground lightly in a mortar and pestle
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida (also known as hing, available in Indian markets)
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Preparing the filling

Drain the dal.  Bring one cup of water to boil over medium-high heat.  Cook the dal for about 40 – 45 minutes and allow to cool.  Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp of canola oil.  Add the cumin and asafoetida.  When the cumin sputters add the dal and remaining ingredients.  Cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  When cool, continue with preparing the paratha dough for cooking.

Channa Paratha Filling

The first time I ate chickpeas (channa) was in hummus.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  Now that I’m a vegetarian, channa are an important source of dietary fibre and protein.  There are about 19g of protein and 17g of fibre in every 100g of channa.  I like the reminder of hummus that the grated lime gives this recipe.  When I first made it for the future mother-in-law, I think she thought I was nuts, but every last paratha disappeared and this paratha version has become a favourite.

Ingredients

1 cup channa, soaked overnight
2 cups water
1 small red (Spanish) onion, chopped finely
2 green chilies, chopped finely
1/4 tsp ajwain seeds
1/2 tsp Panjabi garam masala
1/2 tsp amchor powder
grated rind from 1/2 lime

Preparing the filling

If you are using dried chickpeas, they must be soaked at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.  Put the soaked channa in a pressure cooker with the water.  Cook for 2 whistles (see tips below) – any more than that is going to result in channa paste.  Release the pressure in the cooker and cool until it is safe to open.  Drain the channa in a colander or strainer for at least 15 minutes.  The channa must not have any water left in it or your paratha will fall apart.  Mix all the other ingredients with the channa and set aside while you prepare the dough.

Cooking the Parathas

Break off a piece of chappati dough roughly the size of your palm and roll this between your hands into a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls into small circles about 1/2″ thick.  Place about 1 1/2 tbsp of the filling into the centre of the dough and then wrap the edges around the filling to again form a ball slightly larger than the palm of your hand.  Lightly sprinkle flour on top of the ball and gently roll the paratha until it is about 1/4″ thick.

In the meantime, heat up your chappati pan or a large flat bottomed pan, adding a small amount of oil or ghee.  For each paratha, one at a time, place the paratha in the pan.  When one side has browned slightly, flip it over and brush or spread some oil or ghee on the browned side.  Flip two or three times more until the paratha is well cooked.  If you want, you can add some more oil or ghee at this time.  We prefer our parathas drier so we skip this.

Serve parathas hot with curd, lime pickle or lemon pickle.  You can also top the parathas with butter when serving.

Tips:  Garam masala is simply a spice mixture whose contents depend on the region it was made or on the homemaker who blended the spice.  Panjabi garam masala is available in most Indian markets and contains cinnamon, a little turmeric, cloves and other spices which combine to make a unique and wonderful flavour in your food.

Amchor is a dry mango powder available in Indian markets and occasionally in some of the larger supermarkets in Canada.  It adds a bit of a tart flavour to the recipe and should be used sparingly.  If you can’t find amchor, try adding a little grated lemon or lime rind.

Ajwain seeds are also called carom seeds and are available in Indian markets and even in some of the larger supermarkets in Canada.

Moong dal is a legume/lentil that is available in Indian markets and often in Vietnamese markets.  When we are lucky, our local store carries large bags of moong dal and I stock up.

We don’t use minutes to time cooking in a pressure cooker because every cooker is too different.  Instead, we use “whistles”.  When the pressure cooker has built up sufficient pressure (and therefore intense heat), it will begin to whistle, or release steam from the valve at the top of the cooker.  When enough steam has been released, the valve will sink back down, ready for the next build up of pressure.  Each release is one whistle.  You can then “time” the process by the number of times this release occurs (or the number of whistles).

As always, feel free to experiment with the spices in this recipe.  You’re the expert eater so you’ll know what you like.  I sometimes add some finely chopped red onion to mine.  You know … when I eat them.  Because they’re so addictive, that’s not a lot … oh there has to be a support group out there for paratha addicts.

Make sure you chop the onions and chilies and other chopped or grated ingredients finely otherwise your parathas will tear when you are rolling them.

Besan Paratha

Besan is a flour ground from chickpeas.  It comes as pure besan or blended with other flours.  For this recipe, we used pure besan flour.  It may seem odd to use a flour as a filling in this way but this is as delicious as the rest.  It is typically eaten on cold Panjabi mornings.  And here we go.  This recipe will make 8 – 10 paratha.

Ingredients
Dough:

2 cups atta flour
3 tsp curd (yogourt), more or less
Tiny pinch of salt

Filling:
1 cup roasted besan flour (dry roasted in a pan until the flour gives off a nutty smell and changes colour slightly), also known as chickpea flour or gram flour
1 small thumb ginger, finely ground
2 green chilies, finely chopped

Method

Combine all the dough ingredients together in a bowl and knead into a soft, smooth dough.  If the dough is stiff, add a little water.  If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.  Mix all of the filling ingredients separately in another bowl and set aside.  Break off a piece of the dough roughly the size of your palm and roll this between your hands into a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls into small circles about 1/2″ thick.  Spread about 1 1/2 tbsp of the filling into the centre of the dough and then wrap the edges around the filling to again form a ball slightly larger than the palm of your hand.  Lightly sprinkle flour on top of the ball and gently roll the paratha until it is about 1/4″ thick.

In the meantime, heat up your chappati pan or a large flat bottomed pan, adding a small amount of oil or ghee.  For each paratha, one at a time, place the paratha in the pan.  When one side has browned slightly, flip it over and brush or spread some oil or ghee on the browned side.  Flip two or three times more until the paratha is well cooked.  If you want, you can add some more oil or ghee at this time.  We prefer our parathas drier so we skip this.

Serve parathas hot with curd, lime pickle or lemon pickle.  You can also top the parathas with butter when serving.

Feel free to experiment.  If you try some awesome (vegetarian) fillings that we haven’t thought of, let me know!  We’re always looking for awesome things to try around here.  Let me know how it goes!

Until next time,
Peace & love,
Himmatpreet

 

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