Delicious with butter, and often enjoyed with tea, this is a dried, crispy bread that folds into itself so it has multiple layers, much like a croissant, or a very basic puff pastry. But don’t panic, it’s not as complex as the turning process required for croissants — the layers are achieved by a few simple folds.
The key is not to overthink it. You are basically making a roti with the dough recipe, and then layering the roti by rolling the roti, and then pressing it down and rolling again.
There is a special way to get the roti to be soft and crumbly; this is by putting your hands on either side and ‘clapping’ the roti. If this is a bit hard or the roti is too hot, try placing it in a plastic takeaway container and shaking it. The dough should be nice and flaky.
For the dough, add the flour, rice bran oil, salt and water (you will need enough water to make a soft but non-sticky dough) to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix the dough for 5 minutes. If making by hand, knead the mixture on a lightly floured bench really well for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic, and not sticky to the touch.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1–3 hours, then divide the dough into six portions. Roll out each portion very thinly, into rounds about 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter, and about 5 mm (¼ inch) thick.
Lay the first paratha on a floured work surface and generously spread with melted ghee. Cut the paratha from the centre to the edge, just once, so you can then roll it into a cone. Stand the cone on its end and roll it into a roti shape again. It will look like a snail pastry; this will give you the layers.
Repeat with the remaining parathas, until you have finished all six. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rest for a further 1 hour.
Cook the parathas on the oiled flat plate of a hot barbecue, a flat round grill (such as a tawa) or in a heavy-based frying pan for 2–4 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown. As soon as you remove them from the grill or pan, put each one on a flat surface and clap it together two or three times to make it flaky.
The parathas are best served warm, straight away.
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