Potato-Stuffed Parathas

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A Rajasthani version of aloo paratha, this bread, called alookar roti in Udaipur, is delicious and not hard to make. I learned it from Sangana Bai’s daughters (see “My First Tandoor”) in Udaipur, in southern Rajasthan. It’s one of many simple and inventive stove-top dishes they taught me. A basic chapati dough is rolled out into rounds, then each is spread with some cooked potato filling, folded over it, and rolled out again. The breads are very tender but without any oiliness. The flavors of the potato filling and the bread wrapper blend beautifully. Unlike chapatis, these breads can be made an hour ahead; they’ll stay tender and soft, even if reheated on a griddle.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups atta flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1 cup lukewarm water
  • About 2 cups Spicy Potato Filling, at room temperature
  • About 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method

Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. With the machine running, add the water through the feed tube and process until a ball of dough forms. Process for another 30 seconds, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the water and stir, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until very smooth.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand for at least 30 minutes or, preferably, for 2 hours (the longer wait makes the dough easier to handle).

Meanwhile, if you have not done so already, prepare the potato filling and let it cool. Mash any larger lumps with the back of a spoon.

Cut the dough in half and set one half aside, covered. Cut the other half into four pieces. Flatten each one into a disk with the palm of your hand, and press both sides of each disk onto a floured surface to flour it. Working on a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll out one disk to an approximately 8-inch round, rotating the dough after each stroke of the pin and rolling with light strokes; do not turn the bread over. Set aside, loosely covered, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the potato filling over one half of one of the dough rounds, then fold the bare half over to make a half-moon shape. Fold in half again to make a quarter-round (wedge) shape; use a lightly floured hand to flatten this out a little, and then roll it out to a rough round 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Don’t worry if the edges are a little uneven, or if a little potato leaks out. Shape the remaining breads the same way.

Begin cooking these first breads while you start to divide, fill, and roll out the other half of the dough: Place a heavy cast-iron skillet over high heat. When it is hot, add about 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and use a wadded-up cloth or paper towel to spread it all over the pan to grease it well. Place a pastry brush and a small bowl of oil near your stove top. Lower the heat to medium-high or medium, and place the first bread top side down in the hot skillet. Cook for about 45 seconds, then turn over. The top should have lightly browned patches; brush all over with a little oil. Cook on the second side for about 1½ minutes, then turn over again and cook for another 30 seconds, or until well browned in patches. Lift out onto a plate, and cover to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining breads, re-oiling the skillet each time with about 1 teaspoon oil.

Once you become practiced, you will be able to roll out and shape breads easily while you are cooking others.

Serve for a snack on their own or with a raita (see “The Raita Family”) or a fresh chutney such as Fresh Coriander–Peanut Chutney or Tart Mango Salsa. Served with a dal such as Udaipur Urad Dal or a Western-style soup or stew and perhaps a simple salad such as Pea Tendrils with Coconut, these make a satisfying meal.

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