Alu Paratha (Potato Stuffed Paratha)
These parathas are the most popular of all stuffed parathas in India. You can get them at almost all north Indian restaurants, including roadside restaurants called 'Dhabas', freshly made and crisp. They are mostly eaten for breakfast, crispy and hot, straight off the 'tava' or griddle. Other vegetables or dals can also be used as a stuffing. They are best served with a few pickles, yoghurt or a glass of ice cold Lassi 1/Lassi 2/Lassi 3. Makes 15.
In the beginning, it is better to have two people working together, one rolling out and the other cooking. Read notes to see how to make Alu Parathas in advance and how to freeze them.
Edited October 2018 to increase the amount of filling per paratha to more than double the amount than I used to fill, as learnt from a Punjabi friend of mine, Vimal Berry, whose parathas are always the best.
2 kg potatoes
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped or grated*
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped*
1 inch piece of ginger, very finely grated*
A small bunch of coriander leaves (1/4 cup) finely chopped (optional-some people do not like coriander leaves))
1/4 tsp. chilli powder (to taste)
1 tsp. coriander powder
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. amchoor or dry mango powder (don't worry if you can't find it)
1 tsp. salt
*These ingredients can be chopped together in a food processor, instead of chopping individually by hand.
For the dough
500 gm./3 cups chapatti flour
300 ml. water approximately. Add a little more or a little less until you get a soft dough.
2 tbsp. ghee or butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ajwain or carom seeds
Enough water to make dough
Oil for pan frying
Making the filling
Boil potatoes in their skin until tender. I usually use a microwave steamer (full pressure for about 8-10 minutes), it is much easier. You can also cook them in a pressure cooker. Indians usually boil potatoes in their skin, not after peeling.
Cool, peel and mash. I often use a potato masher/ricer for this.
Add onion, ginger and green chilli mix, all the spices, chopped coriander leaves and salt. Mix well. The mix should be dry, free of water. Otherwise, it will be difficult to roll out parathas. Spices you add to the potato mash can vary according to taste and what you have available. Keep aside.
Making dough (can be made while potatoes are boiling)
Save 2-3 tablespoons of dry flour on a plate, for dusting while rolling out parathas.
Mix the remaining flour, salt, ajwain and 2 tbsp. oil or ghee and add enough water to make a dough. If you are new at making parathas, it is better to have a firm dough, which is easier to control while rolling out. Experienced cooks prefer a little softer dough, which make softer parathas.
Knead well for a minute or two, enough to bring it all together.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes or so. Knead briefly again.
Rolling out parathas
Break dough into approximately 10-12 portions. Keep covered with a moist cloth.
Dust 1 ball with flour and roll out to a full chapatti size, 16-18 cm.
Take roughly 1/10th of the filling and place in the centre of the circle. Pull in edges and gather in the centre. Now trim off the extra dough with scissors, as shown. The paratha ball looks over full at this stage, but it is the filling that gives it an extra special taste.
Dip the stuffed dough ball in dusting flour on both sides and roll out gently, to approximately 16 cm. in size. Roll from centre outwards, so that the edges are thinner than the centre. You will need to dust it with dry flour a couple of times during the rolling out process. If a little filling escapes, don't worry, just remove it.
Cooking the parathas
heat tava/griddle to medium hot, not smoking hot. Paratha cooked slowly on medium heat will be crisp and tasty.
Lift off the rolled paratha and place it gently onto the heated tava/griddle. Turn it over when it changes colour slightly, you can see a few blisters on the under surface.
Cook the other side the same way. Turn it over again.
Brush oil on both surfaces, one by one, using a long handled spoon or ladle.
Press gently all over, using a flat spatula. This helps to fluff it up into a ball, as well as making it crisp. Cook until nicely browned and crisp on both sides. It is important that you crisp the paratha on medium heat and not cook them too fast.
Making Alu Parathas in advance: Parathas can be made in advance. Cool them spread out on a towel, then stack them up on top of each other and wrap in Aluminium foil. Cooling first will stop them sticking together. When ready to eat, heat/crisp them on a tava/griddle again. and chilled or frozen.
Freezing Alu parathas: Cool them spread out on a towel, then stack them up on top of each other. Now place the required numbers in plastic bags and freeze. If you are unable to recycle plastic and you are cutting down on plastic use, wrap them in aluminium foil, which is easily recycled.
Parathas can be de-frosted and re-heated before serving, either individually on a griddle or spread out on a tray under a hot grill. Place 1 paratha on a hot griddle or tava and allow it to become crisp on both sides.
They can be cut in wedges, like pizza, and served as starters.