Take a culinary tour of the world and you’ll find many cultures or countries enjoy their own version of the mighty flat bread. Central America & Mexico press theirs out in tortillas; a relatively recent Native American narrative gives us the sweet or savory fry bread; the U.S. serves their pancakes for a hearty breakfast; sweet and savory crêpes dominate food stands and cafes in Paris; Italy touts the most famous flatbread of all – pizza (!); the Middle East enjoy their pita bread and/or lavash as a vehicle for feta cheese, hummus, zatar, and so on. Indian culture is no different, with naan, chapati, and our focus for this recipe – the paratha. Much like flatbreads of other cultures, the simple, yet delicious paratha is a staple in Indian diet.
Traditionally, parathas are made from atta flour, a stoneground wholemeal flour which is high in fiber, fresh, and tasty. Atta flour from India is a soft brown color, and very finely milled. The word paratha is a combination of parat and atta, meaning ‘layers of cooked dough.’ This unleavened flatbread is made by traditionally rolling the dough flat, folding it, rolling it out again, and repeating this, creating a layered effect in the paratha. Each time the dough is drizzled with oil or dressed with ghee, sprinkled with flour, folded and rolled out again. The flattened dough is then baked on a tava (a shallow cast-iron skillet specifically for cooking flatbreads), and then fried lightly. Paratha can also be enjoyed with filling or other ingredients – aloo paratha (potato), paneer paratha (goat cheese), mixed vegetable paratha, gobi paratha (cauliflower), to name a few. But there’s something traditional, basic, and reliable about the plain paratha the simple, warm and butter,