Sunday, May 1, 2016

Recipe of the month: Paneer Paratha (Cottage Cheese Stuffed Flatbreads)

In a previous aloo paratha post, I have highlighted how making parathas doesn't come naturally to me. Being South Indian, parathas weren't among the staple fare at home so most of my experience with them came from eating at restaurants and dhabas. Sure, my mum did make them occasionally and those would constitute "special" items which me and my siblings would look forward to eagerly. But acquiring any kind of skills or tips/tricks that were essential to making good stuffed parathas was never a part of my early culinary education.

I love all kinds of stuffed parathas. The best thing about them for me (aside from the obvious taste factor) is that a side dish is not required. Give the parathas a good lashing of ghee (yes lashing!), serve with some plain yoghurt, a smidgen of pickle on the side and you have a done deal.

I think over the years, after struggles of every kind, I've gotten infinitely better at making stuffed parathas. I make them regularly for my little ones too and that has also helped me better my technique. From personal experience, I find that using good quality whole wheat flour, adding a little ghee or oil to the dough, kneading the dough with warm water, letting the dough rest, ensuring that the stuffing contains as less moisture as possible and using a gentle pressure while rolling out the parathas are key aspects in paratha-making. I still find it a challenge to get the shape perfectly round but that doesn't bother me anymore. As long as they taste good, I'm good! While aloo parathas still rule the roost and rajma cheese parathas make an appearance every now and then, I seldom try other varieties. I have only vague recollections of making gobi parathas, mixed vegetable parathas and peas parathas in the past. Note to self: MUST broaden paratha repertoire!

I can't even remember the last time I made paneer parathas. It certainly has been a while. I didn't even recall which recipe I had consulted previously. The only thing I recall was that ajwain and paneer go well together in parathas (my mum uses this combo). I didn't follow any particular recipe and just improvised as I went and ended up with this version. It turned out good enough to merit a feature on the blog and so without further ado, here it is 

Paneer Paratha (Cottage Cheese Stuffed Flatbreads)

Preparation time: 30-40 min
Cook time: 2-4 min per paratha
Makes: 8 parathas
Serves: 2-3
Recipe Category: Main Course/ North Indian
Recipe Level: Easy

Ingredients:

For the whole wheat dough:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used Pillsbury Chakki Atta)
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ghee/vegetable oil
1 cup warm water (approximate) for kneading the dough

For the paneer stuffing:
250gm paneer/cottage cheese
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 green chilies, finely chopped (or adjust according to taste)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder/dry mango powder
1/2 tsp ajwain/carom seeds, Optional
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped 
1/2 tsp salt or add as required

Ghee or butter as required for roasting parathas

Method:

1. Add all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl (except the water) and give it a mix. Now add the warm water little by little until the mixture comes together to form an elastic dough. You can use our hands or a kneading mixer for this purpose. Knead well for a few minutes. Make sure the dough does not end up sticky (if it does, add a little more flour and knead). Cover the dough using clingfilm or a moist kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 20 min.


2. While the dough is resting, prepare the stuffing. Grate or finely crumble the paneer (I used a chopper) and place in a large bowl. To this, add the finely chopped onions and green chilies, red chili powder, garam masala powder, amchur powder, chaat masala, ajwain and finely chopped fresh coriander leaves. Mix everything well so that all the ingredients are integrated with the paneer. Just before preparing the parathas, add the salt to the stuffing and give it a good mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if required.


3. Make 8 uniform balls out of the dough as well as the paneer stuffing. Preferably the dough balls and the paneer stuffing balls should be of the same size (or the dough balls only very slightly larger).

4. For rolling out the parathas, dust a wooden rolling board with some flour. Take one dough ball, flatten it a bit, dab it in some flour and roll it out into a 5-inch circle. Place a paneer ball in the centre. Now fold the paneer ball with the dough from all sides, gathering together and pinch the top. Remove any excess dough if present. Flatten this ball slightly, sprinkle some more flour on top and roll it out with gentle pressure into a 7-inch circle. Take care to maintain a uniform thickness throughout the paratha. If the stuffing is exposed on the undersurface as you are rolling, don't worry. Gently pry the paratha from the board, dust the board with a little more flour and continue. Do not thin out the centre portion of the paratha too much while rolling.




5. Continue similarly with the rest of the dough and paneer balls. You can either roll the paratha and fry them on a tawa one by one or roll all of them together and then subsequently fry them. If you decide to roll them all together, I would advise you not to stack the rolled out parathas on top of each other as they might stick to each other.

6. Place a tawa on medium heat and once hot, place one rolled out paratha on it.

7. Fry the paratha until you see brown spots on the surface after which flip the paratha over and grease the other surface. Continue this process till the paratha is cooked through. It should take about 2 to 4 minutes per paratha. Brush both sides with some ghee or butter.


8. Place in a hot box or a pre heated oven on low till you finish cooking the remaining parathas.

9. Serve hot alongside plain yoghurt and pickle of your choice.


Notes:

  • You can use fresh or frozen paneer to make these parathas. If using frozen, first thaw the paneer cubes in warm water, drain thoroughly and then proceed
  • If you don't have dry mango/amchur powder, you can use the juice from half a lime in the stuffing
  • If you don't like the taste of ajwain then just omit it
  • You can freeze these parathas. Partially cook the parathas on either side, cool them and then pack them between some aluminium foil or parchment paper, put them in a ziplock bag and pop them in the freezer. When you are ready to cook them, heat the tawa, grease with a little oil and cook the parathas till you see uniform brown spots on either surface.



Cheers,

1 comment:

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