I learned how to Make a Parantha when I was around ten years old but I started playing with wheat dough as a toddler. We didn’t have clay to play with back then and I would make all sorts of shapes with dough. Paranthas are unanimous with Punjabi Indians and the whole of North India. The origin of Parantha is debatable with varied versions claiming to have originated in Punjab, while others claim it originated in Kashmir. Do we really care now? Food has become global and we are trying out and relishing cuisines from distant parts of the world.
Punjab is known as the granary of India as it produces the highest amount of wheat. A Parantha is layers of cooked dough. Rolling out a perfect circle of dough is an art and I mastered it when I was a little girl. I used to play with my dolls and my real set of Kitchen utensils which my mom would hunt for and buy for me. I had sets of kitchen items, tea cups and causers in porcelain, ceramic, steel and even plastic. I used to pester my mom for some dough and I would roll out tiny rotis with my rolling pin and board and my mom would shallow fry them on the griddle. My dad would be the guinea pig who would get to eat them and then he would praise me to the skies. Sigh!! How I miss being spoilt rotten by my dad.
The standard way of making a parantha is to take a small ball of dough and roll out a small disc. The disc is generously smeared with ghee or clarified butter then salt and lots of caraway seeds are sprinkled and they stick to the ghee. The disc is then folded into different shapes. My mom’s favorite was triangle but she also made square and round. My triangular Paranthas always remind me of the map of Peninsular India!
The parantha is a staple breakfast item in most South Asian families. Traditionally, it is made using ghee but I skip the ghee. My mom used to be very generous with the ghee while rolling it, while shallow frying it and would serve it to me with a huge dollop of fresh homemade white butter which I loved.
A ‘parantha’ is actually flat bread made with whole-wheat flour, shallow fried in ghee and often stuffed with vegetables, especially boiled potatoes, radish or cauliflower and/or Paneer (Indian cheese) or any filling of your choice. A parantha is traditionally served with a blob of butter spread on top pickle and a bowl of thick yoghurt.
Paranthas and a huge glass of Lassi (a blend of whole cream yogurt and sugar) are partners in crime and are innate to Punjabi cuisine. The best way to eat a salt and caraway parantha is to roll it and eat it with masala tea or Indian chai. It tastes divine when the parantha is dipped into the sugary tea.
I made triangle and square paranthas but the shape hardly affects the taste. Indian paranthas are very high in calories, energy as they are basically fried in ghee or butter. The ghee or butter does improve their taste but I just smear a couple of measly drops on mine.
Happy Chomping if you are going to learn How to Make a Parantha.