Paratha (Indian Flatbread)

June 26, 2014

TAKE SOME WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, form it into a yeast-less dough, bake it on a dry skillet until spotty-brown, and what do you get? Paratha — a simple but delicious Indian flatbread.

I honestly love paratha. I love to top it with pesto or hummus, or roll it up, burrito-like, around grilled veggies or meats. It’s a cinch to make, and the only equipment you need is a bowl, a pastry brush, and a cast-iron skillet.

First, pour 2 cups whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl.

Can’t bear the taste of all-whole wheat bread? Use a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.

Then add 1/2 teaspoon (or more, to taste) kosher salt…

And 4 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Use your impeccably clean fingers to blend the flour and oil together until  the mixture resembles the coarse crumbs, as above. This will take all of 30 seconds.

Then add just enough water to make a firm dough. In summer, when the humidity is high, my paratha dough requires about 2/3 cup of water.  In winter, when my haunted, 188-year-old house is bone-dry,  the dough begs for 3/4 cup of water.

Mix the squishy dough with your hands, just until it comes together.

And then roll up your sleeves, turn the dough onto your work surface, and knead it for 3 minutes.

Yes, I know I didn’t roll up my sleeves. But you should.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, and coat it with a little vegetable oil.

Then cover the bowl with a blue and white kitchen towel, and it rest for at least 15  minutes (or up to 30 minutes).

After the dough has finished its nap, knead it for 30 seconds.

Tear off an egg-size clump of dough, and then roll it, between your palms, into a ball.

Flatten the ball to make a disk…

And lightly coat both sides of the disk in whole wheat flour.

Roll the disk into a 6-inch diameter circle.

Repeat the previous 4 steps for the remaining segments of dough.

Brush the circle with a little oil…

And top it with the seasonings of your choice. I seasoned mine with black pepper and ground cumin — one small pinch of each.

Drop the disk, oiled-side-down, onto a hot (not greased!) cast-iron skillet.

Within seconds, the bread will bubble and puff like nobody’s business. Brush the top with a little oil…

And then flip the bread over. Cook this side until spotty brown — 30 seconds or less.

Keep the breads warm in a kitchen towel.

Paratha is delicious with Garlic Scape Pesto

Or with homemade Greek yogurt and freshly snipped chives.

In India (and in Indian restaurants) it is commonly topped with chutney.

And are you thinking what I’m thinking? Paratha would make a mighty fine pizza dough.
Need a copy-and-paste version of the above? Here goes:

Whole Wheat Paratha (Indian Flatbread)
Adapted from various sources
Ingredients for 8 6-inch diameter breads
2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon (or more, to taste) kosher salt
4 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for coating and brushing the dough
2/3 cup (or slightly more) water
Seasonings — freshly ground black pepper, ground cumin, etc., a small pinch for each “loaf”

The dough — Put the flour, salt, and oil in a mixing bowl. Use your fingers to blend the oil into the flour — it should resemble coarse crumbs.
Then add just enough water to produce a firm but workable dough. You will probably need 2/3 cup of water on a hot, humid day, and 3/4 cup during the dry days of winter. Roughly mix the dough with your hands, and then pour it onto your work surface. Knead for 3 minutes. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, coat it with a little vegetable oil, and then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, or for up to 30 minutes.

Forming the bread — After the dough has rested, knead it for 30 seconds. Then tear off an egg-size piece of dough, and roll it between your palms to form a ball. Then flatten the ball into a disk. Gently press the disk into a plate of whole wheat flour, and then flip it over to coat the other side.  Roll it, with your rolling pin, into a 6-inch-diameter circle.

Seasoning the bread — Brush one side of a disk with a little oil. Then sprinkle it with the herbs or seasonings of your choice.

Baking the bread — Heat a cast-iron skillet over a medium flame until hot. Then place one disk, oiled-side-down, in the skillet. When the breads starts to puff here and there — after about 5 seconds — brush the top with a little oil, and then flip the bread over. Let cook for about 30 seconds, or until spotty-brown.

Form, season, and bake the remaining disks.

Think you’ll give this easy Paratha a try? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love to hear from you.

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More fun:
Flower Arranging: Victorian Beauty from Common Flowers
Fougasse aux Herbes de Provence
Easy Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Comments

  1. Kate Wilson says:

    This sounds lovely and easy! Thank you!

  2. badger gardener says:

    I love Indian cooking and this will be a wonderful accompaniment. I’m watching for those garlic scrapes. I can’t remember exactly when they popped out last year but I’m guessing it will be a little later this season.

  3. LeRoy says:

    I live in Northern Michigan and have been cutting garlic scraps for over a week

  4. Joy says:

    Looks delicious and exactly like what my husband and I like to use for personal pizzas … or with grilled veggies and light cheese. Any idea how many calories per flatbread?

  5. Georgeann Brown says:

    In Middle TN garlic scapes already harvested as well as my garlic. Garlic hanging in garage to dry. Flat bread looks great and will make soon.

  6. Amie Poole says:

    Kevin, these flatbreads were delicious. I did half wheat, half unbleached white flour. Chewy with just enough crunch. Cumin is key. Thank you so much!

  7. Sara says:

    This is a lithe weak on details: I went to a picnic where a nice middle eastern man had made flatbread ( baked a few minutes), caramelized red onion and added dried sweet cherries to the onion to soften. Spread this on the flat bread and bake for a few more minutes, added arugula and goat cheese when it came out of the oven. OOOOLALA it was good! Your post really got me thinking …I have to try this.

  8. Bryonna says:

    Mmmmm, sounds yummy. On my To Make list for this week. Thanks, Kevin!

  9. Charlotte Matthews says:

    Thank you, I don’t like to throw bread away and this is perfect for me ~ and tasty

  10. Gretchen says:

    Um, Kevin, you did say “haunted house”???? Is there a story there that you’re willing to sahe with your devoted fans? Oh, and the bread is fabulous! I used slightly carmelized Vidalia onion and a sprinkle of chopped toasted pecans. yum

  11. Pam says:

    This looks good, and I will try it. All your recipes turn out great, Kevin!!

  12. Mary Ann Z. says:

    Please pardon my ignorance but what is garlic scape? I planted garlic for the very first time last fall and I am waiting for it to be ready for harvesting. I have never heard the term “garlic scape”.

  13. Hi Mary Ann Z. – To learn about garlic scapes, and to see my recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto, visit (i.e., click) this post.

  14. Maricela Infante says:

    they remind me of tortillas from mexico!

  15. Cathy says:

    Kevin, I am truly not a picky person, nor am I perfect by a long shot but is this
    Paratha Bread or Parantha Bread (it is spelled both ways in your recipe)? I am
    anxious to try this – anything good and easy.

  16. Maricela Infante – Yes, similar to a tortilla.

    Cathy – Typo is fixed. Thanks!

  17. Lee says:

    Hi Kevin .i make roti or parathas everyday in my Indian household . But I take a shortcut by making the dough in a food processor , I’m sure a kitchenaidstand mixer would also do the job . It s a real timesaver . Love ur blog

  18. Jan says:

    Hi Kevin
    I was wondering could i use all white flour to make the flat bread…????

  19. Margi says:

    My husband made this today and it is fantastic. We ate it without anything on it. Is it good served after it cools? We’re wondering if it would work to sell it at our farmer’s market.

  20. Kamaljit says:

    Kevin you can also make different kinds, I like making the with potatoes. You boil the potatoes., mash then, then add Indian spices a according to tastes. Fill the rolled out flat bread with potates and the wrap it back into a ball and once again roll it out, very softly and cook like you did this flat prantha, you’ll have potato prantha or we call it Aloo prantha.

  21. Denise T. says:

    Your garlic scape pesto is fabulous. Hubby and I couldn’t stop eating it.

  22. Karin G says:

    tried this tonight, mine didn’t puff too much, but was tasty with a mix of leftovers and rice

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