HOW TO MAKE PLAIN PARATHAS
This post is a great beginners guide to making soft and flaky plain homemade parathas. Parathas are the perfect unleavened flatbreads that are delicious with many Pakistani and Indian dishes. They are enjoyed as breakfast and brunch and served with jams or chutneys. The choices are endless when it comes to enjoying this homemade flatbread.
WHAT ARE PARATHAS
Parathas are simple South Asian flatbreads that are prepared in a variety of ways. They are unleavened and made with flour called Atta which is a specific type of hard whole wheat. Parathas are thick, layered, flakey and crispy, cooked on a griddle with little oil, butter or ghee. The plain Parathas are made with a simple dough prepared with water and flour and sometimes some oil or salt. Parathas can also be stuffed with meats, lentils or vegetable fillings. The dough for Parathas and Rotis is prepared similarly. Once you learn how to make plain Paratha dough you can use different ratios of atta flour or all-purpose flour. All across the South Asian regions Parathas can be prepared little differently from the filling combinations to the shapes. I am going to show you how to make square Parathas.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARATHAS, ROTI & NAAN?
Parathas are definitely a labor of love and require more steps than making a roti. Parathas are usually made thicker than Rotis and have a flakey layer from fat like oil, butter or ghee. Then additional fat is needed to shallow fry on the griddle. Roti is usually plain, thinner and no fat is needed to cook them.
Naan is a soft leavened bread made from atta flour, all purpose or a combination, traditionally cooked in a clay oven called a Tandoor. Naan dough can also be prepared with eggs or yogurt. There are many different varieties of naan. Naans can also be plain, buttered or stuffed.
SHOULD YOU USE OIL BUTTER OR GHEE
Layers of the parathas will be created from fat and the folding methods. Each type of fat will give you a little different flavor. In my experience the oil gives Parathas a very soft texture. Using butter adds a lot of flavor and makes the Parathas very crispy and flakey. I would recommend that you try using each type of fat and see what flavor and texture you prefer the most.
HOW TO MAKE PARATHAS
Plain Paratha dough is very simple and is prepared just like dough for Roti. You want the dough to be smooth, soft and pliable which makes it easier to roll out.
You can add a few tablespoons of oil, butter or ghee and a pinch of salt into the dry flour before adding water. Work in the fat using your hands, the texture of the flour will get grainy. Sometimes I add oil and other times I skip since I will be using the oil as the spread for the layers. I also sprinkle salt on each individual paratha when rolling. These are all variations you can try.
You will start by slowly adding lukewarm water to the flour. Using your fingertips in a circular motion bring the dough together. Initially the dough will look dry and coarse. You want to keep kneading using knuckles and folding the dough. You can continue to add the water, a tablespoon at a time. If the dough becomes too wet add little flour and keep kneading. If the dough is very stiff, continue adding water.
Continue kneading for about 5-7 minutes. Then you want to rest the dough. Wet your hand and moisten the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest on the countertop. This will continue to form the gluten. When I am in a hurry, I rest the dough for 15-20 minutes. When I have more time, I allow it to rest for 30-45 minutes. Once it’s done resting knead again for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth, soft and pliable.
If you realize the dough has become very soft, then you can refrigerate for a few hours or overnight and it will be easy to work with.
If you are not using the dough right away. Keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and use it within 3-4 days.
USING STAND MIXER TO KNEAD DOUGH
Keep in mind a stand mixer will mix with more power than your hands. You want to keep the speed very low when using a mixer. Kneading the dough at a high speed will form the gluten too fast that will make the dough very tight and tough. I recommend you start off learning to knead the dough using your hands. Once you really get to know what the dough should feel like then you can use the stand mixer.
SHAPING THE PARATHAS
Parathas can be made square, round and triangle, and this can be done using many different techniques. In this post I am sharing how to make square Parathas. If you are a beginner, I would recommend that you make smaller Parathas. Working with a smaller piece of dough will really give you practice, and it will just be a lot easier to handle.
Don’t worry so much about getting the shape just right but trying to roll out the dough evenly.
HOW TO FREEZE/REFRIGERATE PARTIALLY COOKED PARATHAS
Parathas are something my family enjoys routinely but can take a little longer to cook daily. Partially cooking the Parathas and placing them in the fridge or freezer is such a time saver. You can fully cook the Parathas and store them, but I don’t like the texture and just feel like they don’t taste that good. When you partially cook Parathas and store them, they still need to be fully cooked, so they have that fresh taste and aroma.
Sometimes I do this weekly where I make a batch of Parathas, store them in the fridge if we will go through them soon. If I make a big batch then I store them in the freezer. You get fresh Parathas in no time without the mess.
- To make the process go faster. I roll and layer and shape all the Parathas and keep them covered so they don’t dry out. Then I will have 2 rolled out at a time.
- Heat the griddle and have your oil, butter or ghee ready.
- Place Paratha on the hot griddle. Within 15-20 seconds you will start to see it get cooked, don’t oil. Then flip it over, give it another 5 seconds and take off the griddle & place on a clean kitchen towel to cool. They will look raw, but the dough shouldn’t be wet or sticky. Don’t allow Parathas to cool without being covered, they will dry out and that will make them tough.
- Prepare all Parathas in the same manner.
- Stack & place parchment paper top & bottom of the stack so they don’t get soggy. Place it in a Ziploc bag with dates. Place the bag in the refrigerator & keep for up to a week.
- You can also place the bag in the freezer. Make sure to squeeze out extra air from the bag to prevent freezer burn. You can also place parchment paper between each paratha as well. You can place it in the freezer for a few months, but I don’t freeze for that long.
- When you are ready to cook these Parathas don’t defrost all the Parathas, only take out however many you will be cooking. Take them out of the bag from the fridge or freezer, place on a paper towel, let them come to room temperature or thaw. This does not take long. Have the griddle ready, spread some oil on the griddle and continue cooking them just like you would when you are making them fresh.
Please watch the full detailed video on youtube.
HOW TO MAKE PLAIN PARATHA
- Large bowl to knead the dough
- Rolling Pin
- Flat griddle. Traditional tawa or nonstick griddle
- 2 cups atta (whole wheat roti flour)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (extra water for kneading)
- Oil (butter or clarified butter)
- 1/2 cup extra dry flour
- salt in saltshaker
- may need extra water in separate bowl for kneading
- Add flour to a large bowl. Make sure bowl is wide enough to be able to knead the dough in.
- Start adding water. Add 1 cup slowly, using fingertips in circular motion to bring dough together. If dough is not coming together keep adding little water. Dough will look dry and coarse at this point. If the dough is very sticky you can add few more tablespoons of dry flour. If dough is very tough keep adding little warm water. Knead with your knuckles, stretch and fold. Keep repeating wetting your hands in warm water each time as you knead. You want to knead for about 5-7 minutes.
- At this point dough will be soft but texture may still be lumpy. That should be fine. Moisten the dough and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for about 15-20 minutes on the counter.
- Once the dough has rested, knead again for few more minutes. Form it into a smooth round ball. Dough should be soft, smooth, crack free and pliable.
- If you are not using the dough right away. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.
SHAPING THE PARATHAS
- Make sure you have everything you need. The griddle, rolling pin, spatula, keep extra flour in a bowl wide enough to dust the rolled paratha. Also have your oil butter or ghee out. If you are using all the dough, you can equally divide the dough. Quantity will depend on how thick or thin your parathas are. Make sure to keep the dough covered to keep from drying out.
- Lightly dust fingers in dry flour, take a piece of dough little larger than an egg. Bring sides together to make a circular shape and create seam.
- Turn seam side down on palm of nondominant hand apply pressure and roll in circular motion keeping the seam against the palm to create a round shape.
- Dust in flour and flatten into a disc. This will help to roll evenly. Start rolling out the dough to a 5-to-6-inch circle. May not be a perfect circle but make sure to roll evenly as possible.
- Spread 1-2 teaspoons oil, butter or clarified butter all over, sprinkle with little salt.
- From the top end fold the circle towards the center, repeat from the bottom end and overlap. Fold right side halfway to center than left side overlapping completely. You should have a square shape; this is creating the layers.
- Dust in flour and roll out evenly to around 7x7 square. Roll equally on all sides to get the square shape. Keeping rotating so it doesn't stick and use little dry flour to help roll evenly.
- Lightly grease the preheated griddle. Griddle should be on medium-to-medium high heat. Place the rolled paratha on the hot griddle. Spread few teaspoons of oil on top. You will start to see bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and drizzle oil again. Now with a spatula gently press and rotate the paratha. Flip again and continuing cooking any raw spots. You should have some nice brown spots all over the paratha. Keep in mind Parathas cook quickly. The longer they stay on the heat that can make them tough.
- Take off heat. Keep the Parathas covered in a kitchen towel. Serve warm.