My grandma used to make fresh, homemade onion paratha that were buttery and flaky, with sensitive inner layers and crisp outside layers that would break when torn. It has a distinctive flavour and texture when made by hand, as opposed to when it is purchased from a store, thanks to the ghee, butter, or, in my grandmother’s case, Crisco! that is spread on top, layered, and rolled. Her paratha were always square, unlike the circular ones from the grocery store. We knew we were going to have a good meal when we saw that platter of square paratha.
Since I can remember, paratha has been a mainstay in my family’s diet. You could always find a large pack of them in the freezer; they are the round variety in the green retail package. We grew up adoring and savouring each and every one of those flaky layers, making sure to eat them whenever possible.
At least in my mind, the paratha has always been a crucial component of the Bangladeshi cuisine I grew up eating. It frequently appeared, such as at breakfast or dinner with beef curry. While we frequently opted for the pre-made version out of convenience, my grandmother’s homemade paratha was always the biggest delight.
Each country and person has their own way of making paratha, which can be created in a variety of shapes and sizes, including square, round, triangular, filled, and made with various types of flour. I was inspired to create this dish by the paratha my grandma prepared and used some of her tips for preparing them at home.
Paratha: What Is It?
A form of flaky, layered flatbread called a paratha is popular throughout South Asia. They can be straightforward—layered with your preferred fat (like ghee, butter, or shortening) and rolled into a variety of forms (like square, circular, or triangular)—or even stuffed or filled, as in aloo paratha or Mughlai paratha.
In contrast to the maida (a sort of all-purpose flour frequently used in South Asian cuisines) and atta (a whole-wheat flour) that my grandmother and many experienced paratha-makers use, this recipe calls for all-purpose flour, which is my go-to flour. Similar to maida, the all-purpose flour has a more neutral flavour that really lets the ghee or butter flavour come through. The method for making round paratha, which is similar to the method frequently used for scallion pancakes, creates even more layers and a greater contrast in texture between the tender inner layers and crisp, golden-brown outer layers. I sometimes use the quicker method of folding and rolling them into squares (alternate directions for that are provided below).
Indian flatbread, or paratha, washed up on a white plate and torn in two.
Kayla Hoang is to blame.
How Are Parathas Made?
A basic dough consisting of wheat, salt, oil, and water is used to make paratha. Each portion of the dough is divided and rolled out before being generously spread with ghee, butter, or shortening and dusted with flour to help define the layers. Depending on the final shape you want, it is then carefully rolled or folded before receiving a final roll. Next, the paratha is prepared. To make sure the interior layers are thoroughly cooked, the paratha is first partially fried in a dry pan. The paratha is then fried in the ghee until golden brown after ghee has been put to the pan.
Tips for Serving Paratha
While it’s still really hot, eat it straight from the pan.
Put it in a coffee or chai mug.
For a delicious, buttery treat, my grandfather likes to use sooji (also written suji).
Serve it along with a fiery beef curry from Bangladesh (my mom’s favourite!).
Alternately, put it next to the vegetable bhaji.