A few days before my husband and I got married, I stayed at my sister-in-law’s house. This was my first real introduction to Indian cooking. There were many new tastes and textures, but I was most intrigued and in awe of the bread making. In all the time my husband and I dated, I had never once seen my husband make bread or heard him talk about making bread. Yet in those days before marriage, he skillfully made all types of breads without measuring or a recipe. To say I am the least skilled bread maker on my Indian side of the family is and understatement. I am playing catch up in a game where everyone else has a lifetime head start. However, I am slowly learning different recipes and building my confidence. One day maybe my own children will be in awe of my own bread skills. That day isn’t today.
Although I am not yet an expert in breads, I have improved and gotten pretty good at some recipes. Spinach paranthas is a bread I have made over 5 times at this point and feel fairly confident that I can make a decent, passable version. I would not advise basing all of your bread-making knowledge off of me though. If you want to learn about making Indian breads, you will need to get closer to the source than me. If you would like to see a white lady’s best effort at Indian breads, keep reading.
- 2 – 2 1/4 cups atta/whole wheat flour
- 3-4 tbsp oil/ghee (I usually do a mix)
- 1 9 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
- 2 tsps ajwain/carom seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- In a large mixing bowl with a wide mouth or a parath, place 2 cups flour and 3-4 tbsp oil/ghee. Mix the flour and oil together by hand. Take the flour between the palms of both hands and rub your palms together letter the flour sift out and back into the bowl. Keep doing this with the flour in order to evenly mix the oil into the flour. Try to break up any large oil lumps.
- Once oil is incorporated into flour, add salt and ajwain. Mix into flour.
- Add spinach to the flour.
- Add spinach to the flour. Begin to knead the spinach into the flour. The spinach juices are the water for the dough, so really work the spinach initially to get all of the moisture out and into the flour. Knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough comes together into a smooth, soft ball. The dough should not be sticking to your fingers when you touch it at the end. If it is, continue to slowly add another 1/4 cup flour to the dough until it comest together without being too sticky.
- Let the dough rest for about 10-20 minutes under a tea towel/plastic wrap.
- If I am making the dough ahead of time I put the dough in a container in the fridge at this point. Otherwise, proceed to cooking it.
- To make the paranthas, take off a chunk of dough and roll into a 1 inch diameter ball between palms. Once you have formed the ball, flatten the ball into a disc by pressing palms together on either side of the ball.
- Dip the disk into some flour so that it is lightly coated on all sides. Begin rolling the disk out into a round circle. You do not want to roll too thin for this bread, but you also do not want it too thick.
- Once you have a round circle rolled, put a little bit of oil on one edge or 1/4 piece of the circle. Fold the circle over so that the oil is now covered. Now you will have a half-moon of dough. On half of the half-moon, put a little bit of oil. Then fold it so that now the circle will have been folded into fourths. Press the folds down with your palm.
- Roll the folded dough out to your desired thinness. We do ours about 1/8 an inch thick, about the thickness I would do pie dough.
- In a hot pan, add the parantha dough. Let it cook until brown on one side. Flip the parantha. Cook until brown on the other side. Add a little oil to the top of the bread and then flip once more to cook the oil side again.
- Remove from the heat. Smear with butter or ghee. Serve with chutney or pickle.