Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Carom and Spinach Parathas

If you like curries and are looking for a new accompaniment, try these parathas instead of rice. They're buttery, iron-rich and delicious toasted the next morning for breakfast.

We've tagged this post "projects" because it takes a while, but (1) it's still less time-consuming than most bread recipes and (2) you can multi-task here--if you're making these to go with curry, you can start the dough, let it rise while you prep the curry ingredients, and then roll out & fry the parathas while the curry is simmering.

Carom seeds are also called ajwan or ajwain, and you can find them in Indian groceries. They're supposed to be good for your digestion and have a very similar flavor to thyme, which would be a good substitute if you can't get your hands on some carom seeds. You can find semolina in the bulk section, or buy it packaged in the "baking needs" aisle.

We modified this recipe from The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide.

2 cups finely chopped fresh spinach
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons semolina
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon carom seeds
Water, as needed
6 tablespoons melted butter

Boil spinach until wilted (i.e., put it in the microwave with water to cover and nuke for about a minute) and drain off the water. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, flour, semolina, salt and carom seeds and mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and then slowly add small amounts of water as needed to achieve a doughy consistency. Knead for 10 minutes--the dough should be pliable and not sticky, since you'll need to roll it out later. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

Lightly dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour, and grease your hands with a little oil. Divide the dough into 10 pieces. Roll one of them into a ball with your hands, then flatten and roll out with a rolling pin into a 5-6 inch circle. Brush with melted butter, fold in half, brush with butter again, and fold in half once more to form a triangle. Roll the triangle out until the base is 5-6 inches.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle on medium and brush with butter, then add the paratha. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook 2 more minutes. (Some parathas will puff up, which looks really cool. But don't cry if yours don't--they'll still taste good, because they have 6 tablespoons of butter in them). Remove paratha and cover with a clean towel. Repeat the rolling and frying until all the dough is used up.

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