What would have our breakfasts and meals looked like if there were no parathasin the world? Imagine a nation full of exotic and wholesome curries and pickles with no worthy companion to team them with? Indians understood the value of breads since the beginning and therefore while they mastered the art of cooking lovely vegetable and meaty preparations, they paid no less attention to the breads that are popularly used as accompaniments to most of these curries, stews and pickles. A paratha is a wheat or flour-based flat bread that shares its origins in the Indian subcontinent. However, similar preparations are popular across South-east Asia too. Palata in Burma or farat in Mauritius can in a way be called foreign cousins of our humble paratha.
Renowned food author and Historian Late K.T Achaya described paratha in his book, ‘A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food’ as “Wheat dough rolled out, with frequent folding over while smearing with fat, to a square or triangular shape, and pan fried using a little fat to a layery structure. Cauliflowers, potatoes, spinach and methi leaves can be mixed into dough before frying.”
In “The Story of Our Food”, KT Achaya wrote, that recipes for various stuffed wheat parathas are mentioned in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedic record compiled by King Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka.
There are several different types of parathas that are found across the nation. Paratha is an amalgamation of the words parat and atta. This literally means layers of cooked dough. Alternative spellings of parathas such as parotta (Kerala), porotha (Bengal) and paronthey (Punjab) are also common throughout different parts of the country. In a country as diverse as India, food acts a major unifier. Paratha is one such item that is popular across the subcontinent with local variations from various different regions. Here are 5 different types of parathas hailing from different parts of the country you must try.
1. Aloo paratha
Ask a North Indian to explain the importance of aloo paratha in his/her life and you can have even the most articulate people at loss of words. Such is the place of aloo parathas in their lives. It just cannot be put in words. A popular breakfast food in Punjabi, Delhi and Haryanvi households, aloo paratha is a flat wheat-based bread stuffed with a delicious potato filling. The crunchy paratha is often topped with butter and served with either curd, pickle or any curry. Here’s a delicious recipe of the same.
2. Ulte Tawe Ka Paratha
‘Ulta tawa’ means a flipped or inverted griddle in Hindi/Urdu. Awadh’s (present day Uttar Pradesh) royal speciality, ulte tawe ka paratha is served with the melt-in mouth Lucknowi special galaouti kebabs, tunday kebab or kakori kebabs. The paratha is made on the inverted griddle. It is made with maida (all-purpose flour), milk, kewra, sugar, ghee, saffron and cardamom; it is crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. Ulte tawe ka paratha is slightly sweet, which perfectly complements the spicy and flavourful kebabs and meaty preparations of Lucknow.
3. Mughlai Paratha
The Mughlai paratha is a rectangular paratha made with white flour or maida which is folded like an envelope. The thin layered, deep-fried paratha consists of a rich filling of eggs, keema (minced meat) and lots of spices. The paratha is cut in little squares, and served with potato curry and cucumber and onion salad on the side. A replica of Mughlai Paratha can be found in Maharashtra which is known as the ‘Baida Roti’ (baidameans egg). It is a flaky wrap filled with meat, eggs and spices.
4. Lachha Paratha
The multi-layered shallow fried Punjabi flat bread is perhaps one of the best gifts to the culinary world. Made of maida, laccha paratha is pleated in various strips and layers and enjoyed with various savoury vegetable and meaty curries.
5. Malabar Paratha
Malabar parotta could be called a south Indian cousin of laccha paratha. Flaky, fluffy and crisp, this parotta goes best with chicken chettinad or lip-smacking South Indian stir-fries. Made with maida and richness of milk and egg, Malabar parotta could be enjoyed for both lunch and dinner.
From usual aloo, gobhi, methi to the outrageous and unheard of cheese and avocado, the range of paratha fillings in the country is both huge and overwhelming.
Have we missed out on your favourite kind of paratha? Do let us know in the comments section below.