Flatbread on a baking sheet.
Recipes,  Side Dishes,  Vegetarian

Flaky Griddle-Cooked Breads (Malabar Parantha)

This is the most intricate bread recipe I’ve ever made. It wasn’t too tricky, but I had to read through the directions a few times to make sure I understood how to form the dough properly. I had no idea when I was making it, but the breads come out with a pocket inside – kind of like pita bread. It was really different and went with the meal very well. I put a few in the freezer for use another time since there are no preservatives in them. These breads definitely impressed Dino – they were well worth the effort!

Flatbread on a baking sheet.

Flaky Griddle-Cooked Breads (Malabar Parantha)

Flaky Griddle-Cooked Breads (Malabar Parantha)
660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking – Raghaven Iyer

Makes 6 Breads

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons Ghee or vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
About 1 cup warm water
Ghee or melted butter for brushing

1. Thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle the ghee over the four mixture, rubbing the flour through your hands to evenly distribute the ghee.

2. Pour the buttermilk over the flour mixture and quickly stir it in. The flour will still be very dry, with a few wet spots.

3. Pour a few tablespoons of the warm water over the flour, stirring it in as you do so. Repeat until the flour comes together to form a soft ball; you will use about 1 cup warm water altogether. Using your hand (as long as it’s clean, I think it’s the best tool), gather the ball, picking up any dry flour in the bottom of the bowl, and knead it to form a smooth, soft ball of dough (do this in the bowl or on a little floured surface). If it’s a little too wet, dust it with a little flour, kneading it in after every dusting until you get the right soft, dry consistency. (If you used your hand to make the dough from the start, it will be caked with clumps of dough. Scrape them back into the bowl. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly, and return to the dough to knead it. You will get a much better feel for the dough’s consistency with a dry hand.)

4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a slightly dampened cloth, and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

5. Using your hands, roll the dough into an 18-inch-long log (lightly flour the work surface if necessary). Cut it crosswise into 6 pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Press each ball flat to form a patty. Cover the patties with plastic wrap.

6. Tear off a large sheet of aluminum foil, fold it in half lengthwise, and set it aside. Tear off 7 sheets of wax paper, each about 8 inches wide. Place the ghee near the stove, with a pastry brush handy.

7. While the skillet is heating, lightly flour a small work area near the stove, and place a dough patty on it (leave the others under cover). Roll it out to form a round roughly 5 to 6 inches in diameter, dusting it with flour as needed. Make sure the round is evenly thin, with no tears on the surface. Brush the top liberally with ghee. Lift the edge closest to you and roll the dough into a tight cigar-shaped log. Form the log into a tight coil. Then flatten the log to form a patty, and reroll it to form a round roughly 5 to 6 inches in diameter, dusting it with flour as needed. Lift the round, plop it onto a sheet of wax paper and cover it with a second sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking the rounds between sheets of wax paper as they are rolled.

8. Heat a medium-size skillet (preferably nonstick or cast iron) over medium heat.

9. Transfer a round to the hot skillet. Cook until the surface has some bumps and bubbles, and the underside has some brown spots and looks cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately flip it over and cook until the other side has brown spots, 2 to 3 minutes.

10. Brush the round with ghee and flip it over to sear it, about 30 seconds. Brush the top with ghee and flip it over to sear it, about 30 seconds. Slip the parantha between the layers of foil and keep it warm.

11. Continue cooking the remaining rounds, stacking the finished paranthas under the foil. Then serve.

MacGourmet Rating: 4 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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