Dhal ‘Stuffed’ Parathas


Dhal Stuffed Parathas

I finally got around to making Gastrogeek’s aubergine dhal after months of bleating on about it. The addition of smoky burnt aubergine flesh is simply inspired and the dish lived up to expectations even after the long build up. With a lot left over though, I wanted to try experimenting with stuffed parathas, which would also solve the problem of not having any bread left to scoop everything up with.

Most recipes instructed to make a dough first, then roll each piece out, spoon a blob of cold dhal in the centre and then pinch it around and seal as if making a dumpling. The ball is then pressed down and rolled out, thus incorporating the lentils. I suppose you could call that ‘stuffed’ – the dhal was certainly stuffed inside the dough at one point, but the rolling basically just mushed the whole lot together.

This method does not make things easy when it comes to rolling. Despite liberal flouring, it was hard not to end up in a big, sticky mess as the lentils burst forth from the dough with alarming force, taking no taming whatsoever no matter how gently I rolled and flipped and turned. There had to be an easier way.

It made sense to me to try mixing equal amounts of flour and dhal at the very beginning, so the curry becomes the water that holds the dough together. Since they are not really ‘stuffed’ anyway then what would it matter? I made another batch and it worked well; I added just a drop of water to bring it together completely and the result was a much more workable dough that rolled out to a neater, thinner paratha. I didn’t fold the dough over though, so they weren’t as flaky as a regular paratha. Next time, next time.

I cooked them in a cast iron skillet in a little oil, brushing each with an indecent amount of ghee. We scooped up mouthfuls of leftover rogan josh, pumpkin and coconut curry and one of my favourite chutneys: walnut and mint. The recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Curry Bible’ and is well worth a try. You just stick walnuts, mint, garlic, chillies and lemon juice in the blender, then mix with seasoned plain yoghurt. The result is rather hot with a tangy kick from the yoghurt and it has that immensely satisfying texture of blended walnuts, just like that of muhammara.

I’m not exactly the world’s most skilful paratha maker, but I did manage to produce some buttery, toasty, curry scooper-uppers, which had a pleasing sour and smoky kick and a bit of texture variation from the lentils. A welcome addition to the leftovers repertoire and one well worth the extra couple of pounds in weight gained due to my inability to control myself around clarified butter.

Dhal ‘Stuffed’ Parathas

This isn’t the most authentic recipe you’re going to come across but it is easy, so do what you will.

Equal amounts of dhal (cold) and chapatti flour. If you can’t find chapatti flour then use a 50/50 mix of wholemeal and white flour.
A pinch of salt
Ghee, for brushing
Oil, for frying (I used groundnut)

Mix the dahl and flour together with your hands and then add a drop of water if needed to bring it together. Knead it on a lightly floured surface until the dough becomes smooth (apart from the lentils, obviously). Then cover and leave to rest for about 10 minutes.

Divide into balls roughly the size of a small lemon and roll out to 10-15cm wide circles. You basically want to get them nice and thin. You can then try folding the parathas like I forgot to do, in half and half again before re-rolling. This should give you some nice flaky layers. I imagine this might be harder with the stuffed ones however, as the lentils make the dough a bit lumpier.

Heat a heavy pan until very hot (I used a cast iron skillet), then fry each in a little oil (about 1tsp) on both sides until brown blistered patches appear. Brush liberally with ghee once cooked and set aside on a warm plate while you finish the batch.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Walnut and Mint Chutney (from The Curry Bible)

60g walnuts
30g mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
4 birds eye chillies (I used 2 larger green ones)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whizz the walnuts, garlic, mint, chillies, lemon juice, salt and 5 tablespoons water in a blender until you have a smooth paste. Using a fork, whip the yoghurt in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Mix the paste from the blender into this. Taste and adjust the balance of seasonings as necessary.

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    Reply Paul January 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I’ll definitely be trying this out, they look great!

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    Reply Lizzie January 10, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Oooh these look so delicious. Parathas need that indecent amount of ghee really. I wonder if you could then add a layer of smoked aubergine flesh and fold it over as an extra layer?

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    Reply Helen T January 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    These look wonderful, and I’m keeping this for when aubergine crops up in the veg box. Although Dr T says if we are snowed in we may be on paratha instead of bread by the end of the week. Somehow, I think being snowed in unlikely, paratha making quite likely!

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    Reply gastrogeek January 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    wow Helen am so flattered that you made my dahl and used it in such an ingenious way! Your paratha making skills look pretty damned tasty too. Love it!

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    Reply Kavey January 11, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Yep you can’t stint on ghee with parathas or they aren’t parathas, in my book! 😉

    I can’t even make rotis (chapatis) let alone parathas so you’re ahead of me. And I should have learned them growing up, really.

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    Reply Sharmila January 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

    These look lovely! My mum makes a lot of aloo paratha (mmm, potato in bread) and she manages to encase the layer of almost mashed potato within the two layers of paratha. I’m not sure how she does it, but I shall definitely ask her.

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    Reply LexEat January 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Is it wrong to lick the screen of my lap top? Looks delicious!

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    Reply Johanna January 12, 2010 at 12:00 am

    great problem solving and what a delicious sounding chutney – must try – and always want to try stuffed indian breads so maybe this is a good way to start

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen January 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    This sounds so good! I wonder if I could use chickpea flour and rice flour in place of the chapatti flour. I am looking for yummy grain free breads – and this could hit the spot!

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    Reply shayma January 12, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    helen these are BEAUTIFUL. very difficult to make and you nailed them. they look like they are perfectly crisp. you are so right about ghee. and madhur’s twist on a paudinay ki chutney with walnuts is decadent and delicious, too. they’d be lovely with a dhania ki chutney (coriander chutney). my mum whizzes one tomato, one small onion, salt, green chilies, one garlic clove, a tomato and a bunch of coriander in a blender. done. best wishes, shayma

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    Reply Helen January 13, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Paul – If you do then please let me know how they go.

    Lizzie – well yes that did occur to me but with the current problems described then I’ve got no chance. The layer would just squirt out the sides I reckon. Could just use that as the water instead though, to get a more smoky flavour. Yum!

    Helen T – Go forth and make parathas! It needs to happen!

    Gastrogeek – it was my pleasure, trust me! I think I have a way to go with the parathas but I can only get better put it that way…

    Kavey – It’s all about the fat isn’t it? As always!

    Sharmila – Please, please do. I would really welcome the advice.

    LexEat – Whatever floats your boat dude, whatever floats your boat…

    Johanna – Yeah the chutney really is worth a go – so easy too as you just whack it all in the blender.

    Jenn – Only one way to find out…

    Shayma – Thank you! Thanks also for the coriander chutney recipe, I will give your mum’s recipe a go!

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    Reply Dan (Essex Eating) January 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Lovely photographs Helen, and the food – well…. its making me feel starving hungry. I might have a go at making these soon.

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    Reply Jeanne @ Cooksister! January 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Oooh, bread & lentils in one happy marriage! I quite like the effect of the lentils randomly distributed through the bread – purists be damned (or get stuffed, more appropriately!)

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    Reply Helen January 20, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Dan – Thanks! Give em a a go. Tricksy little suckers, but well worth a bit of a mess in the kitchen.

    Jeanne – A happy marriage indeed. Yeah they turned out ok despite not being right and proper. You’ve just reminded me to chase someone up about a tip actually. Thanks!

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    Reply mangocheeks January 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Ooh that looks so scrummy. It reminds me its about time I visited my mother, she makes the best paratha with stuffed vegetables, including cauliflower. Or maybe I should try and make some of my own. Nah, made by my mother will just taste much better.

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