Dal paratha is nostalgia, with a bunch of happy memories attached to it – from school days’ lunchbox, from many picnics and from my Home Economics practical exam when I made this paratha for the first time all on my own and got an A. 😁
In most Pakistani, Indian and Bengali homes, paratha is synonymous with breakfast. It is a homemade, unleavened flatbread, made with a very basic dough of plain flour or whole wheat flour, combined with water, salt and at times ghee or oil. The rolled out bread is then shallow fried in ghee (clarified butter), butter or vegetable oil on a tawa/skillet.
The many variations in this simple recipe reflect the diversity in the cuisine of this region. Parathas are made in different shapes, rolled in layered and stuffed with a variety of ingredients. Potato, radish, cauliflower, lentils and minced meat are some of the most popular stuffings. A stuffed paratha is considered a complete meal, that can be eaten on it’s own or simply with a dollop of butter, some chutney, pickle or yogurt on the side.
Whatever the method and differences in ingredients, I think making this simple and delicious meal at home is one of the healthiest and most fulfilling of food experiences.
What I love about flatbreads is how doable, economical and nutritious they are, a gift that was passed on to us from our ancestors centuries ago, something we can happily teach our kids as a survival skill.
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup water
1 cup split gram lentils (channa daal)
1 teaspoon salt
a pinch baking soda
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
2 green chilli peppers, finely chopped
A small bunch coriander chopped
Oil or ghee for shallow frying
This Is What You Do:
Cook lentils with 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch baking soda till they are done. The lentils should be tender.
Take them off heat, drain the water through a colander.
Mix chopped onions, green chilli peppers, coriander, red chilli flakes and cumin with cooked dal. Roughly mash up with a fork till all ingredients are mixed. Set aside.
In a deep dish, add 2 cups whole wheat flour. Make a well in the centre.
Add water gradually in the centre and keep bringing in flour from the sides till all flour is sufficiently moist.
Knead for 4-5 minutes till the dough comes together and becomes firm but flexible. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Roll between your palms to make smooth dough balls.
Cover with a moist tea towel. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Place a skillet/tawa on medium heat.
Meanwhile flour a work surface. Roll out the dough balls into thin (not too thin) flat rounds of 6-7 inches.
Spread half of the lentils mixture on one flat bread, leaving 1/2 inch empty space around the edges.
Brush the edge all around with water. Place another flat bread over it and press the edges together to seal.
Lightly grease the skillet. Carefully place daal paratha over it. Cook one side till crispy with golden brown spots.
Flip the paratha, add a little more oil. Cook the other side.
Remove from heat and immediately cover with a cotton tea towel and keep warm.
Repeat with the remaining two flat breads and daal mix.
Makes 2 daal stuffed parathas. Serve with cumin yogurt, chutneys and pickles.