Friday, November 19, 2010
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While we were in India, Bob and I were entertained by three young families who opened their homes and kitchens to us. These were atypical families and the meals we shared with them were those that would be found on the tables of the upper middle class. They were all marvelous hosts and I learned a great deal about the Indian kitchen during visits in their homes. One of our hostesses was a cooking instructor who loved to share her knowledge with other people. She was a woman with a mission. Most visitors to India don't realize that an average Indian homemaker spends at least a third of her day preparing meals for her family. She wanted to help reduce that time by simplifying classic recipes and techniques. The Indian kitchen bears no resemblance to yours or mine. Freshness is of paramount importance, so refrigerators are quite small. Fruits and vegetables are purchased daily from vendors who bring produce to the homes for selection. Meats and dairy products are purchased in the same fashion. That means that the Indian kitchen is also very seasonal. There are no peas if peas are not in season. The kitchens in which the cooking is done are Spartan. The ones I saw did not have built-in ovens or cooktops. Meals were cooked on portable gas burners or in small ovens that were set on countertops. Each of the kitchens had an auxillary table, a running bank of lower cabinets and a large sink. Family meals were always served in the dining room. Our hostesses all had help to assist with cooking and serving when they had guests. The help was generally male, though the children's nannies might be called on to cook treasured family recipes. While members of the family wore shoes, the kitchen help and servers did not. It was an interesting distinction. We quickly learned that curry is a sauce, not a powder and that masala is a combination of spices that can very from one region to another. I personally learned that the breads of India are the glory of its tables. Served hot from the grill, these breads can make grown men weep and put women on perpetual diets. They are really lovely. Today's recipe is for an Indian flatbread called paratha. You may have seen it stuffed. This is a much simpler version of that bread. I hope you'll give it a try.
Paratha...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/2 cup for dusting
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup scallion, cut up into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons ghee for brushing parathas
1) Place both flours, scallions, mint leaves red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is thoroughly mixed and onions and mint are finely chopped. Add warm water through feed tube and pulse until dough gathers into a ball. Remove, knead and rub with oil. Cover and let rest at room temperature several hours before proceeding.
2) Form dough into 12 equal size balls. On a well floured surface, roll dough into a very thin disc. Heat a cast iron griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat and cook paratha until brown spots appear on both sides. Brush with ghee and stack. Serve hot. Yield: 12 pieces.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Puffy, Fluffy Spinach and Green Chili Puris - KO Rasoi
Tandoori Rotis - Healthy and Delicious
Whole Wheat Chapati - Anja's Food 4 Thought
Naan - Closet Cooking
Multi-Grain Roti/Chipati - A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine
Chapatis and Pooris - One Perfect Bite