A paratha is a tasty whole wheat, unleavened flatbread & a daily staple in North Indian cuisine. Parathas are usually thicker than their roti counterparts and may also be stuffed with a variety of different fillings (mainly vegetables, herbs & various spices). They are then cooked on a cast iron, flat top griddle or tawa. Parathas are traditionally eaten very simply with just a little yogurt & Indian pickles on the side.
Gobi Paratha is a delicious variety of paratha stuffed with lightly spiced cauliflower. Personally, this is my favorite variety of paratha. Home made parathas may take a bit of effort & some practice initially, but are totally worth it in the end.
Ajwain (or carom seeds) is a highly fragrant spice with a taste similar to thyme. It is thought to have originated in Egypt, but is more commonly used in Indian cooking. Ajwain is easily available in any large Indian grocery store or spice market. Ajwain also has a long history for its useful medicinal properties. It is widely in India used as a digestive aid & in the relief of many stomach issues. If ajwain is not available, feel free to use cumin seeds as a substitute instead.
I highly recommend buying your whole wheat flour (atta) from an Indian store - the type of whole wheat flour sold there is very fine thus resulting in a much softer flatbread.
GOBI PARATHA (Cauliflower Stuffed Indian Flatbread)
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
water as needed
For the cauliflower filling -
1 cup cauliflower, finely grated
½” piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
1-2 small green Thai chilies, finely minced
¼ tsp ajwain
½ tsp garam masala
salt & pepper, to taste
¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely minced
2+ tbsp oil, as needed
To make the paratha dough –
In a large mixing bowl, combine the atta with enough water to form a soft pliable dough. The easiest way to do this is on a clean countertop with a little sprinkling of flour so the dough will not stick. So now transfer the dough from the bowl to your work surface. Start kneading the dough until it becomes soft & pliable. This may take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. Next place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or towel for at least 30 minutes. Keep the bowl in a warm place, do not refrigerate.
To make the cauliflower filling –
In a medium skillet or wok on medium high heat, add just 1 tsp oil. When hot add the ginger, green chilies & ajwain. Stir fry for about a minute and then add in the cauliflower. Mix well and add the garam masala, salt, pepper & cilantro leaves. Let cook until the cauliflower has completely softened. There should also be no liquid in the pan, we want this as “dry” as possible since it will be used as a filling. When done, remove from the heat & set aside to cool until needed.
To assemble the stuffed gobi paratha –
Now out of your dough, you can easily make 6-8 smaller balls of dough (about the size of a ping pong ball). Knead the dough ball for just another minute or so before rolling it out. Make sure to keep the rest of the dough balls covered with a damp cloth or towel so they don’t dry out. Using a floured rolling pin on a well floured surface, start rolling out your dough balls into thin flat circles about 5-6” in size. Next, add about 1 tbsp or so of the cooled filling to the center of your paratha. Now carefully gather up the sides sealing them together and forming a ball. Gently pat into a flattened disc using your palms and gently roll out into a circle about 6-7” in diameter. If it tears, don’t worry - just pinch it together and patch it up.
*Alternatively, you could roll out 2 separate parathas. Then evenly spread a little of the cooled filling on top of one paratha, place the other directly on top. Now pinch the edges together to form a tight seal and roll out the edges so they are smooth & seamless.
Meanwhile, heat a tawa or flat cast iron skillet on medium high. When hot, add a little oil and then carefully place the paratha on the tawa. After a minute or so, turn the paratha. You may need to add a little oil around the edges of the paratha. Both sides should be golden brown & slightly crispy. Brush with ghee or butter and serve hot with yogurt & Indian pickles.
There are lots of varieties & combinations of stuffed parathas. You can use the basic filling recipe as given above for Gobi Paratha or be as creative as you wish by adding your favorite combination of aromatics, spices & vegetables to create a delicious paratha filling of your choice. Use the same recipe above to make delicious Broccoli Parathas :-)
Feel free to add a little grated paneer or petite green peas to the cauliflower filling. If you are using frozen petite green peas, make sure to thaw & drain well before adding them to cauliflower in the pan.
To make Aloo Paratha (Potato Stuffed): boil 1 large potato until fork tender, mash it & cook it with a little cumin seed, green chilies, freshly grated ginger & finely minced cilantro leaves as your filling.
To make Mooli Paratha (Daikon Stuffed): cook 2 cups of grated daikon with a little cumin seed, green chilies, freshly grated ginger & finely minced cilantro leaves as your filling.
To make Onion Paratha, cook some finely minced onions with a little cumin seed, green chilies, freshly grated ginger & finely minced cilantro leaves as your filling.
*You can also add nigella seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, onion seeds (kalonji), carom seeds (ajwain), caraway seeds or even crushed red chili flakes if you prefer.
To make Kheema Paratha, just add a filling of spiced ground meat (chicken, turkey, lamb…). You can use my Turkey Kheema recipe: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art50964.asp or my Spicy Coconutty Ground Chicken Recipe: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art172658.asp
To make Paneer Paratha, add some finely grated paneer into the dough during the kneading process just before rolling the dough out. Or you can also cook some freshly grated ginger, finely minced green chilies and some finely minced onion. Then add the grated paneer & finely minced cilantro leaves to this mixture while still cooking, this makes a delicious filling.
To make Garlic Paratha, lightly sauté some finely minced garlic. Allow the garlic to cool & then add it into the dough during the kneading process just before rolling the dough out. You could also add some freshly minced herbs as well.
To make Herbed Paratha, add some finely minced herbs into the dough during the kneading process just before rolling the dough out. Fresh herbs such as rosemary, garlic chives, dill, mint, and any variety of basil… all work very well.
To make Methi Paratha, just add some freshly chopped methi leaves or even Kasuri methi (dried methi) into the dough during the kneading process just before rolling the dough out.