Lacha paraths are the puff pastry of flat breads. With their beautiful layered look and the interesting textural contrast these appeal to the eyes as well as the taste buds. Often served hot with spicy curries these flat breads are very popular in India . In the south these are often referred to simply as Parotta. Even the picky eaters who refuse to touch their rotis gobble these up. I make these with whole wheat flour (atta) and with much less amount of fat and they still come out flaky and delicious .
In the south there are plenty of road side shops serving these breads. These are usually made to order and served piping hot, perfect for folks to grab on the way heading home from work. Usually the roti stand will be featured prominently near the entrance to the eatery and you can watch as the cooks make it to order. “Parotta Adi ” I think the process was referred to , was considered to be a man’s trade ;-).
It is a fascinating to watch as the cooks stretch the dough by hitting it on the workbench followed by swishing and throwing the discs in the air . They make such a show of this process these that most home cooks hesitate to try these. The truth is that one does not need large counter space or huge biceps to stretch the dough. The usual rolling pin and a flat work surface is all you need. There is no need to hit or manhandle the dough.
Now if you want to work off some pent up aggression on these , who am I to say no ! Go ahead , hit and stretch away …
The street side recipes usually consists of maida (white all purpose flour) and plenty of oil. Some recipes even include eggs and a bit of leavening , typically baking soda. Maida and eggs help to stretch the dough paper thin without tearing. But other than eggs, if used , all the other ingredients have little or no nutritional value .
No, I am not trying to discourage you from eating the lovely Kerala Parotta. Just make it a little bit healthier !
The recipe is simple and starts out similar to a standard Indian Roti / Chapathi Recipe. The dough is made with atta (whole wheat flour) , a pinch of salt , a little bit of oil and enough water . One can substitute some or all of the water with diary, either milk or yogurt for a softer richer dough.
Mix the flour with salt and oil . Slowly pour water while stirring the flour to moisten it . Add Just enough eater for the dough to come together. There may be still some dry flour left in the bowl . Bring all the flour into a to ball and knead for 10 minutes till the dough feels soft and relaxes a bit . Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes .
The trick in this recipe lies in the rolling and layering . The steps are described below . It is not as detailed as I wanted , but hope this helps ..
Pinch off large lemon sized balls – if you make rotis thinks 1.5 to 2 times large – and roll them in flour .
- Roll out each ball as thin as possible. You could dust the work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking or lightly oil the surface.
- Spread about 1/2 tsp oil/ ghee on the rolled out dough. Use a pastry brush to brush the oil evenly on top . I prefer astry brush to get a light even coat of oil all over, you could use a spray bottle or just spread by hand.
- Hold the edges of of the dough farthest from you at opposite ends and start pleating it, with the oiled side coming in contact with the oiled side. The pleats should be about 1 cm or so wide . Think Chinese fans or the pleats for a sari. As yo work gather the pleats towards you and it will end as a thick piece of rope.
- Coil the rope loosely as in the picture with the oiled pleat openings facing the top.
- With the heel of the palm flatten it out to into a disc. ‘
- You could use a rolling pin as well. If using a rolling pin roll only in one direction from the center. Place the pin at the center of the disc and roll once either towards or away from you. Take the pin off and give the disc a quarter turn and repeat the process . This ensures the layers are kept apart as much as possible.
- Oil a hot griddle and place the paratha on top . Cook over medium heat until air bubbles seem to form . Drizzle a little oil (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) flip the paratha and cook on the other side .
- Once a few parathas are cooked gather then in your hands and gently shake the layers loose.
Whole Wheat Lacha Paratha
- 2 C Whole Wheat Flour / Atta
- 1 Pinch Salt
- 1- 2 Tbsp Oil/Ghee
- 1 1/2 C Lukewarm Water As Needed
- Wheat Flour To dust
- OIl/Ghee To Roast
- Mix flour and salt with the oil . Add enough water to bring all the dough together into a ball. Knead for 10 minutes till the dough relaxes a bit and feels soft. If too stiff add add a few more drops of water , conversely if the dough is too soft knead in a few tablespoons more flour . Set aside covered for at least 30 minutes , up to a couple of hours.
- Divide the dough into portions the size of a large lemon. Roll into a ball and flatten a bit to form a thick disc . Coat the disc with flour and flatten into a circle as thin as possible with a rolling pin. Dust with more flour if the dough begins to stick. Spread 1/2 tsp oil or ghee over it . Use a pastry brush (any clean 1" painter's brush will do ) to spread the oil thinly. Start pleating the circle from one end gathering it into pleats of 1 cm width. Roll the resulting rope into a loose coil with the oiled sides of the pleats facing up . Flatten this disc into a 6" circle either using the palms or with a rolling pin (refer to pics).
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan (tawa , girdle). Oil the top lightly and place the paratha on it. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When air bubbles begin to form on top, spread a little oil on and flip the paratha. Cook on the other side till done.
- After making a few parathas hold them between your hands and gently shake to loosen the pleats .
- Serve warm with your choice of curry .
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.
Serve hot !!!
Beef Fry from Kerala