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Course: Breads
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: flat bread

Paratha

ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 4 paratha
Paratha is one of my favorite flat breads, due to the unusual rolling technique which produces a unique, flakey-yet-foldable texture. Although this reads a bit scary, once you get the hang of it, it's a snap and you'll want to whip some up every time you enjoy a curry or dal. And honestly, I sometimes use fresh paratha for burritos which I realize is a cultural sin against authenticity, but dang it's good.
Note: We developed this for our final Good Eats "Flat is Beautiful" episode but just couldn't fit it in alongside the Langos and Scallion pancakes.
Photo by Lynne Calamia
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Software

Specialized Hardware

12-inch Cast-iron skillet
Rolling Pin
Parchment paper
2 half-sheetpans
2 wooden spatulas or spoons
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 4 paratha

Procedure

  • Park a 12-inch cast iron skillet in the middle of a 400℉ oven while constructing the dough. (I prefer this to simply heating on the stovetop because it ensures that the proper temp is reached and that the pan is evenly heated throughout.)
  • Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the water and mix with a silicone spatula until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead by hand for 3 minutes. Wipe out the bowl, place the dough ball inside, and coat with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to hydrate for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and divide into four equal pieces, about 110 grams each. Roll each into a ball and, using a rolling pin, shape into a 9-inch round. Evenly coat the entire surface of the dough (about 1 1/2 teaspoons).
  • Using a sharp paring knife, slit the dough from the center of the circle straight out to the edge, like a minute hand on a watch. Begin rolling one of the cut sides counterclockwise into a cone shape, rotating around the center axis. Tuck the loose ends under the base of the cone and stand it up with the point of the cone up...kinda like a little party hat. Firmly press down on the point to form a squished round approximately 2-inches tall. Transfer to a parchment-lined half-sheet pan then repeat the process with the remaining balls. Cover with the kitchen towel and rest for 30 minutes. (I know this seems like a crazy procedure but trust me, it's what gives a finished paratha it's unique, layered quality.)
  • Transfer one of the balls to a lightly floured counter and press into a flat circle with the palm of your hand, then roll into a 10-inch circle, keeping the edges slightly thinner than the center. Lightly flour a second parchment-lined half-sheet pan and transfer the dough round to the pan, then cover with another sheet of parchment. Lightly flour the top of that parchment and repeat with the remaining dough balls, stacking one on top of another, between sheets of lightly floured parchment.
  • To cook, turn the oven off and carefully place the hot skillet over medium-low heat. Have two wooden spatulas or spoons standing by. Brush the entire surface of one of the rounds with coconut oil (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) then place it oil-side down into the pan. Brush the other side (facing you) with more of the oil then flip over. Cook for a total of 1 minute, flipping the dough over every fifteen seconds. The dough should look puffy and golden brown in spots. You may need to lower the heat if your dough begins to brown too quickly. After the last flip, with the dough still in the pan, spank the entire surface with the wooden spatulas to rough up and look flaky (without tearing it into pieces). Once cooked, transfer to a large bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel. Fold the edges of the towel over the bread to help hold in any steam.
  • Repeat with the remaining rounds, adjusting the heat as needed so that the cooking time remains approximately the same. Once the final paratha is wrapped in the towel, let them steam for 5 minutes before serving warm.
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