Monday, January 25, 2010

Irresistible Indian

As I've mentioned before, recipes from work frequently inspire me at home. A couple weekends ago I worked an Indian cooking class, and this bread recipe jumped out at me as a 'must try'. Aloo Paratha is an Indian potato-stuffed griddle bread, and it is basically a carb and spice lovers dream. Potatoes are peeled, boiled, and then mashed with a mix of Indian spices. The bread dough is rolled out into big circles, then folded around the potato filling. Finally, the package is carefully rolled out again, to allow for even cooking. I only had a quick taste of these at work, because everyone wanted to take their leftovers home. That was a good sign to me, so I made them myself a few days later. My only issue was that it took a while to make the breads one at a time on my smaller skillet, but in the end I decided the effort was worth it.

The bread paired really well with Spinach Dhal (or lentils) from the blog Cate's World Kitchen. I remembered this recipe sounding really great when I first saw it, and I happened to have just about all of the ingredients on hand. We added a little extra seasoning (salt and curry powder), and found that improved the taste. It also tasted noticeably more flavorful the second day, after the flavors really had time to marry. I think that is usually a pretty cheesy idea, but in this case it was so true! The lunchtime leftovers were such a treat!

Aloo Paratha (Potato-Stuffed Griddle Bread)
from Irresistible Indian at The Chopping Block

For the dough:
2 cups chapatti flour (see note)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable shortening
3/4 cup warm water or more if needed

For the filling:
1 large russet potato or 2 small white potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
1/2 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Salt to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Grapeseed oil, for the griddle

1. To make the dough, mix the chapatti flour, all purpose flour, salt, sugar and ghee. Mix in the water and knead until smooth; add a small amount more water if needed to make a soft, pliable dough. Cover and rest for 30 minutes before using.
2. To make the filling, mash the potatoes in a bowl.
3. Fold in the onion, brown sugar, cilantro, cumin, coriander, salt, lemon juice, garam masala and cayenne pepper.
4. To assemble the parathas, divide the dough into 9 equal parts, and roll each into a thin disk about 10 inches in diameter.
5. Place a 1/4 cup of the filling in the center.
6. Gather the edges to the center to form 4 or 5 points, overlapping so they do not leave an opening.
7. Press gently, dust with dry flour, and proceed to roll 6 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.
8. To cook the parathas, heat a griddle over medium heat and drizzle with oil.
9. Cook the paratha until golden brown on each side. If the griddle becomes dry, drizzle with more oil.
10. Serve warm.

NOTE: Chapatti flour is an Indian flour made from whole wheat and malted barley. If you can’t find chapatti flour, substitute a mixture of equal parts whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour.

Spinach Dhal
from Cate's World Kitchen, originally from Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar

2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
5 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 medium bunch spinach, washed well and roughly chopped (leaves only)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Put the lentils, water, turmeric, and ginger in a dutch oven or large pot. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering, and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water in 1/4 cup increments if it begins to look dry. If they are particularly soupy, turn the heat up slightly so some of the water evaporates.

Add the spinach, cilantro, and a few pinches of salt, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium high for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, then pour into the lentils and stir well.

Serve immediately, with slices of fresh jalapeno (if desired)


Cate said...

I totally agree that Indian food tastes better the second day! Next time I make this I'm definitely going to make aloo paratha to go along with it.

TKW said...

What an ambitious menu! It looks well worth the time and effort. I love, love, love Indian food.