Sunday, 24 January 2010

Homemade Roadside Parotta

I do not quite remember exactly how old I was but I must have been in primary school when my mom took me to Saravana Bhavan and got me a parotta for the first time. She explained to me that it is layered bread and needless to ask, it was so good that I still love it. I do remember that when I had gone to Trichy with my collegemates we ate in a hotel which was probably just a shade higher than a roadside shop but the parotta was unbelievable. It was infact ‘kothu’ parotta that I had there and oops, I am drooling even as I write about it. My next closest encounter with parotta was when two of my colleagues in Chennai (one of which is my husband now !!) and myself use to go to a roadside parotta shop every Saturday. Though Saturdays were usually a holiday we use to work extra hours and this was our break. I was not very comfortable eating a parotta that was already made and that too with chicken salna (I remember my husband calling it servai though). So I would either just keep them company or have a double omlet that would be made right in front of me. Anyway, so that is pretty much how I got to know my husband loves parotta and the devoted wife that I am, I tried making it for him in Scotland. I did have the unfair advantage – it is either the parotta I make or no parotta at all as there are no south Indian restaurants close to where we live. But regardless, he was so happy with what I had made. Here is my recipe for parotta:
2.5 cups all purpose flour
Groundnut oil (that is my preference but you could use other oil like canola, vegetable, sunflower)
Take the flour in a big bowl (it needs to be big cause you need room to do all the kneading). Add salt and water to make a soft firm ball. Pour some oil on your hand and knead the dough until all the oil is absorbed. Repeat the process atleast about 6 times. By then you can expect the dough to absorb less and less oil and will turn lighter and much softer. Typically I knead for about 3 minutes. Pat some oil on the surface of the dough and cover the dough with wet tea towel or place in an airtight container. Allow the dough to rest for about 4 hours (more the merrier). Take a small ball of the dough and place on a clean work surface (I put some cling film on the worktop or table just so that it is not sticky and oil doesn’t stain the surface). Use your hand to keep flattening the dough and keep stretching it as thin as possible. It does not matter what shape it is or even if it tears in between.

Once it is almost transparent, hold two corners and start folding just like you would pleat a saree (for guys, you may be more familiar with pleating to make a paper hand fan – visiri).

Then coil and bring one of the edges to the centre. Keep this covered for about 10 minutes. I use oil to handle the dough as it makes it easier.
After about ten minutes, take it out and flatten by hand. Do not press too hard as you may lose layers. Also do not make it too thick or too thin. I noticed that as maida is very elastic it does tend to pull in and become smaller, so I tend to flatten it a bit more than I desire so that by the time I put on the tawa it is just right.

  Cook both sides on the tawa. I would recommend medium flame and no additional oil. After you make about 3-4 of them, stack them and give them nice beating on all edges (circumference) to let the layers separate.

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