Aloo Paratha (Potato stuffed Indian flat bread)

Today I will be sharing a very simple recipe of one of my favorite comfort foods, Aloo Paratha or Indian flat bread stuffed with spiced potatoes.

It is one of the most popular recipes of Punjab but is equally popular and enjoyed all over India from north to south. Aloo paratha is a type of Indian flatbread which is stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes, pan roasted with some clarified butter or butter and served hot with yogurt or pickles. Enjoyed as a breakfast dish in north India, I personally like to have aloo parathas for lunch or dinners.

Aloo parathas bring back fond memories of my school days. I always used to relate aloo parathas with picnic as it was the the most popular item on the picnic menu in our household. I still remember my mom packing hot parathas in aluminum foils along with some sandwiches for most of my school picnic outings. I still remember how me and all of my friends used to gather all excited and sit in circles for lunch with our packed homemade goodies. They were my favorite picnic meal then and it still is now especially when it comes to preparing something easy yet delicious.

Initially it took me quite a few trials to make good parathas. Most of the times the stuffing would come out of the dough while rolling it making the rolling pin and everything around completely messy. Other times I was just not satisfied with how the filling tasted, at times it tasted bland and there were times when the dough to the filling ratio was just not right. I started making aloo parathas quite frequently after my move to US. And so after a lot of trials, errors and practice, I can now make fairly good parathas without any blunders :D.

Some quick nutrition facts about potatoes:

Before you start judging the poor potato as being unhealthy think again. If you remove all the deep frying, sour cream, cheese and all of the unhealthy dressing from the potatoes it is actually a healthy food source.

  • Potatoes are very high in Vitamin B6
  • They are a good source of potassium, copper, manganese, pantothenic acid,  phosphorus, niacin and dietary fibre
  • All in all they are good for our bones, heart health, digestion, metabolism and skin.

So if you skip the french fries, chips and all the unhealthy dressing and include them in your diet in a healthy way and in moderation they can be quite good for you.

Hence you can enjoy parathas as well provided they are drizzled with very little oil or ghee/clarified butter.

The key to making good parathas is obviously the stuffing. The stuffing should be dry or else it will come out while rolling the dough. Here are some useful tips that I have learnt when it comes to cooking the potatoes correctly:

1) I prefer cooking the potatoes by boiling them. Rinse the potatoes under running water first. In a sauce pan add water, half a teaspoon of salt and mix. Always start with cold water for even cooking of the potatoes. The water should be just enough to submerge the potatoes. Cover and cook in gently boiling water till tender. It takes anywhere between 15 – 25 mins for medium sized potatoes. Check if they are cooked by inserting a small knife, skewer or fork. If the knife easily slides without any resistance to the centre then its done.
2) Try steaming them if possible. This ensures that the potatoes become tender but without all the excess moisture. This may take more time comparatively.
3) Avoid starchy potatoes like russet because they can absorb water while cooking. I usually use white, yellow or red potatoes.
4) Do not overcook the potatoes, this will result in a very gooey and mushy potatoes and they won’t work well for the stuffing. If you have a perfectly cooked mashed potatoes then the rest of the steps are very easy.
This recipe will yield anywhere between 6 – 8 medium sized parathas
Ingredients:
For the stuffing:
2 -3 peeled and boiled mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic grated/paste
1 tsp ginger grated/paste
1 green chili chopped
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of kashmiri red chili powder (you can also use regular chili powder)
1/4 tsp of garam masala
1/4 tsp of chaat masala or amchoor powder or lemon juice
2 tbsp of chopped cilantro/coriander
2 tsp oil for tempering
Note: If you don’t like the flavor of ginger garlic and want to keep it simple, skip it completely or you can also use only ginger paste. You can also add onions if you like. Skip the green chilis and reduce the amount of chili powder if you want the stuffing less spicy. This recipe will yield mildly spicy stuffing. 
For the dough:
1 – 2 cups of whole wheat flour
Water as required
Salt to taste
1 tsp of oil
Dry flour for dusting
Method:
Preparing the dough:
1) In a large bowl add the whole wheat flour and salt. Mix well.
2) Now start adding water little at a time and start mixing with hand. Keep on adding little water at a time and knead till all the flour comes together and forms a dough.
3) Knead well to form a soft dough. Now sprinkle oil and knead again. Cover the bowl or cover the dough with cling wrap and keep it aside for 15 – 20 mins. Meanwhile you can start preparing the stuffing.
Preparing the stuffing:
1) Cook the potatoes by boiling them as mentioned above. Depending upon the size of the potatoes the cooking time can vary. Remove from hot water and let them cool for few mins. Peel them when its cool enough to handle. Mash the potatoes using a masher or a fork. Mash it real good till looks nice and even so that there are no lumps.
2) Heat oil in skillet or pan (I used very little oil for tempering you can use more if you wish). Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and let it splutter.
3) Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute for few secs on a low to medium flame till the raw smell goes away. Now add all the turmeric powder and chili powder saute for few seconds.
3) Add the mashed potatoes, salt to taste and mix thoroughly. After around 1 – 2 mins add the garam masala and amchoor/chaat masala powder/lemon juice. Mix thoroughly again. Finally add cilantro leaves and then check for seasoning. Remove the skillet from the gas stove and let the potato mixture cool for few mins.
Note: This is how I like my stuffing. You can skip the tempering and instead add all the masala directly to the mashed potatoes and use it for stuffing. 
For making the Paratha:
1) Heat a round griddle or tava on medium flame. While the skillet is getting warm start preparing the paratha.
2) Pinch out and make balls from the dough and the potato mixture. The size of the dough balls and potato mixture should be somewhat same.
2) Take one dough ball and start rolling the dough on a rolling board with the help of a rolling pin to a circle of approximately 5 inch in diameter. (Before rolling the dough you can coat the dough with some dry flour and then start rolling to avoid the dough sticking on the board. I usually avoid this step as I don’t like too much of dry flour on the paratha).
3) Place one ball of potato mixture in the centre of the rolled dough (as pictured). Now start lifting the dough from the sides and fold it to the centre (as pictured below). Make sure to seal it from above in the centre. Flatten it with hand and coat it with dry flour on both sides.
4) Start rolling the stuffed ball carefully like we do for roti/chapati. Keep rolling it till you get a round paratha of approximately 7 inch in diameter.
5) I usually keep the thickness of the paratha medium. If you wish you can make them a bit thick. However do not try to roll it very thin else the stuffing will start oozing out.
6) Grease the griddle/tava with some ghee or butter.( I used very little ghee that is less the 1/2 tsp on each side to keep it healthy.)
7) Place the paratha on the griddle and cook it on a medium flame till you can see bubbles forming on top. Add some ghee on the top as well and then flip it and cook the top side. Flip the paratha 2 to 3 times until its nice golden brown on both the sides. You can add more ghee during this stage as per your liking. I added it only once initially to keep it healthy and less greasy. And thats all, remove the paratha from the griddle/tava and similarly make rest of the parathas. Serve hot aloo parathas with pickles or yogurt. 🙂

Appam and Potato Stew….Traditional Keralite Breakfast recipe

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”.

And down south we indeed have breakfast like a king. 😀
South india and my native Kerala offers a variety of delicious dishes when it comes to breakfast. I remember having different breakfast every morning at home. Right from Idli sambhar, dosa chutney, utthapam, medu vada sambhar, puttu kadla, iddi appam, kappa, just to name a few. These were generally prepared on weekdays at our home while breakfast for Sunday’s always used to be special. I am sure many of you must be familiar with the typical dosa, masala dosa and idli. But there are very few people who have actually tried other authentic south indian breakfast dishes like puttu kadla, iddiappam and even appam & stew.  Ever since my childhood days Sunday’s special breakfast most of the time used to be appam and potato stew. The first time when i made it here in US, it was nostalgia all over and i was immediately transported to my home in India. Since then, i make it a point to prepare this dish every Sunday. I have been meaning to post this recipe like forever. Finally here it is.

Appam is a kind of a pancake made with rice and coconut, fermented overnight with yeast and served with delicious potato stew which is flavored with coconut milk. I recently served appam and stew to on of our north indian guest’s and he was quick to point out that appam is nothing but idli in the centre surrounded by dosa :P. Hahaha. Yea thats how it looks like but it tastes nothing similar to an idli or a dosa. The combination of rice, coconut and yeast yields an appam with a centre which is soft and fluffy with crispy edges. The yeast and the coconut gives a lovely taste and aroma to the appam. Appam is usually accompanied with a variety of non veg dishes as well like fish curry, chicken and beef curry. It is made in a special cast iron pan called appachatti. However the non stick varieties are nowadays easily available in the market. In this post i will be sharing the recipe for both appam as well as the potato stew served along with it.

Recipe courtesy: Mommy dearest 😀
Ingredients for Appam:
1 cup surti kolam rice/sona masoori rice
1/2 cup of freshly grated coconut
1/3 cup of cooked rice (Please read the note towards the end of the recipe if you don’t have cooked rice)
1/4 cup of water
1/2 tsp of dry active yeast (i used Fleischmann’s)
1 1/2 tsp of sugar
More water as needed for preparing the batter
Salt and sugar for taste

Method:
1) Wash the rice thoroughly (3 – 4 times) and soak it for atleast 6 – 7 hrs. You can also soak it in warm water for 3- 4 hrs to speed up the soaking process.

2) Next step is to prepare the batter. Drain the water in which the rice was soaked. Put the rice in a blender/mixer bowl. Add around a cup of water and start to grind the rice. Grind it for a few mins. Now add the grated coconut, cooked rice and around 1/3 cup of water. Grind the mixture for a good 3 – 4 mins.

3) Check the consistency of the batter. It shouldn’t be too thick. If you feel its too thick keep on adding little water and grind.

4) The final batter should be fairly thin (but not too thin also). Transfer the batter in a large bowl. Set this aside.

5) In a small saucepan add 1/4 cup of water and sugar. Heat the water on stove until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan and set it aside. At this point of time the water will be hot. You want it to be warm to touch before adding the yeast.

6) Check the temperature of the water. I simply do it by touching it. If its warm to touch then its ready for the yeast. Add the yeast and set it aside. After about 5 mins the yeast will foam up. Stir it with a spoon. (Do not add the yeast when its too hot this will kill the yeast).

7) Now add this yeast mixture into the batter. Mix thoroughly and let it ferment overnight.

8) In the morning, add salt to taste and around 1 tsp of sugar and mix well.

9) Heat your appam pan (apply a little oil with a paper towel if desired). I have a non stick pan and i usually don’t apply oil and that works fine for me. With a ladle spoon out a little batter and pour it in the centre. Now hold the pan with both your hands and roll it in such a way that the batter in the middle spreads to the sides and forms a round shape pancake. (As pictured below).

10) Cover the pan wit a lid and let it cook for 3- 4 mins or until the centre of the appam is cooked and edges are crisp.

This is how my appam pan or appachatti looks. Its from the company prestige.

Note: Most of the time i don’t have any cooked rice around. So the actual practice is that initially when you grind the rice with water (without the coconut), remove a little batter (around 1/4 cup or so) in a separate bowl or saucepan. To this add around 1/2 cup of water. Cook this mixture on a low flame until it thickens. Let it cool down to room temperature and add it to the prepared ground batter (which is the rice and the coconut) towards the end along with the yeast mixture and mix very thoroughly until the mixture is well incorporated with the batter. 

Recipe for Potato Stew:

3 -4 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1 -2 green chilies slit in the middle
1 to 1 1/2cups of freshly grated coconut (this yields around 1/2 cup of nice thick first batch of coconut milk and around 3/4 cup of second batch of coconut milk which is fairly watery and light)
Salt to taste

For tempering
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
4 -5 curry leaves
1 -2 sambar onions sliced (optional)

1) Peel and chop the potatoes and onions. Just roughly chop them into big cubes.

2) Add the potatoes, onion, green chili and salt in a pressure cooker. Add around 1 to 11/2 cups of water. Close it with the lid and let it cook until the cooker gives out 4 – 5 whistles. You can also cook the potatoes and onion in a pot until they are completely cooked through and tender.

3) While the potatoes and onion are cooking prepare the coconut milk. Add the grated coconut in a mixer bowl/blender. Add around 1/3 cup of water. Give it a few pulses. Squeeze the mixture with you hand. Strain it. This is first batch of coconut milk which will be a quite thick and creamy. Now to the squeezed coconut add more water around 3/4 cup, blend again, squeeze. This will give you very light and watery second batch of coconut milk. Keep them aside.

3) Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Do not mash it completely leave few chunks of potatoes as is. Now add the second batch of milk and let it cook for few mins until it is a little thick in consistency. It should not be too thick also. Check the seasoning. Add more salt if required. Once it reaches the desired consistency, switch of the gas. And then add the first batch of milk. Do not cook the stew after the addition of first batch of milk. Else it will cause the milk to separate and the stew will loose it creamy consistency.

4) Now the final step is tempering the stew. Add around 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil in a small pan. To that add mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Now add the chopped sambar onions (optional) and the curry leaves. Stir for few secs. Now add this tempering to the stew. Thats it potato stew is ready to be served with appams 😀

You can also make masala stew by adding turmeric powder, chili powder and a little coriander powder to the tempering. Cook it till the raw smell of the masala goes away and pour it in the stew. 

Happened to click this today morning before gobbling them down.

Give it try and let me know how it turned out. Please do not hesitate to leave any comments and questions, i will be more than happy to answer all the queries. 

Veg Toast Sandwich – Mumbai Street Food Style

Vada Pav, chaat, pav bhaaji, sandwiches, cutting chai…..these are some of the famous street food that defines Mumbai. 
I have grown up gorging these delicacies at every walk of my life. Be it at the school canteen, that little hole in the wall kinda restaurant near the college,  the sandwichwala (person selling sandwiches) right across the street from my institute or a food cart near the railway station on my way back from work. 
Mumbai street food not only makes me drool but brings back loads of memories and happy times spent with family, friends and colleagues while savoring yummy street food. 
One such mumbai comfort street food is the Veg Toast Sandwich. It comes in all kinda variety. Plain veg, with cheese, without cheese, toast sandwich, with bell peppers and cheese, only cheese and many more.

I still fondly remember the veg toast sandwich me and my friends used to have almost all the time during post graduation days. This sandwichwala had a peculiar style of serving the sandwich. He used to top it up with lots of nylon sev (small pieces of crunchy chickpea noodles) :). Absolutely yummy… and thats how i love to have it always. The other sandwichwala i still remember had a really small stall right outside the railway station. Me and my colleague happily gobbled down the yummy sandwiches made by him after work. He is very well known for the mountain of cheese that he serves with all of his cheese sandwiches. 

Hubs and me crave for the street style sandwiches every now and then and try to recreate it at home. In this post i will be sharing with you our simple recipe for the quintessential and humble veg toast sandwich street food style.

Since this is the indian version of sandwich i have used amul cheese, amul butter and maggie ketchup. Desi all the way :P.

You will need the following ingredients:
(This recipe will make approx 5 sandwiches)
10 slices of white sandwich bread (use good firm bread)
Green chutney
Amul butter (at room temperature) use more or less as per your preference
Amul cheese (slices or grated cheese) use more or less as per your preference
1 medium sized cucumbers skin removed and sliced
3 medium sized boiled potatoes skin removed and sliced
1 medium sized tomato sliced thinly
1 or 2 medium sized boiled beetroot skin removed and sliced
Chaat Masala 
Salt to taste
Maggie ketchup for serving 
Nylon sev for garnishing (optional)
You can also use thinly sliced onions along with the veggies 
For the green chutney:
This is my simple recipe for the green chutney
1- 1/2 cup of cilantro/coriander leaves 
2 -3 green chilies (you can adjust the amount of chili as per your desire)
1/2 – 1 inch piece of ginger root
1/2 tsp of oil 
1 – 2 tbsp of water 
Blend all of the above ingredients in a blender/mixer to a smooth paste. Green chutney is ready. 
For assembling the sandwich:
1) Take two slices of bread. Spread the green chutney in one slice and the other with butter. 
2) Now start layering the sandwich with cucumbers, potatoes, beetroot and tomatoes. There is no hard and fast rule as what should go first. Feel free to layer as much or less as per you liking. 
3) Sprinkle pinch of salt if you like and some chaat masala on top of the veggies. 
3) Now place a slice of cheese or spread grated cheese on top of the veggies. Place the other slice (with butter) butter side down on top of the cheese. Spread a little butter on top as well. 
4) Preheat your sandwich maker and butter the surface. Place the sandwich and cook till the bread is crisp and nice golden brown in color. 
5) Remove the sandwich from the sandwich maker. Now comes the fun part. Feel free to eat it as is. I top the bread with some green chutney, a little ketchup and finally nylon sev. Repeat the same procedure with reast of the bread slices. 
Serve hot 😀

Homemade Veggie Pizza

Ok…So i wasn’t planning to put this recipe on the blog but when i started with the prep work for my very first attempt at homemade pizza from scratch, i thought why not?

Do i know anyone who doesn’t love pizza? May be some of our moms and dads back in India hehehe…..but our generation and children are always up for it, be it a quick lunch at office, when out with friends or at the movies. Pizza has always been a hot favorite.

What i love most about pizza is that they are so versatile. You can absolutely go crazy with the toppings and yet create something delicious. Have any leftover chicken kebabs, panner tikka (cottage cheese), or veggies?? Put them as toppings for your pizza and create your very own version.

I made a simple veggie white pizza (known as pizza bianca in italian; its a pizza that contains no sauce).

I could have easily bought a premade pizza base (which is available in all possible sizes and flavors) but naahhhh….that wouldn’t have been fun at all. I have lots of patience so i prepared my own pizza base. And ya one more thing i dont have a pizza stone sooooooo i made mine on a baking sheet. Sounds crazy? Nope not at all it worked perfectly. Its just that instead of round you will get a square…no a rectangular pizza….hahaha  😛

The recipe is nothing extra ordinary or out of this world but its worth a try since mine came out to be just as delicious as any take out pizza. I read, try and test a lot of recipes that are on blogs, websites and that is how i learn. So nope this is not my creation but the toppings were my idea 😛

With this recipe you can make upto two 12inch x 8inch (i guess) pizza with a nice flat crispy base using a 15inch x 10 inch baking sheet. Sorry about the photos guys don’t have all of them but posting few which i did happen to click.

Ingredients:

For the dough

3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (maida)
1 envelope of dry yeast (7g or 1/4 oz)
1 1/3 cups of warm water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp of olive oil

For the toppings

2 cups of frozen cut broccoli, defrosted (you can also use fresh ones)
1 1/2 cups of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (you can also use fresh ones)
2 cups of chopped button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups of chopped onion
1/2 cup of chopped jalepeno
2 cups of freshly grated mozzarella cheese
2 small cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Oregano & Chili flakes for garnishing

1) In a bowl dissolve dry yeast with the warm water and set it aside for about 5- 10 mins. You will notice a frothy creamy layer forming on the top. That is what we are looking for. Make sure the water is warm and not hot before adding the yeast else they will die.

2) In another large bowl mix in the salt, sugar, olive oil with the flour. To this mixture add the yeast
(make sure to stir the yeast in the water before adding it to the flour) and knead. Yes i did this by hand. If you have a electric stand mixer please feel free to use it with the dough attachment. Mix or knead until everything is nicely combined. Brush the top of the dough with some olive oil and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a wet cloth. Put the bowl in a warm place or inside the oven (turned off).
The dough requires time for proofing. So keep the dough in a warm place for an hour.

3) In a small bowl add 1 tbsp of olive oil and to this add 2 small cloves of chopped garlic. Mix and set it aside.

4) Preheat your oven to 475 F. After an hour, remove the pizza dough from the bowl and divide it into two equal parts. Take one part of the dough and start to spread it on the baking sheet with the help of a rolling pin or by your hand.

5) Poke holes all over on top of the dough with a fork if you don’t want the base to rise too much and want it to be more flat and crispier.

6) Next generously brush the top of the dough with the garlic oil. This will give the pizza base a nice garlic flavor.

7) Now comes the easy part. Spread all the toppings starting with the jalepenos, onions and veggies. Add salt and pepper on top for seasoning. Finish off with lots of cheese.

8) Bake the pizza for 15-20 mins or until the cheese on top becomes light golden in color. Garnish with oregano and chili flakes. Repeat the same with the second pizza maybe with different toppings. Happy cooking. Enjoy.