just another ‘ordinary’ breakfast in India
Last fall I introduced you to my friend Amit who grew up in Delhi, India. (See a wonderful rice and beans dish of his mother’s, Rajmah, that I posted at the time.) Amit, a man who loves all things associated with the kitchen, has inspired me in my own. Now borrowed from him are chai, rice and bean dishes, chutney, a couple salads and several curries that he brought to the US when he immigrated here. This is Amit’s father’s birthday month and in honor of that, I was asked if I could share a favorite dish of his Dad’s too. I told my good friend I’d be happy to.
Have you ever heard the expression that a person grows into the name he or she was given? It appears to be the case with Amit’s father, a gregarious man with a smile that lights up his entire face, and possibly the entire room. His name: Prakash Chandra Jain. Prakash means light, and Chandra - moon! Can you imagine being given such a name?! And then, having the privilege of growing into it?
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Sri Prakash Chandra, since retired, had his career as an experimental physicist. He’s always been an exacting man – both in his lab and in the kitchen where he loved to cook for his family. His interest in the culinary world was already well-evidenced by the time he was a young man in college where he took the lead in his dorm’s dining hall — purchasing the food, planning the recipes for the cooking staff and in general, managing the kitchen. Experimentation wasn’t restricted to his physics lab either – he’s been known to work and work on a recipe until he’s perfected it. And one of his favorite dishes is one that Amit and his family grew up eating on a typical (ever-delicious) Delhi morning.
Paranthas stuffed with cauliflower & spices
served with cumin raita and an out-of-this-world green chutney
Sounds complicated, no? Well, it’s not a bowl of instant oatmeal or a cereal bar grabbed on the way out the door (but who writes of that?) It’s sit-down food, meant for moments to savor.
- 1 medium cauliflower, shredded (using a coarse grater)
- Grated ginger root (using fine grater) – a piece about 1 x 1-inch
- Cilantro: 2 to 3 Tablespoons, chopped (Amit’s family uses leaves only)
- 2 teaspoon Garam masala
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 jalapeño pepper (optional, but we like) – minced
(NOTE: Amit has also made this stuffing with purple potatoes, cooked & chopped finely, then prepared as in the directions for this stuffing. How very pretty that would be.)
Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and sauté until just slightly brown. Add the cauliflower and spices. Cook uncovered over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes (or until tender).
Should you have any left over, this stuffing is delicious to eat as a side.
fresh ginger – 1 inch x ½ inch piece
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
15 – 20 leaves of fresh mint
2 whole bunches of fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1½ salt (Amit likes 2)
juice of 2 limes
1 jalapeño – ribs and seeds removed
¼ to ½ water (more like 3/8)
1 to 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt (optional – I wanted to preserve the brilliant green color so didn’t add)
3 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
Peel the ginger (optional) and cut into smaller pieces. Wash the mint leaves. Chop the jalapeño pepper into several pieces. In Amit’s family they chop off the stems of the cilantro – I compromised and used one bunch without and the other with. Wash cilantro well and towel or spin dry. Blend all the ingredients in a blender (or food processor – though I tried both, I found a blender to do a much better job.) This chutney will stay fresh in the fridge for a week or two, or can be frozen. Once you taste it, you’ll be looking for things to dollop it on!
Since I made this chutney the night before we were to serve the paranthas for breakfast, and this recipe makes plenty, we had it with poached halibut and it was sensational! Bright, tangy, zesty, delicious! Highly recommend!
(Makes 8 paranthas)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (finely ground)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¾ to 1 cup water
Using a food processor makes quick work of this. Put flour in the processor bowl. Add ¾ water. Put the processor lid on and begin processing. Add additional water slowly through the feed tube as necessary for dough to collect into a ball and “clean” the interior of the bowl. (My experience was that less than the 1 cup was required.) It’s now best to set the dough aside, covered with plastic for 20 minutes to tenderize and relax so that rolling will be easier.
Making the paranthas:
Preheat a griddle to medium-high heat. Have some cooking oil ready.
Divide the dough in half, then each half again, and then each piece in half once more. (8 pieces)
Roll each out to a circle about 4 – 5 inches round
Add cauliflower stuffing (2 tbsp approximately)
Close it up and turn up side down.
Roll out again to 6 to 8 inches. I found it useful to turn over and over again several times, rolling on each side, making sure adequate flour was on the board to prevent sticking. As soon as the cauliflower stuffing threatens to pierce the dough, stop. Keeping a sealed container will allow the parantha to puff a bit as opposed to allowing the air to escape through the air holes the cauliflower can create.
Pan fry until each side is browned a bit. The parantha may puff slightly, which is a good omen I understand, but apparently not a requirement.
Amit suggests that we be generous with the oil. When browned nicely on both sides, remove from pan to layers of paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
Raita – a flavored yogurt sauce
a rough guideline is all that’s necessary
Plain yogurt + some water (you want this to be slightly soupy – drizzly – but let your own tastes be your guide)
Add salt to taste, roasted and ground cumin (so delicious here!) and sprinkle with sweet paprika & a sprinkling more of cumin when serving.
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Typical for an Indian breakfast would be: paranthas served with a green chutney, any sort of raita and fresh seasonal fruit.
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The cauliflower and the chutney were not time-consuming, and even served alongside naan or store-bought pita, this would be a lovely meal. If I find the time tomorrow, I’d like to share my recipe for pita bread – light puffs of pocket bread, positively scrumptious. I see them with a stuffing similar to the cauliflower one above, though this could be varied in infinite ways, along with a green chutney, raita, and salad greens as a wonderful light meal.
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