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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?

Seen here with wife Anjana, at the wedding of their son Moni to his new bride, Richa.

~ ~ ~

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.

Cauliflower stuffing

  • 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.

Green Chutney

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!

Parantha dough

(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.

I decided that it might also be nice just to have the fried flat breads, unstuffed, served with the 3 sides. It was.

 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.

~ ~ ~

Typical for an Indian breakfast would be:  paranthas served with a green chutney, any sort of raita and fresh seasonal fruit. 

~ ~ ~

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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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a rich post.. just bursting with flavor and the interesting story of your friend’s beaming father. I always think it’s wonderful being able to recognize and “honor” special people in our lives through out blogs.. coincidentally my husband has a friend named Prakash.. PK for short:) I would be interested in trying these dishes.. there’s nothing more exciting to me than authentic spicy cuisine!! xoxoxo Smidge

    April 29, 2012
    • Ah, thanks Smidge. My favorites in this post were the chutney, which I’ll make again and again forever, and the raita. I think the stuffing was delicious as well. It feels to me though that the paranthas are more or less a “delivery system” for all this other goodness, so I’d probably opt to eat these 3 things with simple pita, which I’ll post today. But it’s true, these Indian “spicy but not hot” flavors are so wonderful, and I have grown to really love them for breakfast! xoxo

      April 30, 2012
  2. I can’t wait to try this! What lovely flavor combinations!

    April 29, 2012
    • If you make only one Anna, let it be the chutney! 🙂 But if you try them all, I hope you’ll let me know what you thought! 🙂

      April 30, 2012
  3. This sounds amazing! And I love the story of Amit’s father. What amazing flavor and what love comes through. That chutney — yes!!

    April 29, 2012
    • You will LOVE this chutney Ash!

      April 30, 2012
  4. That is amazing. Given the chance I would eat this sort of food at every meal! I love the story of Prakash Chandra – isn´t the world full of some beautiful people?!

    April 29, 2012
    • So true Tanya! The world seems at times to be bursting with beautiful people! And certainly Sri “Moon-Light” must be one of them! 🙂

      April 30, 2012
  5. No matter the culture, weddings are such happy events! Look how your friend’s parents beam! This sounds like a delicious way to start the day, so much better than a bowl of Cap’n Crunch. Although I doubt that I’ll ever make the full meal for myself, that cumin raita is more my speed. Thanks for an interesting post today, Spree.

    April 29, 2012
    • Virtually Moon-Beaming he is! And since Amit first introduced me to these savory Indian breakfasts, I’ve become such a fan. The raita IS wonderful John…words something like those, mumbled, were the last to come out of the Guinea Pig’s mouth after breakfast yesterday. 🙂

      April 30, 2012
  6. The green chutney looks fab. Re names – in European slang, Roger is not an ideal name:)

    April 29, 2012
    • hahaha! Well, I won’t ask. 😉 I’ll just say that it must ALSO be true that some people grow beyond the names they were given!

      April 30, 2012
  7. jim callas #

    Looks and sounds wonderful!!!

    April 30, 2012
    • Think you’d really like this Jim!

      April 30, 2012
  8. These recipes look good and doable. Lovely story and the photos are gorgeous

    April 30, 2012
    • Thanks so much Wendy. DEFinitely doable! And if I were looking to save a little time, I’d use store-bought naan or pita, and serve with the accompanying sides. Really scrumptious breakfast!

      April 30, 2012
  9. This is all so beautiful. I’m near tears!

    April 30, 2012
  10. This is a beautiful post and tribute to an amazing man who is lit from within… Parantha is the best breakfast on the planet….And this chutney is so delicious I could drink it as a smoothie!

    April 30, 2012
  11. BOOTIFUL!!!

    April 30, 2012
  12. I don’t think I would have this as breakfast but I would certainly love it for lunch or dinner.

    May 1, 2012
  13. I love Indian food and I can’t wait to try that raita. The whole meal sounds like and amazing celebration and a great way to start the day.
    I loved the idea of someone growing into their name, there is an arabic proverb with a similar meaning. It roughly translates into.. Everyone takes on a share of their name. As if the name grows on you or as you put it, you grow into it 🙂

    May 3, 2012
    • LOVE that Arabic proverb Sawsan! Everyone takes on a share of their name. Beautiful. Unless of course the name given is unkind – I once worked in an elections office and came across 2 registered voters – twins – Ima and Ura Pigg. Honestly! I pray they each married someone with a last name like Beauty or Lovely. 🙂

      June 7, 2012
  14. Consider this bookmarked! I love stuffed parathas, and green chutney is an old favourite too and I always like to try different versions. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    May 16, 2012
  15. I had something similar to this fabulousness in mind for tomorrow’s lunch, and now you’ve confirmed it as a necessity. You little genius you!
    xo

    May 20, 2012
  16. The chutney has always been a fab of mine too. I was introduced to it by a friend in Mumbai who is a Parsee. She served it spread in the most delicate cucumber sandwiches with afternoon tea. They were delicious and when I buy this chutney when I can it is a fab way to use it. However, now, I am going to try and make it myself, thank you dear Spree.

    June 6, 2012

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