Lazy Sunday parathas

May 1st, 20111:03 pm @


Fresh parathas - a very nice way to start the day.

Breakfast foods are one of the big differentiators between cultures. While lunch and dinner can be fairly similar across continents and cultures – risotto and biryani could easily be second cousins, as could roast beef and raan, and vermicelli, well, it’s the easy-going kissing cousin that gets around a bit.

But the way people start their day is startlingly different, even across the same continent. I’ve a Paris-based friend who says her neighbours laugh at her “very Anglo” cereal-and-milk start to the day, while they have bread and coffee. One of the more unusual breakfasts I’ve been served was boiled eggs, tomatoes and whole chillies in Turkey.

While not strictly a breakfast dish, a favourite start to the day here in India are parathas – fried breads that come in all shapes and sizes. My wife had long baffled me with her mentions of “bed paratha”, which I always assumed was some particular variation, but it turns out she merely meant parathas served to her in bed.

My usual technique for making parathas is to ask our maid, Rajni, but there were two problems on this occasion: the temperature in our kitchen is currently approaching surface of the Sun-type numbers and I had been getting the feeling lately that she didn’t want to spend any more time in the kitchen than was necessary as she’d stopped offering to cook – and I didn’t want to ask, one doesn’t like to be a bother. The bigger problem, however, was that it was Sunday, her day off. Putting two and two together I figured I’d have to step up and have a go. The results, while not up to Ranjni standards, weren’t bad for a first stab – and my wife managed to politely eat one of the two I made for her.

This will make four parathas.


  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil (or ghee)
  • 130 ml water
  • Flour for dusting
  • Extra oil


  • Rolling pin
  • Pastry brush
  • Tawa (or any flat-surfaced frying pan)
  • Tongs


  • Mix the flour, salt, oil and water in a bowl until you get a smooth dough.
  • Cover and leave for about 15 minutes to rest.
  • Divide the dough into four pieces.
  • Take one piece and roll it into a ball.
  • Dust a bench or board with flour and roll the ball into a disc about 8 centimetres in diameter. (This sounds easier than it is and I don’t mind admitting that none of my efforts approached circular. One, in fact, was square at one point.)
  • Brush the disc with oil/ghee and fold it in half.
  • Brush the resulting half-moon shape with oil/ghee and fold the dough again, so you have a little triangle, or – if you like – a sort of doughy pocket square.
  • Gently roll the triangle until it’s a few millimetres thick and stick it on a dry frying pan that’s nice and hot.
  • Let it cook for a couple of minutes – you should start to see it puff up a bit.
  • Turn it over, brush the cooked surface with oil/ghee and let it sit for a minute or two.
  • Turn it over and oil the other side.
  • Serve it in bed with tea.

You can vary the recipe by “stuffing” the parathas. Before each folding stage, sprinkle the surface with anything that takes your fancy. Mint, poppy seeds, diced onion or – my favourite – chopped fresh chillies.

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