If you’ve ever had good paratha, you’ll understand the delicious buttery, flaky brilliance of this Indian flatbread. You’ll probably also know the disappointment of ordering it somewhere and being served something dry, or otherwise a poor imitation. A friend of mine, who I’m now forever indebted to, taught me some tricks to making beautiful paratha-style roti at home. It wasn’t nearly as tricky as those failed restaurant attempts would have had me believe! The real difficulty now is resisting the temptation to make them ALL. THE. TIME. especially knowing how much butter is used…
While picking this year’s haul of wild garlic, something that I love to use to make a flavoured butter (read more here about gathering and using wild garlic), I had a bit of an “Aha!” moment. How about incorporating my wild garlic butter into a paratha recipe? Well, I tried it and my goodness it works a treat! The garlic flavour is beautifully delicate and gives the bread a lovely pop of colour too.
The first step is to get your wild garlic butter ready. If you have some already then make sure it has plenty of time to soften. You want to make sure you’ve got about 100g for this recipe. To make the butter, get 250g unsalted butter, and make sure it’s softened. Finely chop a generous handful of wild garlic and stir through the butter. Add salt to taste. Set the butter aside until ready to use, but don’t put it in the fridge just yet as you need it to be soft. This will give you plenty of butter for this recipe, and probably quite a bit more than you need. You can roll it up in some cling film so it’s a sausage shape, cool in the fridge, and slice into portions that you can then out in the freezer until you want it. It’s great for a quick garlic bread, or on a juicy steak.
To make the dough, combine 2 parts plain flour with 1 part water – 2 cups of flour makes about 4 large breads. Add the water to the flour gradually until you get a fairly wet dough, but it doesn’t stick to your fingers. You need to work it and bear with it as it will stick your fingers together to begin with, but it comes together eventually. Don’t be afraid of how sticky the dough is – you certainly don’t want it to be too dry.
Now split the dough out into tennis ball sized pieces with your fingers.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface so that it’s as thin as you can get it without it splitting. Don’t be tempted to put too much flour on as it will become too dry and grainy. Once it’s rolled out, spread over a generous helping of wild garlic butter – don’t scrimp here, it’s not meant to be healthy! Roll the dough up into a log.
Now you want to stretch it out as much as possible, again without the dough splitting too much (a little is fine). You could stretch it out with your fingers, or you can have a bit more fun with what is actually a really effective method – hold one end in one hand, and swing the other end a bit like a lasso so it slaps on to the table. It really works! Working from both ends, roll one end upwards, and the other end downwards, until they meet in the middle. Then fold one spiral over the other as if you’re closing a book. Pop the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to fry them as this will make them easier to roll out without having to use too much flour.
Once the dough has cooled and the butter has hardened, roll it it out again like a pancake – now you can see all the butter spirals.
When you’re almost ready to serve your meal, fry the paratha in plenty of butter for just a couple of minutes on each side so its golden, buttery, and crispy.
Serve flat, stacked up on a plate, or for an authentic look, fold them into quarters and serve alongside your favourite curry. They’re great on their own with a bit of chutney too.