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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Dal Baati Churma Platter


After more than a year of mulling over and planning the recipes, and cooking, this month seemed to have come and gone in a flash. My final platter of this mega marathon comes from the desert state of India, Rajasthan known for it's culinary vibrancy in spite of it 's dismal geographical conditions. The arid conditions limit the availability of fresh produce all year round which most of us Indians take for granted. The locals had to improvise and come up with recipes using either no vegetables or dried vegetables and the available pantry staples. One would be wrong to assume that their recipe repertoire is as bleak as the surroundings or their meager supplies. 

The Rajasthani thaalis I have eaten in India have been enjoyable experiences. I can still reminisce over the abundant variety of  delicacies served and the hospitality that makes you feel at home instead of eating at a restaurant. I could not cook a Rajasthani meal as planned but instead I made this mini platter around dal baati churma which has also been on my to-do list. 
Dal baati churma needs no introduction if one is even slightly familiar with Rajasthani cuisine. It is the most iconic dish of the region and is an integral part of any celebratory meal. The dish was created again keeping in mind of the harsh geographical conditions but the combo is a delectable one where sweet and savory dishes are enjoyed together. The cuisine has dishes that can be stored for longer and batis and churma fall under that category. The dal served along with batis is panchratan dal or panchmel dal which uses a combination of five pulses. One can still try the spicy dal and enjoy even if not using all the five varieties of pulses. 

Baatis are wheat flour based hard, unleavened rolls which were originally war time food. I read that the Mewar soldiers would bury  chunks of dough under thin layers of sand to bake under the sun. They would return from the battlefield and dig out the perfectly baked baatis and eat it slathering with ghee and yogurt made from goat or camel milk. Baatis are traditionally baked over coal or in clay ovens but they can be baked in the oven which is lot easier. The baked baatis are immersed in ghee and served. Baatis can be made plain or stuffed with variations and is made with different flours as well. Baatis are made in other regions of India too with slight variations.

Churma is believed to be an accidental invention when a Mewar cook accidentally poured sugarcane juice over baatis making them sweeter and softer, which further evolved into the present day version churma. The Churma is the sweet counter part for the savory dal baati and was traditionally made by grinding the baatis / left over rotis with ghee and sugar / jaggery and optionally adding dry fruits and nuts. They can be rolled into laddus, binding them with ghee. 

This combo, a traditional delicacy filled with high calories is valued for it's high nutritional value and the longer shelf life. The combo is loaded with ghee but I did not find the flavor overwhelming and indeed enjoyed the combo. My platter contains the following dishes.

Panchmel Dal - A gravy amde with five varieties of pulses / legumes. (Recipe here.)
Baati - Oven baked wheat and semolina rolls 
Churma - A sweet dish made with wheat, semolins, sugar, ghee and nuts 
Salad - I had onions, cucumbers, tomatoes. Also lemon slices 
Ghee - To serve over baati and dal
Lehsun ki Chutney - Spicy Garlic chutney
Mirchi ke Tipore - Rajasthani Green chili pickle
Papad ki Kadhi - A chickpea flour based gravy with papad
Boondi Raita - A yogurt sauce with boondi. (Recipe here)

I have posted the following recipes so far in the series.

Week 3 - Regional Thaalis

Week 4 - Indian Flatbreads

Week 5 - Platters

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Mandyali Dham ~ Kaddu ka Khatta


Today's platter is a dham that is served in a thaali, after I failed disastrously to capture the iconic meal in leafy bowls and plates. A 'dham' is a traditional feast served in the state of Himachal Pradesh on festive occasions. The legend is that a Chamba king named Jaisthamba was fascinated by the idea of Kashmiri wazwan and ordered his cooks to prepare a vegetarian meal on similar lines to offer the Goddess. A menu thus created thirteen centuries ago slowly evolved into a 'dham'. As it was initially prepared in temples as prasad, the dham meal is completely 'satvik'. No onions, garlic, or tomatoes are used. The emphasis of cooking is mostly on pulses / legumes. Nowadays people have dhams planned for every auspicious occasion and gathering including weddings.

Winters are considered to be the best season to serve dhams according to this article which gave me sufficient info to plan for this dham. A traditional dham is always cooked by botis, brahmins who are hereditary chefs. The recipes are not handwritten and the secret recipes are passed down from generation to generation in the family. A dham preparation for a mid day meal begins the previous night. The food is cooked in a 6x2 feet trench using firewood. Thick copper and brass vessels with broad base and narrow openings are used to cook the dishes since metals are good conductors of heat and the narrow shape keeps the food warm foe longer period. The big iron kadai / woks are used to make the khattas. The guests sit on the floor in a line to eat which was originally meant to imbibe the feeling of equality among the local communities. The food is traditionally served in  biodegradable plates made with leaves.
The dhams cooked in each region of the state varies because of the diversity. Kangra dham, Mandyali dham, Chambyali dham and Bilaspuri dham are the famous ones among the lot. I chose to go with the Mandyali dham as my husband is somewhat attached to the place since his first job was in that picturesque town. Mandyali dham is known to follow the definition of a proper Ayurvedic diet. As per sage Sushrutha, a proper diet consists of six rasas, eaten in a particular order. One should start with sweet, followed by sour and salty food. Bitter and astringent food should be consumed at the end. 

Mandyali dhaam has six dishes served along with rice. 

1. Badaane ka meetha / Boondi ka meetha
Mandyali dhaam starts with a madhura rasa / sweet dish called boondi ka meetha or badaane ka meetha. Boondi or crisp, fried tiny balls of chickpea flour is cooked in sweet sugar syrup along with dry fruits. It is not shaped as laddu but the boondi is in a liquidy syrup and obviously I loved it.
2. Sepu badi
The second one in the dham would be madhura amla rasa - sweet and sour sepu badi, a dish made with fresh spinach leaves and badi. This is one of the dishes which takes a little extra time for the preparation if you are starting from the scratch as I did. For badis, black gram / urad dal need to be soaked, ground, shaped and then cooked in water. Then they are cut into cubes and fried. The badis thus prepared are cooked in a spicy gravy of spinach.  
3. Kaddu ka khatta
Next is the turn of kaddu ka khatta, a sour and sweet tasting pumpkin curry that makes up amla lavana rasa - sour and salty.
4. Kol ka khatta
The fourth one is kol ka khatta which is literally sour tasting and made from kol aka horse gram. It is sour in taste and but because of the addition of mustard powder tastes pungent.
5. Mah ki dal 
Mah ki dal which is (triktapradran - bitter dominant) black gram cooked with spices.
6. Jhol
The final one in the series is jhol which is an astringent, prepared with yogurt thinned with the addition of water and ground corn in a clay pot. The locals believe that food is not digested without drinking a cup of jhol.

I am posting the recipe for kaddu ka khatta below. As the name suggests this is a sweet and sour tasting curry which falls under my favorite realm. The curry is a simple and quick one though the list of ingredients is a lengthy one. This delicious side dish can be enjoyed with rice / rotis or pooris.

2 tbsp. mustard oil (I used olive oil.)
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds / 
sabut dhaniya, slightly crushed
1/8 tsp. fenugreek seeds (methi)
A pinch of black peppercorns (optional)
2 green chilies. sliced
A pinch of  asafoetida / hing
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 cup peeled and cubed pumpkin
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1 heaped tsp. jaggery or to taste
1 - 2 tbsp. thick tamarind puree
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. carom seeds / ajwain
Cilantro / Coriander leaves to garnish

* Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek and peppercorns if using. When cumin starts to brown add green chilies and sauté for  few seconds. 
* Add asafoetida, turmeric and pumpkin cubes. Sprinkle salt over the cubes, mix to combine and cover the pan with a lid. 
* Cook pumpkin on medium flame for about five minutes and check. If the pumpkin has softened, add the jaggery, tamarind and water. 
* Crush carom seeds slightly between palms and sprinkle over the curry. Mix well and taste. Add chili powder if and as needed. (I added about 1/4 tsp. chili powder.) Cook until the mixture slightly thickens and turn off the stove. Garnish with cilantro before serving.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Idli Platter ~ Proso Millet Idli

Idli is a popular breakfast dish from the southern parts of India, that is prepared by steaming a fermented batter of rice and black gram. They are steamed in special moulds called an idli stand which holds about two dozen idlis, the ones typically used in a household setting. Whereas the moulds used in restaurants are naturally bigger in size to hold more idlis, to cater their customers. The fact that they are steamed and use no fat in the preparation makes them an healthy breakfast choice for everyone including toddlers, the ailing or convalescing. The idlis are bland by themselves are usually served with a chutney and/or a soupy lentil gravy called sambhar.
The standard version idlis use rice and black gram that need soaking, grinding and fermenting before steaming which means that they need advance planning. There are versions with other grains substituted for rice which basically follow the same method. There are a second set of idlis where the ingredients are mixed and soaked for a short amount of time and steamed which make them instant versions. I have a few varieties of idlis in my platter today which fall under these two categories. I chose to go with about ten varieties though there are plenty of other variations. Most of the idlis in my idli platter are from Karnataka and the accompaniments I have are those side dishes popularly served in Bangalore restaurants - chutney, sambhar and saagu. Check my breakfasts page for more idli ideas.

I have the following in my idli platter.
Idli - Standard version prepared using idli rice and black gram.
Semolina idli / Rave idli (Recipe here)
Cucumber idli / Southekayi idli
Field beans Idli / Avarekayi Idli
Pumpkin idli / Kumbalakayi idli (Recipe here.)
Horse gram idli / Kulitha idli 
Flattened rice idli / Avalakki idli
Pearl millet idli / Bajra idli / Sajje idli
Proso millet idli / Baragina idli
Finger Millet idli / Ragi idli
I am posting the the proso millet idli recipe for today. I replace a portion of idli rice with either millets or millet flours in my regular idli recipe to make them healthier and nutritious. I haven't liked those idlis that much which are made adding no rice. We enjoy the version I am posting today and as far as I have noticed, the millets do not change the taste of idli at these proportions. They make a healthy and delicious breakfast or lunch along with some chutney and/or sambhar. My husband loves idli and so, I usually make a big batch of idlis and freeze them so that I don't need to make them every other day. The idlis can be refrigerated or frozen given that there are no power cuts in the area you live. If freezing, cool the idli immediately after they are demolded and put them in the freezer.  When ready to eat, heat them in the microwave, covered and you will have fresh, piping hot idlis.
1/2 cup proso millet
1/2 cup idli rice
1/2 cup black gram / urad dal
Salt to taste

* Rinse and soak the ingredients in water for about 3 to 4 hours.
* Grind them together to a thick batter adding as much as water needed. Add salt as well if living in a cold climate. 
* Transfer the batter to a container big enough (to allow the batter rise), cover and leave it aside to ferment. The fermentation may take anywhere between 8 to 14 hours depending upon the local climate. Make sure to place the batter in a warm place if living in cold climate.
* The fermented batter should look like the one below, light and frothy slightly smelling sour. Add salt if it was not added while grinding and gently mix to combine.
* Add water up to 2 inches in a steamer / idli cooker / pressure cooker base and heat it.
* Grease the idli plates and spoon the batter into moulds. Place the filled idli stand into the cooker and close the lid. Do not use the pressure valve on the lid if using a pressure cooker,.
* Steam the idlis on low heat until done, about 20 minutes or until the surface of the idli doesn't stick if touched with wet fingers. Turn off the stove.
* Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then remove the lid. Run a sharp spoon along the edges to demould the idlis.
* Serve them warm with chutney / sambhar. 
* These can be refrigerated or frozen as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Andhra Snack and Sweet Platter ~ Fried Cashews

Some 'platters' are going to be posted here this week, as part of the 'Indian Thaalis and Platters' themed month long marathon. I could not decide what to present under this theme among the jumble of ideas I had. Initially I wanted to do a colorful poori platter, a thought I have been nurturing for years now. I however discarded the idea when I cooked three pooris under breakfast theme. Some of the ideas I kept contemplating included a millet platter, steamed dishes one, a platter with variety of pohas, pakoda platter, vrat ka khana, a breakfast platter with Karnataka style 'bhaaths', 'rice' platter, parathas, dosas, guilt free snacks, sandwiches, fusion food and so on. I kept on listing the dishes that could go under each category but ended up altogether with something else when it was time to implement the ideas.

The first one in the series is a traditional platter that would have served as snack time food for kids, up until a generation ago in the state of Andhra Pradesh besides some of them being festive food. This is what my mother and her siblings would have as an after school treat, all freshly homemade and stored in big tins to snack on for a week or two. It was a time when people moved around a lot instead of being couch potatoes and no machines to substitute for their work. It was a time when kids played around instead of being glued in front of televisions and computers. Also a time when low-cal food wasn't a fad yet and hence no guilt attached to eat these high calorie foods. In fact, traditionally sunnundalu is considered to be one of the highly nutritious foods to consume.

I am not into frying that much and it would be a big fat lie if I say that I make these traditional goodies as regularly as my grand mothers used to make. Thanks to a wedding I attended in Los Angeles this February, this platter happened. The bride's parents who happen to be my cousin and his wife had brought all those sweets and chegodi from India and I happened to get a big batch of those. The rest of the savory snacks are store bought. The idea of this traditional platter occurred when I remembered that these were the snacks my mother grew up on. The only exception being jeedipappu burfi / cashew burfis that I included in this platter because I had them though my grandmother never made them. The cashews would be a special treat for guests.

I have ariselu, ladlu and cashew burfi under the sweets category.

Ariselu / Athirasalu - This is a traditional sweet prepared using freshly ground rice flour and jaggery syrup. Freshly ground flour is the key here. Store bought rice flour doesn't work in this recipe. Small portions of the dough is patted and deep fried. This stays fresh at least for two weeks or more. This sweet is commonly prepared in south India, Maharashtra and even in some eastern parts of India and go by different regional names. 

Boondi laddu - These laddus are one of the traditional sweets of India and popular through out the country. These laddus are made with fried, tiny chickpea flour balls added to sugar syrup and shaped into balls. 

Cashew burfi / Jeedipappu burfi - Burfis made with a cooked mixture of ground cashews and sugar.

Sunnundalu - A highly nutritious laddu from Andhra Pradesh which is prepared using black garm / urad dal, both with husked and skinned variety. It can also be made with moong dal. The recipe can be found here.

I have chekkalu, chakli, chegodilu, mixture, spicy cashews under the savory snacks. Chekkalu are fried rice flour crisps that are also made in other parts of south IndiaBoth chakli and chegodi are rice flour based snacks that are deep fried. Chakli are spiral shaped where as chegodilu are tiny rings. Where as mixture is literally a mixture of boondi and spicy sevs with a tempering of curry leaves and peanuts.

The fried, spicy cashews are homemade which are quick and easy to make. They are a savory treat though high in calories. Any spice powders according to preference may be added but I added only salt and chili powder here as my grandmother used to make. Also remember not to fry the cashews in big batches. Cashews turn golden brown quick and by that time all the cashews are flipped / tossed, some may get burnt.
Cashew nuts
Oil / ghee as needed for shallow frying
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste

* Heat ghee / oil in a pan and don't bring it to a smoking point. Add a handful of cashews.
* Fry them on low heat until golden brown on both sides, flipping them in between. Transfer them onto a plate lined with paper towel and fry the remaining cashews.
* Turn off the stove and transfer any remaining ghee / oil that was used to fry to another cup. Add the fried cashews back to the pan and add salt and chili powder. 
* Toss the pan well so that the cashews are coated well. Serve them immediately or store them in an airtight container.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Thalipeeth ~ Maharashtrian Multigrain Flour Flatbreads


Thalipeeth are instant flatbreads made with multigrain flour and spices combined. These savory flatbreads are a famous breakfast from the state of Maharashtra and are also made in northern parts of Karnataka. Thalipeeth are in fact similar to Karnataka rottis which are made using one particular flour instead of using a mix. This flatbread can be eaten for any meal of the day and one can attach all the positive tags to it - healthy, filling, nutritious, wholesome, tasty and guilt-free. They can be even made gluten free by leaving out the whole wheat flour from the recipe and replacing it with any other flour. They don't need any side dishes to go with but they can be served with Maharasthrian spicy condiment thecha, any spicy pickle, butter or yogurt.

Maharashtrians keep a 'bhajani' mix handy to make thalipeeth which is a combination of flours that are individually toasted and stored for later use. The combination of flours used in a bhajani varies from kitchen to kitchen and any combination of four to five flours lying in an Indian pantry would work in a thalipeeth recipe. Finger-millet flour, ground oats, urad dal flour are some of the other options one can include in a thalipeeth. There are other versions, sabudana thaipeeth and rajgira thalipeeth which meet the dietary restrictions of a 'vrat' / fasting food. I had included thalipeeth in my breakfast platter from western India. I did not toast any of the flours here as the mix was meant to be used immediately. 

1/2 cup sorghum flour (jowar ka atta)
1/2 cup pearl millet flour (bajre ka atta)
1/2 cup rice flour (chawal ka atta)
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1/4 cup wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
1 tbsp. white sesame seeds
1 tsp. carom seeds / ajwain
Salt to taste
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 cup finely minced onions
1/4 cup minced coriander leaves
1 tsp. finely minced green chillies
1 tsp. grated ginger
2 tsp. oil + extra oil for toasting

* Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add onion, coriander leaves, green chillies and ginger to the bowl. 
* Combine all the ingredients once more. 
* Add water in parts and knead into a soft dough. Add oil at the end and knead again to combine.
* (I made the thalipeeth as I make our rottis, directly patting over the pan.) Pour 1 tsp. of oil at the center of a shallow pan / tawa and place a small portion (bigger than an orange) of the dough over it, Pat it into a thin circle and make 3 or 4 holes or a hole at the center. Pour 1/4 tsp. oil around the edges and at the holes. 
The dough can be patted on a wet cloth / parchment paper into a circle and transferred to a hot, greased pan / tawa.
* Place the pan on the stove, cover it with a lid and cook on medium flame. Cook it until bottom side turns golden brown with brown spots all over and flip. Continue to cook until the other side browns as well. Remove it with a spatula.
* Using two pans simultaneously while making thalippeth saves time. If patting the dough directly on a pan as I did, then either wait until the pan cools down or wash it under cold water before making the next thalipeeth.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining dough and make thalipeeth.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bajra Aloo Roti

Bajra aka pearl millet, a healthy and gluten free grain has been grown in India for centuries. The grain is packed with nutrients, rich in fiber thus aiding in digestion and has a low glycemic index making it ideal for diabetics. However over the time, the grain somehow had been relegated to the status of rustic and rural food excepting a few states in India. Fortunately the millets are again slowly gaining popularity among the urban communities as well for their health benefits. Bajra is widely consumed in the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Maharashtra. I originally made these bajra aloo rotis for the state of Haryana but later realized that these are made in Rajasthan and Gujarat as well with variations.
These rotis are a variation to the regular bajra rotis aka pearl millet flatbreads made across the western parts of India, where bajra is widely consumed. Potato and spices are additional ingredients in this flatbread where the roti is made patting between palms and are slightly thicker than what I have made here. These are basically rustic and everyday kind breads where one doesn't need any fancy side dishes. Some butter, pickle or even plain yogurt would make an excellent accompaniment to these tasty rotis. I served them with pitla, a chickpea flour based side dish from Maharashtra which is called Bombayi chutney in Andhra.
I started slowly incorporating various millet flours into out diet a few years ago and now they have become pantry staples. I started my exploration by using them in thicker Karntaka style rottis. I make somewhat decent rotis now using bajra / pearl millet and jowar / sorghum flours though I need to yet master them. It took a lot of trial and errors since no one at back home use these flours though I learnt recently that my paternal grand mother used to cook millets regularly in place of rice when my father was a kid. One can easily incorporate various millet flours in everyday breakfast dishes like idli, dosa and rotis by starting with replacing a portion of rice / wheat flour by a millet. Similarly millets can replace rice in main dishes. One of the important things to remember regarding bajra flour is not to overstock it as the flour tends to get bitter if it sits for longer periods without getting used.
Experts and people with gluten issues can leave out the wheat flour from the recipe and make rotis, by patting them between palms or on a plastic sheet or a wet cloth and transferring them to the griddle.  However I prefer the version with an addition of wheat flour to it, which makes it comparatively easier to roll the rotis. 

Ingredients: (Yield - 10 rotis)
3/4 cup pearl millet / bajra flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp. dry mango / amchur powder
Salt to taste
3 to 4 spicy green chillies or to taste, grated 
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 potato, peeled and boiled (I had about 3/4 cup mashed.)
About 1/2 cup warm water to knead
Oil to make rotis

Mash the potato well and keep aside. Don't throw away the water used to cook the potatoes and use instead in preparing the dough. Warm it if the water has come to room temperature.
* Combine flours, salt, dry mango powder in a mixing bowl. Next add the remaining ingredients except the water and oil. Mix the ingredients well using fingers. 
* Add warm water as needed to form a slightly firm dough and allow it to rest for 30 minutes to an hour. If the dough appears sticky, add some extra wheat flour and knead.

* Knead the dough once. Divide the dough into 10 portions and roll each one into a smooth ball and pat them into discs. Place them in the bowl and keep them covered while working on each ball at a time.
* Flour the disc generously and roll into a thin circle of about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. If rolling appears difficult, roll them between two sheets of plastic or parchment paper which makes it easier to roll.

* Heat a tawa / shallow pan / skillet. Pat away any excess dough from the rolled circle and place it at the center of the griddle.
* When small bubble start to form, flip and cook for about 20 to 30 seconds. 
* Add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. oil around the edges and smear the back side of the spoon over the surface of the roti. Cook flipping once or twice in between, pressing the spatula all over the surface of the roti until brown spots appear on both sides.
* Repeat the steps of rolling and toasting the rotis with the remaining dough.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Paneer Paratha


Punjab and parathas are synonymous and including one flatbread from the region made sense when I am posting flatbread recipes from India this week. However paneer parathas was not on my mind  when I planned a Punjabi bread to be posted this week. These  parathas accidentally happened when our refrigerator suddenly decided to not work any more in April, during the height of the pandemic. 

Milk was a precious commodity then. I ordered grocery online during the initial months of pandemic but later we restricted our shopping to once a month. We depended on frozen food and the milk powder we ordered in bulk, when we ran out of milk and fresh produce in between these trips. I relied on only frozen spinach, carrots and potatoes for more than a month and I had to think really hard to come up with variety using those three vegetables. Now my husband who is the designated shopper of the family makes two quick stops per month to pick up grocery and milk. Other than that no one else is leaving the home. During such situation, allowing 3 gallons of milk (more than 10 liters) to go waste seemed like a colossal mistake and I prepared a batch of yogurt and plenty of paneer with that milk. The paneer went into a curry preparation, these parathas and a big batch of this halwa
Paneer paratha is a wheat flour based bread that is stuffed with paneer. Paneer is the popular and only cheese of India, which is prepared by curdling milk. The soft, non melting cheese is used in the preparation of a variety of curries that are widely popular and are usually served with Indian breads. These paneer parathas are commonly served as breakfast in Punjabi homes and are absolutely delicious with the soft paneer stuffed inside. 

I have used fresh, homemade paneer but if using frozen paneer, thaw it in the microwave if needed and crumble with your hands. Add the seasonings according to taste or one can add spices of their own choice. I sometimes add green chillies and sometimes I leave it out and just use red chili powder alone. Garam masala is an optional ingredient as well. I make them spicier if not preparing any side dishes and serve them with yogurt and a pickle. I keep the stuffing milder if I am planning to serve them with side dishes as I have done here. 
Ingredients for parathas: (Yield - 6 to 7 parathas)
1 and 1/4 cups atta / wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Water (I used about 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp.)
1 tsp. oil
Ghee / Oil to toast parathas
Ingredients for stuffing:
1 and 1/2 cups of crumbled paneer
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
1 tsp. cumin powder
Garam masala to taste (optional)
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. grated / finely chopped green chilis (optional)
A handful of cilantro / coriander leaves, finely minced

Directions to prepare the paratha dough:
* Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl or a wide plate. Add water to the dough and knead into a soft, pliable dough. Don't add all the water to the flour at once. Start with 1/2 cup and go on adding as needed. If accidentally more water was added then it can be fixed by just adding some extra flour and then kneading.
(The dough should not be sticky since it would be hard to roll later. I used a standard American cup to measure both dry ingredients and the water.)

* Next knead the oil into dough for about 30 seconds, cover the dough and leave it aside for a couple of hours. (I don't usually knead the dough as the resting period will allow the gluten to develop and yield soft rotis. One can knead the dough and make the rotis immediately as well but I prefer resting the dough.
* After the resting period, the rotis can be immediately made or the dough can be stored in a box with tight filling lid and refrigerated for about two days. When you want to use the dough, remove it frothe refrigerator and just zap it in the microwave for 30 - 60 seconds, depending upon the quantity of the dough. However remember to cover the dough while microwaving. Otherwise the dough will dry up.

How to prepare the stuffing:
* Add everything mentioned under "stuffing' list to a bowl and mix to combine. Divide the mixture into 6 (or 7) portions and shape them into balls. Keep them aside.

Rolling the parathas:
 Divide the dough into about 6 (or 7 if smaller rotis) portions and roll them smoothly between your palms to shape them into balls.
* Work with one dough ball at a time and keep the rest covered. 
* Roll a dough ball into 3 - 4 inch disc and place one stuffing portion at the center of the disc, leaving the edges free. 

* Bring the edges together so that there are no gaps and the stuffing is inside intact. Gently roll it between your palms into a ball.
* Press it into a disc and roll it gently into a 5 to 6 inch thin circle, dusting with flour if necessary. 
* Repeat the steps of paratha making with the remaining dough. (If a newbie to paratha making, rolling out a few and then start frying them will be easier. Or one can roll and do the frying simultaneously.)

Frying the parathas:
* Heat iron griddle or a shallow, non stick pan and place the rolled out paratha.

 * Toast it until bubbles start to appear over the surface, 
about 30 seconds and then flip. Cook for about 10 seconds more and pour 1/4 tsp. ghee / oil over and around the edges of the paratha. (I usually dab the surface of the paratha with the back of an oily spoon.

* Press 
the paratha all over gently with a spatula. Cook until the   brown spots appear on the bottom side and then flip. Cook until the other side have brown spots as well. (Each paratha takes around 50 to 60 seconds to toast.)
* Repeat the steps of rolling and toasting the parathas with the remaining dough balls and the stuffing. 
* Serve them hot with a curry of your choice or just with yogurt and a spicy pickle if they are made spicier