Sunday, March 11, 2007

G is for Gobi Paratha

The myriad cuisines of India all love their vegetables! Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried into hundreds of vegetable dishes. In this series, the A to Z of Indian Vegetables, we take an alphabetical journey through the various avatars of vegetables relished in Indian cuisine. For each letter, we will make a tasty vegetable dish that illustrates one manner in which vegetables are savored in India.

The "G" of Indian Vegetables

The letter G inspired fourteen gorgeous Indian flavors!

First, a bountiful harvest of verdant vegetables, many of them the lush shade of green.

We start with Green Beans, also called French beans or haricots verts, those tender pods that are so versatile in Indian cooking. Usha of Samayal Ulagam stir-fries the fresh green beans with some toor dal for some extra oomph and ends up with this delicious Green Bean Poriyal.

Sheela of Delectable Victuals talks about her lovely kitchen garden and how she had to harvest her lovely grape tomatoes while they were still green and unripe. She cooks these tiny, gorgeous Green Grape Tomatoes into a delicious and filling Green Grape Tomato Rice.

A beloved tropical fruit/vegetable all over the coastal regions of India is the Green Jackfruit. The sight of these gigantic prickly green fruits swaying from the high branches of a jackfruit tree is quite a spectacle (and just a little bit scary)! Here, canned jackfruit is cooked into a quick and easy Green Jackfruit Curry by Sheela of Delectable Victuals.

Another tropical green vegetable, nah, fruit, follows: the mouth-puckering, tender Green Mango. In India, this (mid-March) is just about the time when green mangoes make their appearance in the market, at least where I come from, and people are busy considering what pickles and chutneys and relishes to make this year.Linda of Out Of The Garden found a stash of green mango in brine (it looks so juice and tender) in her fridge, and promptly converted it into a wholesome Green Mango Dal.

Next come the ever-popular Green Peas. Although fresh green peas are not very easy to find, frozen green peas are an excellent ingredient to stash away in the freezer, with handfuls ready to be used at any time. We have two recipes featuring these little pearls, each pairing green peas with another vegetable.

Green peas make a delightful appearance in a tasty curry of Green Peas with Capsicum by Swapna of Tastes From My Kitchen.

The other green peas recipe is also by a different blogger with the same name! Swapna of Swad makes a juicy curry of Green Peas with Mushrooms.

After all these green vegetables comes a bright orange one! The carrot or Gajar is abundantly harvested during the winter months in India. Here in the US, I find that carrots are one vegetable that are inexpensive, easily available and lend themselves to a thousand delicious uses. Here are two carrot recipes: one for brunch and the other for dessert.

Asha of Aroma/ Foodie's Hope starts the day right with a veggie-rich breakfast. She combines carrot and whole-wheat flour to make these nutritious and pretty Gajar Masala Rotis, which she serves with a chutney made with another "G" vegetable/spice, Garlic!

Meanwhile, carrots are a sweet treat at the end of a meal. Cooked carrots combine with almonds and cashew nuts into a creamy and rich Gajar Kheer, made by Suma of Veggie Platter.

Our next vegetable is on my shopping list every single week: the Gobi or cauliflower, with its beautiful off-white florets that pack a nutritional punch. We have two Gobi curries from two different regions of India.

Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine roasts some cauliflower florets and then cooks them in a Northen-Indian style tomato-based curry to create the decadent Gobi Masala.

Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook makes an exotic Bengali dish called Chaal Kopi or cauliflower cooked in spices with a smattering of rice, studded with peanuts and raisins. Sandeepa also shares some valuable career advice given by her little girl...you just have to read this post!

We now come to a vegetable is usually used more like a herb or spice, and is indispensable in Indian cooking: the knobby but delicious Ginger! It is the star ingredient in a spicy, sweet-and-sour treat of a Ginger Curry made by Sigma of Live to Eat. This dish is a traditional one from the Southern Indian state of Kerala, and Sigma shares her Mom's recipe, which is simplified, yet has a unique blend of flavors.

With all this talk of vegetables, let's not forget the chickpea or Garbanzo Bean, a valuable source of protein in the vegetarian diet. Here, we have a traditional family recipe for "chole" or Garbanzo beans in a spicy gravy shared by Pinki of Desi-Fusion Corner.

We end with two more delicious regional specialties!

The first is a popular dal from the Southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Shivapriya of My Cookbook uses the sunshine-hued pumpkin, called Gummadikaya in Telugu (the Andhra language) and cooks it into a beautiful, nutritious dal called Gummadikaya Pulusu.

The second regional favorite comes from the Western Indian state of Gujarat. Gujarati food is famous for its delicious snacks and appetizers, such as the ghugra, little boat-shaped turnovers that are plump with a filling of spiced peas. Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi share their recipe for a oven-baked ghugra, made with whole-wheat flour to add to the taste and nutrition!

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G is for Ginger-spiced Gobi Paratha: Vegetables and Bread

Grains form the basis of any diet, and in that respect, one might consider India to be divided horizontally down the middle: the upper (Northern) part of India is predominantly a wheat-growing region, and breads, mostly flatbreads, feature prominently in the traditional diet. India is a peninsula, and the whole Southern part has a coast, and is predominantly a rice-growing (and consuming) region. In the middle of the country, where I am from, I grew up eating a little bit of bread and a little bit of rice at every meal, a very satisfying compromise! Times have changed, and today, people all over India enjoy both wheat and rice, but the best traditional recipes reflect these regional differences, with bread recipes usually deriving from Northern India.

Breads in Indian cuisine are a world all on their own. Most Indian breads are made with whole-wheat flour that is ground to a finer consistency than the whole-wheat flour sold in the US. We call it atta, but you may also find it being sold as chappati flour. I remember, growing up, that we never bought flour from the store, we bought whole kernels of wheat instead. These would be taken to a local grain mill, where, for a small fee, they would pour your grain into an industrial-strength mill and give you freshly ground flour made right in front of your eyes. What a way to ensure quality and freshness! When you said whole-wheat, you meant just that, nothing more and nothing less. Anyway, I do think that the atta you buy here is basically packaged flour that is made the same way, by grinding whole wheat grains and not robbing them of any nutrition.

Where do the vegetables come in? Many delicious recipes combine cooked, spiced vegetables and the whole-wheat dough into one tasty bread. In general, I can think of two major ways in which this is done. In the first, easier, method, the flour is mixed in with vegetables (typically, chopped greens or mashed vegetables) and spices to make one dough. Then the dough is rolled into breads that are griddle-baked with a little oil or ghee. In the second type, the dough is kneaded with just flour, water and salt, and a separate filling of spicy vegetables is cooked. Then, while rolling the dough, the filling is encased in the dough, and you get a delicious stuffed paratha with vegetables hiding in layers of flaky griddle-baked dough.

Some of the most popular stuffed parathas come from the Northern Indian state of Punjab; one is the aloo paratha (paratha stuffed with potato) and the other is the gobi paratha (stuffed with gobi or cauliflower). For the G of Indian vegetables, I took some gobi and paired it with ginger (a match made in culinary heaven) and made stuffed parathas. Madhur Jaffrey's book, World Vegetarian, provided help in two ways: (a) she suggests that olive oil can be used to make this paratha: in the dough, to stir-fry the filling, and to cook the parathas. This is quite a bit healthier than the traditional fat (ghee), especially for breakfast! The flavors of the paratha are bold enough that I thought olive oil worked very well here. (b) Her recipe was useful for determining the proportions of filling and dough that I needed for this recipe.

I find stuffed parathas quite a challenge to make. I do not consider them a recipe for beginners. To roll out stuffed parathas into thin perfect circles without letting the filling spill out is not the easiest thing, but the only way is practice, practice, practice :) A soggy filling can ruin the paratha-rolling effort, so the filling should be as dry as possible. My parathas are still not as thin as I would like them, but they manage to taste good, so what if they are a bit thick and imperfect?

Gobi Paratha


GobiParatha
Recipe adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey; Makes 5 filling parathas.
1. Make the dough: Mix 2 cups atta (see recipe introduction), 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add enough water to make a soft dough and knead it for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp towel and set aside in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.
2. Make the filling: This is easily done while the dough is resting. You need 2 cups of finely minced or grated cauliflower, one minced fresh green chili and 1 tsp minced fresh ginger. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds, chili and ginger and stir until fragrant (few seconds). Add the grated cauliflower, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds, optional), salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Cook on low heat, uncovered, until the cauliflower is tender. You want the mixture to be very dry.
3. To make the parathas, knead the dough again for two minutes and then divide it into five portions, like so:
Dough

In the skillet, divide the filling roughly into five portions too:
Filling

Take a portion of the dough and roll it out into a fat circle (try and make the edges of the circle thinner than the center). Place one portion of the stuffing in the middle and pull up the edges to cover the filling. Press down flat and roll it out gently into a flat evenly-thick circle. Fry the paratha in a hot griddle, using a few drops of olive oil to fry each side until it is golden and well-cooked.

Left-over parathas can be refrigerated. Simply heat them in a toaster oven until they are sizzling hot and they will be as good as new.

Variations on a theme
1. Use ghee or butter to fry the paratha for a decadent treat.
2. Stuff the paratha with any combination of vegetables of your choice; it should work as long as the vegetables are minced finely/ grated and the filling is fairly dry.

How do you serve this dish?
Stuffed parathas can be devoured in endless creative ways. Here are a few...
(a) Simply serve the gobi paratha with Indian-style pickles or relishes and a cup of yogurt for a delicious breakfast, brunch or lunch. As the picture above shows, I served the paratha with some store-bought Punjabi pickle, an amazing blend of spices and some everyday vegetables like carrot, lime, raw mango, and some unusual ones like lotus root and fresh turmeric root.
(b) Cut the paratha into quarters and serve as part of a larger brunch buffet.
(c) Wrap the paratha around salad and eat as a...well, wrap!
(d) Make a "panini" by wrapping the paratha around a slice of cheese and grilling it.
(e) Cut the paratha into wedges and serve as an appetizer with some chutney as a dip.

Fellow bloggers have come up with many delicious Breads featuring Vegetables:

Potato-stuffed paratha, probably the most popular type...
Potato-Pea Paratha from Manpasand,
Quick non-stuffed potato paratha from My Khazana of Recipes,

Two breads with nutritious greens...
Spinach Cheese Paratha from Saffron Hut,
Radish Greens Paratha from The Cook's Cottage,

Two unusual creations with bread...
Beet Bread Roll from Bong Mom's Cookbook,
Avocado Paratha from Spice is Right,

Previously on the A to Z of Indian Vegetables...
A is for Aloo Gobi: North-Indian Stir-Fry
B is for Bharli Mirchi: Stuffed Vegetables
C is for Carrot-Cashew Payasam: Desserts
D is for Dum ki Arbi: Dum Style of Cooking
E is for Egg-Fried Rice: Rice and Vegetables
F is for Foogath: South-Indian Stir-Fry

20 comments:

  1. Wow, Nupur, you're making me so hungry with these parathas! And I'm so impressed with your skill; they look extremely tricky—not to mention difficult. How ambitious of you. :)

    So fun to see and tag some of the other entries, too . . .

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  2. Hi Nupur, your parathas look pretty perfect to me; what a delicious breakfast! I bet that filling is extra-tasty with ajwain... I've never tried that with cauliflower. Sounds like you're really enjoying that World Vegetarian cookbook :)
    Thanks for collecting all the other "G" goodies, too :)

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  3. Wow..so many wonderful dishes..Hey, I love Gobhi Paratha..Nupur, this write up is excellent as always..Keep up the great work!
    Swaps

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  4. Nupur,
    Lovely round up.
    For quite sometime, I have been postponing to learn making gobi parathas. Not any more after seeing your parathas.
    Thanks for the recipe.

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  5. I'm learning so much from you. I even knew that Gobi was cauliflower and was so proud of myself for knowing. Great collection of recipes.

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  6. Your parathas look absolutely professional! I've never had the courage to try to make my own. Once again, your alphabet teaches me many new things.

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  7. Nupur, another appetizing installment of receipes featuring letter 'G'? May i suggest that you kindly add a receipe for stuffed Green (bell)peppers with mashed potatoes or rice and bean fillings . It is quite a scene stealer for a special feast.

    My appetite is growing by what you are feeding us through these wonderful receipes.

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  8. nupur said:
    "Anyway, I do think that the atta you buy here is basically packaged flour that is made the same way, by grinding whole wheat grains and not robbing them of any nutrition."

    unfortunately, it's not, nupur. most pre-packaged attas in the u.s. and india have 50% all purpose flour, 50% whole wheat.

    and it doesn't smell or tate like the atta ground in the mill. only flours that explicitly state 100% whole wheat are exactly that. when we lived in CA there was a gujju store that claimed that it sold 100% whole wheat chapati flour, milled in the u.s. and hence fresher, unlike the other brands.
    their atta did taste and smell better.

    - bee

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  9. Gobi Parathas look delicious,plump and yummy!Thank you:))
    Great selection for G recipes.Great picks for lunch.Now on to the H!

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  10. Good lord! I tried making Gobi Parathas just ONCE in my lifetime..Just coudnt deal with the sogginess:( But now I get it..I should let the filing dry out as much..
    I find making Alu and methi parathas very easy as compared to gobi..:O
    Hey, reminds me 'G' for 'Gul poli' too..yet another bread that I find challenging!!
    Its sunday afternoon, and I so wish someone made these parathas for me:(

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  11. Hi Nupur,
    Darn I missed this event twice :(! The Gobi Parathas are yummy! I know what hapens when u roll them, the visions of a perfectly round evenly spread paratha somehow takes a toss! It just taks time, i guess and patience!
    Hope I can come up with something nice for H!

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  12. Lisa, :) my skill with the parathas is completely amateur-level, but they are so tasty that I could not resist attempting to make them at home.

    Hi Linda, yes, I added ajwain although the recipe did not call for it. Somehow, I associate the ajwain flavor with Punjabi parathas so, to my palate, they taste more authentic that way :)

    Thanks, Swapna! Glad you liked it!

    Hi Suma, If you have experience making other types of rotis and parathas, this should be easy.

    Kalyn, by now, you probably know the names of herbs and vegetables in a dozen languages, thanks to the global participation in WHB! I know you are a big gobi fan like me :)

    Lydia, they were quite a bit thicker than I had hoped for! Thanks for always being so encouraging, Lydia!

    Anon, I did feature stuffed green peppers last month...check for "bharli mirchi". Yes, green peppers are yet another tasty "G" vegetable!

    Bee, is that so? The reason I said that was, in my highly limited experience, all the atta packets I have seen say "Ingredients: 100% whole wheat flour" and "Made in the USA". Thanks for clarifying.

    Asha, can't wait to see what you come up with for "H"!

    Rays, yes, the sogginess can sure ruin the paratha. It will just not roll out. If that happens, my advice is, make plain parathas/ rotis with the dough and eat the filling separately as a "subzi". At least then, the food would not be wasted! For gobi paratha, it also helps if the gobi is chopped very fine (finer than I managed to get it) so that the filling will not poke out of the dough while being rolled.

    Manasi, your paratha (koki) is on my must-try list :)

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  13. Hi Nupur,

    Wonderful job!!!Gobi Paratha looks awesome

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  14. wow...i love gobi paratha. making me hungry now.
    thats a great concept of A-Z cooking. i will surely try to come up with some recipes soon. it was really good to see so many recipes of gobi and green vegetables from fellow bloggers.
    gr8 job done nupur.

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  15. Nupur, I always wanted a recipe for gobi paratha and at the same time I was hesitant to try it as I thought it wd be very difficult to roll them but ur pics tempts me to try it immediately. Its a neat work...looks very fluffy too :)

    Shn

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  16. Hi nupur
    hats off to ur patience to write this post.the parathas are looking tasty!!will try them definitely!1

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  17. Hi Nupur,
    Gobi paratha looks great.Thank you for the detailed recipe and pictures.Must try them soon.Thank you for a great round up.Durga.

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  18. Nupur,

    Those are great looking parathas ... My parathas always break becoz of the stuffing, could you post step by step pictures how u rolled out those delicious parathas ?

    You have a great site... & ur Saffrom Pear cake looks oh so mouthwatering will be trying it soon...

    Thanks,
    Aruna

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  19. looks good ..
    i invariably end up messing up the paratha ...

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  20. ok so how do you make the parathas come out so perfectly! they come out looking like a different state every time i try!

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