I love to cook; always different varieties for the various meals of the day. But after the baby, most of my time was consumed in feeding the baby, just about finishing the house chores and possibly catching a quick nap in between all the chaos. My hubby took over, but the super dad ‘chef’ hated cooking by the book.
And so began his new project, ‘experimenting with paratha’. We all mostly try out the different fillings – such as fruits, eggs, veggies or a combination, or at most replace ghee with oil while pan frying the paratha. But he came up with some brilliant and tasty ideas I had never thought of before – no wonder all the best chefs we know are mostly men!
After a lot of persuasion, my chef finally revealed his secret ingredients in his own unique style, by making me his assistant during his dinner cooking session! The ‘paratha formula’, as we call it, now held a special place not only in my appetite but also in my recipe book…
**The Multi Flour Trick** – wheat, gram (besan), millets (ragi, jowar, bajra), oats – name it and he would have thought of adding it in different combinations. The most basic yet nutritious way of making the dough healthier!
Excitedly I tried my hands on it later the same day. My first dough came out sticky while using gram flour. I missed reducing the usual water quantity while kneading, a mistake I’ll never forget because it took forever to flatten the parathas without tearing them. The second dough was a combination of millets. This was easier to flatten with hands as it could break easily if rolled. It somehow felt drier after cooking, but with a spread of ghee on it, it was absolutely perfect and tasty!
**Crunchier is Tastier** Yes, we have all thought of adding carom seeds (ajwain) or fennel seeds (sonf). But he would coarse grind flax seeds or dry fruits and add it to the dough while kneading, making it crunchy. He would at times add mint (pudina) /curry (kadipatta) /fenugreek (methi) or even coriander (dhanya) leaves/flakes making it even tastier!
The true ‘Mineral’ Water – Finally to knead the dough he used pulses (daal) water, rice water or milk sharing a nutritive ‘mineral’ water in its true essence!
**Blend in the ‘Blend’** – Now this one took me by complete surprise! We had recently tasted a ‘beetroot’ flavoured pizza base, but it can only take a good eye to realize its application in Indian breads! All he did was blend veggies/fruits into purees and use this mash to knead the dough – nutritive and unique color/flavour every day!
These ideas did great when I eventually had to start finger foods for my baby since he had limited attention span, or for a fact appetite, to take interest in multiple meals or varieties. It became our family favorite – the one dish that could be a complete package in itself.
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