Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian (RD) & Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
There is no better way to start our Sunday morning, than a crunchy, flaky paratha. Simply bliss! I think many will agree that this authentic recipe is worth the indulgence. Parathas make me feel nostalgic; associated with lots of sweet memories of my childhood and special times with my children.
What is paratha?
Paratha is a South Asian flat bread, that comes in all shapes and sizes. Typically fried in oil or butter, this version is a healthier twist of a traditional Pakistani paratha. It uses minimal oil, and is jam packed with protein! With the addition of flax meal and hemp seeds; this paratha recipe definitely packs a protein punch. It is pretty dense and thus quite filling.
Parathas can be made plain (like this one), or stuffed with vegetables. Common options are radish, cauliflower, potatoes or meat. They’re accompanied with pickles, yogurt, or curries. Spices can be added to the dough as well to give different flavour profiles. But my fave growing up was the good ‘ole plain paratha – no frills or fuss! My little cousins and I would roll up our parathas like a pipe and dip them in milky cardamom tea…simply delish!
The main difference between a paratha and a roti is the addition of oil. The rolled out dough brushed with oil is folded and made into a swirl. It is rolled again with more brushing of oil, and the process repeated a couple of times. I only do this once to keep the oil to a minimum. The paratha is then rolled and fried on a tava (round girdle) or pan. The heat results in a flaky and crunchy texture.
A dish with sentimental value…
I actually hadn’t planned to share this recipe on the blog yet. Being one of my fave, I was saving it for a special occasion to share with you all. That special occasion actually arrived yesterday. The kids’ agent reached out to offer an audition to the family for a TV commercial. Asked to present our traditional and most favourite recipe, we, of course, jumped up and shouted “parathas!” It seems like this was the best time for our paratha recipe to make its grand appearance on my blog.
Just picture the excited me, given the opportunity to talk about food…no hold on “traditional desi food in celebration of our South Asian culture! Honestly, I did have to pinch myself! I spent most the night working, as my new website launched yesterday as well. YAY! I am so excited to hear what you all think of it! I spent my night learning the ropes and testing the waters on the site. Lots of learning and lots of celebrations at home 🙂
Now back to parathas…
This dish was the first ever Desi recipe that I picked up from my grandmother, Amma. I used to watch Amma cook these often. I made my first paratha at the tender age of 10. The memory has definitely stayed as I burnt the tips of my fingers rotating the paratha on the tava (girdle). I picked up the technique pretty fast though (and the skin on my fingers got thicker too!).
I have had plenty of practice making parathas the last 25 years. And am nowhere close to getting bored of them! Some folks (even I did in the early stages) struggle with rolling the paratha out into a nice round shape. Don’t let this dampen your spirits! We laugh with the kids over the weird and wonderful shapes they create. It’s just a matter of getting the hang of using the rolling pin..practice, practice! What’s great is that some parathas are actually made into triangles and squares deliberately!!
I love to make different kinds of parathas and experiment with a variety of ingredients. I either play around with the dough, using different flours (more to come on this) or the stuffing. This version of a traditional plain paratha is just one example of playing around.
I make a batch of these parathas with the kiddos at the weekend and they make perfect school lunch rolls. We stuff them with a variety of fillings, including veggie omlette, hummus, cream cheese and cucumber, chicken and salad to name just a few. They can also be frozen and reheated in the toaster or tava.
Flax and Hemp – Packing a protein punch!
I have packed this paratha recipe with flax and hemp seeds, giving it a protein punch! This will help to keep you fuller for longer. Both flax and hemp seeds are plant based, vegetarian and vegan options. They contain heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats- omega 3 & 6, and support immune and brain functioning. They have also shown to be cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory.
Let’s learn how to make a paratha!
So I have taken lots of photos for this blog piece as I wanted to capture each step. Honestly, like anything with a bit of practice, you will be well on your way. My biggest paratha hack for you is to use a mixer and not knead the dough yourself. This is so much easier and saves considerable time as well.
So, kuch kuch hota hai? If you try this recipe, would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, rate it, or share a photo and hashtag with #desiliciousrd on Instagram and twitter! Can’t wait to see your photos.
Flax and Hemp Paratha (Indian Flat Bread)
- 2 cups multigrain flour chapati flour
- 1/4 cup flax seeds ground
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds hulled
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup water tap
- 3 tsp oil for the balls of dough
- flour for dusting
- 3 tbsp oil for frying parathas
- Add the dry ingredients in mixer. I use the Kitchen Aid Stand mixer
- Combine water with dry ingredients and mix on medium/high speed for 5 mins. The mixture should be a smooth soft dough
- On a floured surface, divide the dough into 6 equal balls
- Roll out one ball into a small circle
- Add 1 tsp of oil and spread evenly
- Dust the paratha with flour
- Roll the paratha and twist as shown. This technique will help to make the paratha layered and add crunch
- Flour the surface, and roll out the paratha, dusting with flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface
- Heat the tava or frying pan on medium to high
- Place the paratha carefully on the tava or pan
- As it starts cooking, add 1/2 tbsp oil and turn your paratha so it starts to fry.
- Rotate the paratha and give it a few minutes to brown on one side before turning it over to cook the other side
- Adjust the heat to low to medium and once cooked, remove the paratha.
- Repeat the process until all the parathas are cooked
Please note the nutritional analysis values are estimates and suggestions. This nutrition facts table does not know your life - your body, including your hunger and satiety cues, change daily. It's okay to eat more or less. Say no to food guilt and instead embrace mindful eating.
Shahzadi is an award-winning registered dietitian (RD) regulated by the College of Dietitians of Ontario and certified diabetes educator (CDE), approved by the Canadian Diabetes Educator Certification Board. A YouTuber and notorious foodie, she’s dedicated to helping you end your cooking wars, transform your health, and be the best version of yourself! Shahzadi is an on-air nutrition expert for CTV Your Morning and a regular contributor for Global News and other national media outlets.