An unleavened flatbread that has won the hearts of the people in the subcontinent and as far away as in the south-east Asia too, the paratha is one such food that requires no introduction. There is no two-way of making the dish but many ways to enjoy it as plain paratha with basic potato curry or as stuffed paratha with raita or chutney or as flaky paratha with curries or even with sugar sometimes. When it comes to Mughlai paratha, the very basic definition of paratha changes, taking this to new level of gastronomical height and after a bite or two, you will realize why Bengalis are so crazy about it.
Mughlai paratha is an exemplary illustration of Mughal influence on the cuisine of Bengal that had sneaked through the kitchens of Nawabs of Murshidabad and now has become the most sought after street food of Kolkata. In its original version, the paratha is usually stuffed with keema (minced meat) and then fortified with egg, the meat filled packets are then shallow fried in hot oil.
Since it is highly greasy, the kind of stuff you wont prefer to have it often whether you are a health freak or not, so any occasion like Durga puja or Poila baisakh (Bengali new year), people makes it a point to relish this supremely delicious layered paratha or paorota in our case. The food stalls during the pujo are good way to start if you are staying outside Kolkata, but making this at home is really intimidating.
While I was in US, I once had the baked version of Mughlai paratha during the Durga pujo at Boston, it was tasty, no doubt about it but more like meat mince stuffed patties, the kind that Monginis sells. It was appetizing just for the namesake but your mind really craves for the greasy ones. The kind that every Bengali vouch for its superlative taste, the kind that makes you crazy enough and the memories that stays with you for decades.
When I said greasy, I never meant it to be drenched in oil, dripping from its corners, the kind the food stalls sells here in Bangalore. The mere thought of deep-fried mughlai paratha in over fried almost black oil, is enough to give heart attacks to the unsuspecting ones. Poor DH had tasted this two versions only, so naturally the responsibility was mine to show him the good side of this signature street food from Kolkata and to make it at least palatable.
On the very next opportunity to visit Kolkata, I specially made a plan to saviour this delectable Mughlai paratha and that leads us to the college street. He is probasi (migrant) like me too, only difference is that I had spent my college life there so when it comes to show off some bengali-ana I score better than him. I wanted to show him my college too so we decided to spent some time at the legendary Coffee house, near my college.
Even after so many years nothing had changed on a superficial level, the coffee-house still stood proudly braving the modernisation. We had ordered the mughlai paratha there, DH was certainly charmed by its retro aura. And when in all its glory the Mughlai paratha arrives, DH’s whole attention was on the serving plates which even I think can do with another round of washing. I quickly reminded him the number one rule of enjoying street food, that is to ignore it silently. Inside I felt something had changed since last decade.
Well, this was coffee-house and it was supposed to be very good if not at par with Anadi’s cabin, the man according to legends had introduced the mughlai paratha to the gourmands of Kolkata. I assured him once again as this was the place where legends have eaten before. As if its legendary reputation is immunity in itself. I secretly promised myself to compensate the unappetizing Mughlai paratha with sandesh from nakur’s or may be Flurys would be better idea. As we were enjoying the tram ride through the green carpets of Maidan, I thought in retrospect every city changes with time so does its flavours.
But the quench for a good Mughlai paratha stays with us, and that motivates us to take the plunge. The procedures are long but if you plan it well ahead in advance, many things become easier. So I had prepared the minced meat and potato curry a day before and that gives us some stress free moments. You don’t have to concentrate on too many things, just focus only on the paratha.
Making the dough is tough if you are newbie here. But if you have tasted success with samosa, this will be an easy ride for you. You need to add lot of oil to make the dough pliable, that will also ensue the end result will be super flaky paratha. Go easy on eggs and shallow fry the paratha. Instead of minced meat for the filling, you can also use only onion, green chillies and spices or mashed potatoes or even some scrambled paneer too. So here goes the recipe, and don’t worry if you can not make it right for the first time, there’s always second time.
- All purpose flour / maida : 3 cups
- Refined oil : 3 tbsp + more for greasing
- Salt : ¼ tsp
- Warm water / milk : 1 cup +/-
- Baking powder : a pinch (optional)
- Minced meat : 250 gm
- Onion : 1 large cut into slices
- Green chillies : 2-3 chopped
- Ginger-garlic paste : 1 tbsp
- Turmeric powder : (1/4 tsp)
- Cumin powder : 1 tsp
- Bengali garam masala : ½ tsp
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Oil for frying
- Red chilli powder ; ½ tsp
- Cilantro : ¼ cup finely chopped
- Potatoes : 3 large cut into cubes
- Green chillies ; 2-3 finely chopped
- Ginger paste : 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder :1/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder ; 1 tsp
- Black pepper powder : ½ tsp
- Cumin powder : 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Oil : 2 tbsp
- Eggs : 3 beaten well with pinch of salt
- Oil for shallow frying the paratha
- Onions : 1cup finely chopped
- Green chillies : 2-3 tbsp finely chopped
- Tomato ketchup
- Mustard sauce / kasundi
- Wedges of lime
- Sift the flour in a bowl, sprinkle the salt, baking powder if you are using and make a well in the center and add the oil.
- Using your fingers, rub the oil with the flour very well till it resembles fine bread crumbs.
- This will ensure the flakiness of the paratha.
- Knead the dough using warm water or milk (milk makes the dough soft), adding it slowly and knead it into very soft and pliable dough.
- The dough should be soft, pliable, stretchy and should be able to roll out thin.
- Once you attained that stage, grease the dough with the oil, cover it with damp kitchen towel and leave it to rest for 2 hours.
- Wash the minced meat (keema) in a colander, keeping a bowl underneath.
- Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan and fry the onion slices.
- keeping the heat to the maximum, add the minced meat (keema) and fry on a high heat. It will start releasing lots of water.
- Add the ginger garlic paste, all the spices, green chillies, salt and keep frying it on high heat.
- Once the water dries up, check for the seasonings, lower the heat, cover it and cook till done.
- Add few spoon of water if requires to keep the meat moist.
- Add the chopped cilantro and mix it well.
- Make this a day before and reheat it before adding it in the paratha.
- Wash and peel the potatoes, cut it into cubes
- Heat the oil in the pan, add the potatoes and fry it for few minutes.
- Add the ginger paste, green chillies, all the spices, salt and keep sauteing it.
- Add one cup water, lower the heat, cover and cook the potatoes till done.
- Once the potatoes are tender and has soaked up the water, check for the seasonings and take it from the heat.
- Make this a day ahead, reheat it and serve it with Mughlai paratha.
- Knead the prepared dough lightly for couple of minutes. Divide it into equal golf ball size sections.
- Grease the rolling pin and the board.
- Take the ball, roll out thinly into a square. Roll out as thin as possible but not paper thin, else it will not hold the stuffing well.
- Use the pictures given in the post as guide.
- Spread a teaspoon of egg evenly on to the paratha, leaving the edges.
- Place the minced meat filling in the center. Top it with 1 tsp finely chopped onions, 2-3 pieces of finely chopped green chillies and two teaspoon of egg mixture on the minced meat.
- Now fold the paratha as per the pictures, making it well enclosed packets.
- Heat the oil in the pan.
- Place one paratha in hot oil, folded side down first.
- Once it starts browning, flip it over and fry the other side.
- Flip it once more, this time slightly press the edges of the paratha for even cooking and fry till golden brown. Flip it and fry the other side till golden brown.
- Repeat the steps till the dough last.
- Serve the Mughlai paratha hot with ketchup or mustard sauce, with more sliced onion and lime wedges and with dry spicy potato curry.