Vegan in my kitchen - Paranthas

This week we have had a friend of ours staying. He’s a vegan animal rights activist with a peanut allergy. I like to tell him he’s annoying to cook for, but it’s actually been very good for my cooking skills, it makes me think a little creatively about what to make to feed all six of us when he comes to visit.

He comes from Los Almos in the US, he’s here in New Zealand studying political science and most importantly, he taught me how to cook paranthas!

Meet Shanti.

Yes that is quite a T-shirt he’s wearing - apparently it’s a legendary three wolf T-shirt and I’m guessing it’s a favourite judging by the amount of ventilation in it.

Lets get back to those paranthas. They are a type of layered indian bread, often with fillings tucked inbetween the layers. Parantha in Hindi literally means “layers of cooked flour”. Today he showed me how to make this yummy bread, we left some plain, had some with finely chopped onion and others with garam masala. It made roughly eight large paranthas.

Wholewheat Paranthas

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • water to mix
  • Olive oil
  • salt (optional)

Place the flours and salt in a bowl and mix to a dough with water. The dough should be pliable and not sticky, you need to be able to roll it out. If you find you’ve added a little too much water, add a little flour until you have a dough that you are happy will roll out well. Sorry there are no exact quantities given for the water, it’s just one of those things that you need to judge as you go.

Divide the dough into eight pieces.

Oil a rolling pin and the surface that you are going to work on with a little oil.

Roll out a piece of dough into a circle and spread some oil over the circle with a brush or spoon - cover the whole circle.

Fold in half and spread some more oil over the top half of the half circle

Fold in half again and again place another light coating of oil on the top of the parantha.

It should look like this

Now roll your parantha flat, trying to keep the triangular shape when you roll. It should be rolled to roughly 3mm/18th of an inch thick. The one I rolled looked more like an alien than a triangle - it had a kind of nose shape… but I guess I just need more practice.

Now cook in a frying pan or on a hot griddle that has had a little oil brushed over it. You may need to turn the parantha several times until it has cooked through, remember that it has a lot of layers. You will see it start to lose it’s doughy look when it is cooked. You can press down with a spatula on any areas that look like they are not completely cooked through.

They should have little light brown speckles on them when they are done. Shanti was not happy with the one below saying that the darker brown areas should not be there, but it was quite difficult to adjust the heat to the right temperature. It looked fine to me!

You can see the layers on the top one there - they do just peel apart - crispy on the outside and soft on the inside - really delicious.

We had ours with Aloo Gobi - also courtesy of Shanti.

He made the Aloo Gobi with romanesco from our vegetable garden

All in all a satisfying meal and some new skills learned, thanks to the guy in the three wolf t-shirt. I love having friends from diverse backgrounds that are happy to share things that are special to them.