Saturday, 8 June 2013

Potato and Paneer Stuffed Paratha

Something deep inside me feels very guilty about eating what is basically a potato sandwich.  Way too many carbs, my conscience shouts.  The only way to lessen the guilt is to up the protein levels, which I’ve done here with the addition of paneer, a simple Indian cheese, and sesame seeds.  

A thousand times better than what a potato sandwich sounds like, this stuffed flatbread is a meal in itself.  Read on.

Did you know that when cooked potatoes are cooled, the starches in them change, thus lowering the Glycemic Index?  So the paratha is healthier still!  

Using whole wheat flour and lots of fresh ingredients also improves the overall nutrition of this light meal, which is often eaten for lunch.  But I served these for a simple Saturday night supper, along with a steaming bowl of tomato and kale masoor dal (vegetarian orange lentil stew).  

This recipe made five big and sturdy stuffed parathas.  One is a reasonable serving with a small bowl of dal. 

2 potatoes

2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin seed
(A silicone brush is great for moving spices and applying ghee.) 
1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ cup finely diced red onion1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 finely diced Thai chili (or to taste)
½ teaspoon finely diced garlic
2 teaspoons (plus) tamarind water (explained below)
½ cup paneer, diced
salt to taste

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup white sesame seeds
1 cup (plus) warm water
ghee (clarified butter)  (less than a tablespoon, if you’re behaving yourself)

Begin by poking the potatoes with a fork, and putting whole into the microwave.  Cook till soft.  (I set my machine onto ‘bake potatoes’, and it took about five minutes.  Set potatoes on countertop to cool.

Set a pan on medium heat.  Toss in the cumin, garam masala and turmeric.  Because the spices are already ground, they will roast in less than thirty seconds.  Brush them into a medium size bowl and set aside.  

Notice that this potato filling uses raw onion and garlic. Don’t worry.  As long as these are chopped finely enough, the taste will be flavourful but not raw or overwhelming.

Add the onion, garlic and chillies to the roasted spices..  Chop the baked potatoes roughly.  I leave the skins on, as nutritionists advise.  Add to the onion and spice mix.  Smoosh the potatoes into a mash and stir into the mix.  At this point the mix will be a little dry.  Taste it now, to be sure it’s powerful.  Add salt if needed.  You want it a bit over-spiced and salty, as the paneer and paratha dough will soften the flavours later.

Smoosh and stir.

Tonight's paneer came frozen, so I thawed about a third of a cup in the microwave for about thirty seconds, and chopped that roughly, and added to the onion and potato mix. 

Now for the tamarind water.  Tamarind is best bought in a block.  Use a big knife to saw off a piece,  about a marble’s worth.  Put it into a heat proof cup.  Pour boiling water over it, and set aside about twenty minutes.  

I was busy making the masoor dal during this waiting period, and I also got started on my paratha dough, which took up my twenty minutes, easily. 

Unstrained tamarind water
To make the paratha dough, put the flour and sesame seeds into a large bowl.  Don’t worry about adding salt, as the potato mix will be supplying the flavour.  Add ¾ of the water, stirring with your hand.  Gently add the rest of the water, a little more or less, to get a soft dough that picks up all the flour in the bowl, and isn’t horribly sticky on your hand.  Use your hand to mix in a circular and pushing style, to knead the dough a bit. 

By now, if twenty minutes have passed, get back to the tamarind water.  Using a spoon, smash the tamarind bits.  You can also use your fingers to smoosh the tamarind, squeezing it to separate the seeds.  Once you’ve pretty much liquefied the jelled tamarind, thus making 'tamarind water', pour it through a strainer to remove the seeds and bits.  Add to the potato mix, again tasting to be sure the mix is tangy, delicious and strong.

Now it’s time to get back to the paratha dough.  Flour your rolling surface.  Pinch off a large golf ball size of dough, roll it into a ball, and slightly flatten it. Use a rolling pin to roll it to an eighth inch thickness.  Drop a couple of tablespoons of potato mix in the centre.  

Lift up the sides of the paratha, and pinch together.  Use your hand to gently press it, then roll it out again.  This time, settle for a quarter inch thickness.  Place on a heated griddle (I set mine to medium heat, but you’ll need to experiment with your stove.)  Within a couple of minutes, the dough will change colour.  Flip the paratha, and brush with melted ghee.  Flip again, and cook for a few minutes, pressing air pockets gently with a spatula.  

Pinch and seal it up well.
Flip again, and brush with more ghee.  When the paratha is golden on both sides, remove from griddle and begin on the next.  I have a rhythm where I can roll, fill, roll, cook, flip, brush, roll, stuff, roll, flip and so on to the next paratha till they’re all done, but you might need a partner. 

If you’re having these for lunch, serve with a bit of plain yogurt and some Indian pickle. These feel like a light supper to me, when served with a vegetarian dal.  Delicious and filling, it’s a nice healthy meal!  

If you’re wondering where to buy these ingredients, please drop me a line.  If you’re in Calgary, I can supply you with names and addresses, but further away my advice can only become more general. But I'll be glad to help!
These will make great leftovers!

Woops, I was focussing on the dal and beer...


  1. Loved stuffed parathas.. And panneer and potato must be too good :)

  2. Delicious! Love that you added kasoori methi too!