Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friends or Foes: Paratha or Thepla??

I've been invisible from the blogging scene again for a while. The experimenting, cooking, feeding the family and entertaining was as usual. Just did not take pictures to post. And a food-blog isn't appetizing enough unless accompanied by visuals, I think. So, I apologize and I'll make up for it....some day, and hopefully soon enough. I'm going to start backwards for now- most recent first. July 4th weekend.

A bunch of friends proposed a beach vacation. The location was decided and we rented some condos right on the water. Menu for breakfast included cereals, bagels and cream-cheese, pancakes and theplas. What in the world is a thepla; I asked the rest of the crowd.
They looked at me as if I was a 2-horned, four-headed extra-terrestrial. "You know, a methi-thepla", someone said, " that you eat for breakfast." Nope, I didn't. "It is like a chappati, but you fry in on the tawa." Ah....paratha- I get it. "No, it is not a paratha," a friend encountered with enough heat to burn holes in my heart. "Parathas and theplas are very different", she went on and then proceeded to give me a step-by-step recipe (without proportions or measurements, of course!). "Once you eat a thepla, you will never confuse it with a paratha again", was her parting shot to me, when I still didn't get the difference between the two. I wouldn't have cared about the thepla- paratha war at any other time. This particular weekend, every family was expected to bring some theplas (note the emphasis here...) to vacation house. So, I googled and came up with various recipes. What I followed is probably the closest to the Tarla Dalal version with some extras as suggested by my friend, and a last minute brainwave on my part. So here goes...I made METHI AND PUDINA-THEPLA

Methi aur Pudina ka Thepla
(Fenugreek-greens and mint stuffed flatbread)

Whole wheat flour 2 measures (+ some more for dusting)
Besan (gram flour) 1/2 measure  
Dahi 2 tbsp
Fenugreek leaves 1/2 cup packed, chopped
Mint leaves 1/4 cup loosely packed, chopped
Green chillies 3-4 chopped fine
Salt 1 tbsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tbsp
Fennel seed powder 1/2 tbsp
Oil 2 tbsp for the dough + more for cooking
Water as required
  1. Wash and pat dry the green chilles, fenugreek (methi) and mint (pudina) leaves, and chop them together.
  2. Sieve the 2 flours together, and add all the spices to it. Add the 2 tbsp oil, and 2 tbsp dahi (home made yogurt) to the flour and mix in the flour till it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Put in the chopped greens now and mix them somewhat evenly in the flour.
  4. Bring the dough together using minimal amount of water. The dough at this point feels slightly hard, sticky and non-pliable. Cover it with a damp cheesecloth and leave for 10-15 min.
  5. Knead the dough again a few times. By now it should be softer and pliable. Divide the dough into golf-ball sized portions (maybe a little bigger than that). Roll out a ball into a palm-sized circle. Slather the center of this with some vegetable oil, then gather up all the sides together like a bundle, and join them in the center.
  6. Flatten the bundle again, and roll it lightly into about a 6-8 inch circle. Use flour for dusting to make it easier to roll.
  7. Cook on a hot girdle/tawa. I turn over the parathas 3 times- first time after just about a minute on the hot pan. Then smear the face up side with a little oil, and flip again. Cook the oiled side for 2-3 min, as you slather the other side with oil, then flip again. Now the bread will puff up, cook for another minute or two, or as crisp as you want.
  8. Ready to serve....
My 2 cents: I added the mint on the fly- have never used it in Indian breads of any kind- and I love the flavor of it in this particular prep. You can play with the amount of greens in this recipe to suit your taste. And I have to tell you this- both the fenugreek and mint came from my own planter-garden, fresh and organic. I am so proud of myself- finally something I planted is growing!! And last but not the least; I think a thepla is the same as a paratha. It just changes its name as it travels from the western coast of India to the north. Come on...even Tarla Dala lcalls a thepla a spiced paratha. I did not tell my friends this last weekend, but am definitely gonna pitch a fit when I see them next (can you tell that I was the only northener amongst the bunch?....). This is exactly how I make my parathas - I just don't use the curd or oil in the dough. I strongly recommend you try this thepla and my dal-ka paratha recipe and join the poll (or war): Is a thepla the same as a paratha? Addendum: It is a coincidence that I came across this announcement for Think Spice- Thin Fenugreek event started by Sunita right after publishing this recipe. This then will be my entry for this event.