Every now and again I make something new and I wonder how I’ve managed to get this far in my life without having them before. Paratha, specifically the Ottolenghi ones that I made for the first time, have filled a flatbread shaped hole in me I never knew I had. Ok, I make a lot of bread, and I even made some flatbreads like lavash, naan, and sangak, but I’ve never eaten anything like the South Asian paratha before.
These tasty flatbreads are unleavened (meaning they have no yeast) and are a bit chunkier than the usual flatbread. Some parathas are stuffed, most commonly with potato (something I will definitely try next) and the plain ones are supremely soft and flaky. Yep, I’d never had a flaky flatbread either. The flakes come from laminating layers of oil, ghee, or butter on the dough, then rolling it up before rolling out again, similar to when you’re making croissants.
Although I was up for the work, I was also thankful when I read this Ottolenghi recipe that gave a really good alternative – instead of the lamination, you would cut fine strips of the dough and then twist them up together into a bird’s nest shape, and then roll it out into the desired round shape. Instead of ghee, I spread an oil and za’atar mix over the dough, something I couldn’t find in Frankfurt’s Turkish supermarkets for some reason, but thankfully is pretty simple to make your own using equal parts sumac, oregano, and sesame seeds.
I cooked them in a dry pan for a couple of minutes before adding a little oil to finish them off and goodness me, they were incredible. They are flaky, soft, and lightly fried, the za’atar added lots of flavour but wasn’t overpowering, and paired with a simple dal they were one of my favourite things I’ve made so far this year. I will absolutely be making them again, especially considering I haven’t stopped thinking about them since!