Parathas are supposed to be soft, rich and flaky, an indulgent flatbread. But if you’re a health nut like me who has a healthy diet parathas may not get to feature that often in your Indian bread basket except maybe on special occasions. However, you can enjoy these parathas like you would normal parathas with vegetables or meat curries or even daal and achaar (pickles) guilt free. All you need to ensure is that the ghee is not used very liberally and that you throw in some ground flax seeds into the dough mix.
Flax seeds are considered to be a wonder food and have quite a hefty reputation in the health community. Not only are they rich in healthy fats, namely essential Omega 3 fatty acids but also contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. I prefer to buy whole organic flax seeds and grind them as and when I need. Whole seeds are easier to store. They remain fresh and retain flavours longer than ground flax which if stored for too long tends to smell stale and taste rancid. It is also widely advised to consume ground flax seeds rather than whole as whole seeds have a very high chance of passing through our system completely undigested and unused. It has a nutty taste and is too dry to eat it by itself so I usually use freshly ground flax in yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, rotis and parathas. Here’s how I make my flax seed parathas:
1. Wholewheat flour (atta) – 1 cup
2. Flax seeds (ground)- 2 tablespoons
3. Ghee – 2 tablespoons
4. Salt – a pinch
5. Water – as needed
This will yield about 5 – 6 parathas.
1. On a flat shallow container take the flour and start kneading it with 1 tablespoon of ghee and water. Once a dough starts to form add the freshly ground flax seeds and knead for a while longer so as to allow the seeds to spread evenly throughout the dough.
2. Cover and let it rest for about 25-30 mins.
3. From the larger dough pull out smaller spheres of dough (about the size of a toddler’s fist) and begin to flatten it out with a rolling pin. I like round shaped parathas as compared to triangular or square ones which are very popular shapes in a lot of Bengali households.
4. On a non-stick tawa (Indian frying/ dripping pan) add a few drops of ghee from the remaining ghee and start shallow frying the parathas. Make sure that the heat is not too high or the parathas will get burnt on the top surface and won’t cook through.
5. Enjoy the parathas with whatever you like; with yogurt and pickles or with home cooked veggies or daal or meat.
So, now you don’t have to wait for that party or special occasion to enjoy your paratha. Not only do these parathas have a soft and flaky texture they also have a distinct nutty flavour thanks to the flax seeds. Now you can have your paratha and eat it too.