Learn how to make Methi-Paneer Parathas ~ Simple and quick recipe of Indian flat bread flavoured with fresh fenugreek leaves, spring onions and Indian cottage cheese
“When are you going to teach your daughters to roll perfect roti? You should teach them soon or else they will get an earful and ruin our family name when they get married”, said the nosey distant aunt to my mother. I had just waltzed into the kitchen to fetch a glass of water and propped onto the counter facing Amma. My mother winked at me and continued to roll perfect round rotis, one after another, as I pretended not to hear the whole conversation.
It didn’t take her much time to see how ‘keen’ I was to learn this essential cooking skill which apparently is the golden ticket to man’s heart. At that point I just burst into peals of laughter and the look on the aunt’s face said she was not very amused at my antics. Trying to stifle the second round of loud laugh, I told her I don’t care a hoot about making the perfect circles as the rotis will taste the same even if they resemble the map of India or any other shapes in geometry. She looked at me straight in the eyes and what if your ‘new’ family likes only the perfectly round rotis then?! My father who came rushing into the kitchen after hearing me laugh like a maniac had heard the entire conversation between us and was happy to end the conversation by saying that he preferred his daughters to join the family where they didn’t see the shape of the rotis but the love, affection and effort that went into making it.
Being a South Indian where rice is a staple food and the said rotis made appearance on the dinner table once in a blue moon days, one would think that it’s okay if your rotis resembled the map of the world. But the nosy relative resided in the northern part of the diverse country where the language and food changes every 100 miles and had mastered the art of making perfectly round rotis that made even the full moon look not so perfect! Being in my early 20’s my knowledge of cooking was making 2-minutes noodles, making a cup of instant coffee and scraping the burnt toast which I thought enough cooking skill to survive. Although my mother loved me dearly, she did wonder every now and then when she saw the kind of ‘keen’ interest I showed in the kitchen. When I look back, I am sure she must have had difficult time when someone left such remarks on my cooking skills which every good Indian girl is supposed to master at the earliest!
Bless my parents for not pushing me into doing something that I was not interested in as it would have simply fueled my resolve to run away from garnering myself with cooking skills. My mother believed firmly in a theory that in order to start cooking, one first needs to have an interest towards it. There is no point in pushing the person if they don’t have a drive that makes them enter the kitchen and try something new. Things can only be achieved when you are interested or passionate about it. Amma always said like any other interests, cooking is fun when you have the heart to do it and I discovered this interest little late. At first cooking was the necessity to survive and then it was a healthier and cheaper option from takeaways and restaurant foods. But slowly over the period of time I fell in love with cooking after many trials and errors, burnt pots and pans, cuts and burns, and many kitchen disasters! Like many stories, this story also has a happy ending! Imperfectly perfect roti! :)
I still continue to roll imperfect rotis even after 10 years of cooking for my family. Just like what my father had told to that nosey aunt all those years ago, my family hasn’t stopped loving me for serving them rotis that are far from the perfect round rotis my amma makes. There are times when they look like a map of India or other countries and continents in the world map, but my family just appreciates the love and effort that went into making a hot rotis after a long day of work. So you see, good food may be the way into man’s heart through his stomach, but it is not the only thing that makes your family respect and love you. After all, a perfectly round roti is not a reflection of things you’ve accomplished in your life! If someone says that it is, then just laugh and move on… There are many things in life which is loved for their imperfections, like us and the imperfect rotis in my family’s case. ;)
Today I am sharing one such imperfectly round Paratha with the goodness of crunchy sprig onions, bitter fenugreek and crumbly paneer. This Methi-Paneer Paratha were sitting in my draft since last summer when the pots in our herb garden were brimming with the goodness of home grown herbs from the seeds. Throughout the summer and until the end of autumn, I grew herbs of various kinds in our little potting shed. It was undoubtedly one of the most pleasurable and rewarding things, growing food from scratch. The aroma and the flavours of freshly plucked herbs straight from the garden is undeniably the best and it was evident from the taste of the freshly cooked Methi-Paneer Parathas.
As we all know, paratha can be made two ways; one by stuffing the fillings of choice in the dough ball and rolling them and second by simply adding the ingredients to the flour while mixing and kneading them to dough before rolling and cooking. This Methi-Paneer Paratha is made using the second technique. Apart from finely chopped spring onion and methi leaves, I have also added homemade crumbly paneer which gives these Paathas a very soft texture. I have also used the whey water that is left after separating the paneer which makes this Methi-Paneer Parathas more nutritious.
There is no strict rule about following the recipe to T and you can simply omit or replace one or more ingredient with the other. You can use either homemade paneer or store brought one and can simple use warm water in place of whey if you don’t have any. If you don’t have fresh fenugreek leaves, you can simply replace them with kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), spinach, coriander leaves or any other green leafy veggies of your choice. You can spice it up by using either fresh finely chopped green chillies or by using ground spices like garam masala or red chilli powder when making the dough. This is a perfect way to sneak in the greens into kid’s lunch box and rest assured that it will come back home empty. Apart from being highly nutritious, with the fresh greens and paneer and the whey water, this Methi-Paneer Paratha is absolutely delicious. Serve them hot smeared with shudh Desi ghee, pickle and yogurt or serve them wrapped with a delicious filling of salad and dipping sauce to make a simple and easy lunch or picnic option. This Methi-Paneer Paratha is something that is loved both kids and adults alike and sure to make regular appearance on your dinner tables.
Methi-Paneer Paratha (Indian flat bread flavoured with spring onion, fresh fenugreek leaves and Indian cottage cheese)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Recipe Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Spice Level: Low
Makes: Around 12-15
Shelf Life: Best served fresh but can be refrigerated for 2 days and frozen up to a month
Serving Suggestion: With any curry or yogurt and pickle
2½ - 3 cups Atta/Whole Wheat Flour
¾ cup Paneer, crumbled or grated
¾ cup Spring Onion, finely chopped
¾ cup Methi/Fresh Fenugreek Leaves
1 - 1½ cups Whey Water (Optional. I have used the whey water retained after separating the paneer)
½ - 1 tsp Salt (Adjust as per taste)
Warm water for kneading
¼ cup Atta/Whole Wheat Flour, for dusting and rolling
Oil or ghee for cooking parathas
- Crumble the paneer into a large mixing bowl and add spring onion, fenugreek leaves, whole wheat flour and salt to taste. Mix them well.
- Slowly start adding the warm whey water or plain water little at a time and knead into soft pliable dough. Keep kneading the dough for 2-3 minutes and then cover with a towel and keep it aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Heat the tawa or griddle on a medium flame.
- While the tawa is heating, Make a golf ball sized balls and roll it using rolling pin by dusting each ball with little flour so that it don’t stick to the surface. Paratha should be rolled from centre out so that the surface has equal thickness.
- Gently dust off the excess flour and place the rolled Paratha on hot griddle. Drizzle a tsp of oil or ghee around the edges and turn it over when you see a few blisters on the surface. Cook the other side same way until little brown spots start to appear on top.
- Transfer it to the serving plate and smear its surface with ghee or oil which will keep them soft for long time.
- Serve these delicious and soft Methi-Paneer Parathas with yogurt and pickle or with any curry of your choice and enjoy!
- There is no strict rule about following the recipe to T and you can simply omit or replace one or more ingredient with the other. You can use either homemade paneer or store brought one and can simple use warm water in place of whey if you don’t have any. If you don’t have fresh fenugreek leaves, you can simply replace them with kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), spinach, coriander leaves or any other green leafy veggies of your choice.
- You can also add finely chopped green chillies or spices like garam masala and red chilli powder to make it spicier.
- You can serve these Methi-Paneer Parathas hot smeared with shudh Desi ghee, pickle and yogurt or serve them wrapped with a delicious filling of salad and dipping sauce to make a simple and easy lunch or picnic option.