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I am a professional and a cook,rather a cook by choice and passion.Cooking is something I fantasise about.When I first thought of starting a blog,a thousand ideas coursed through my mind,albeit,none stood the sands of time.Except for the thought of a food blog accompanied by subtle nuances from daily life and from the world around me!



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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ambling down memory lane with Aloo Paratha in tow!

Sometimes when I'm just left to myself , I let my mind drift away and it amazingly fetches quite fleeting memories from bygone days that I almost never imagine I still retain!

It was on one such day,when I was sipping my morning cup of tea on a pleasant,slightly cloudy summer day that my thoughts went back to a certain Mrs.Shea.

Mrs Shea was my class teacher when I was in 2nd standard.She hailed from a family that had British roots, but she had resided in India most of her life.A tall and slim lady,she had auburn hair,flawless skin and a sparkling nicely-set row of teeth which would embellish her almost beatific smile.She was gentle-natured and got along quite well with us kids save for a scolding here and there when the boys turned a tad too unruly!I was too young to gauge her number of years back then,and all I knew was that she had three kids of her own - two sons and a daughter.They were older than us by a couple of years and she would make it a point to bring them along to any celebrations that happened at school.

I,in a way, idolized Mrs Shea.Her mild-mannered demeanor and her unwilting patience with us, taught us a valuable lesson in kindness and being humane.Standing at this juncture in life,I realize that with a husband not keeping well and children at home,she must have been plagued with worries about a whole lot of things!But not once did she lose her patience or let that sublime smile slip her lips.Not a day that I can remember!
She would almost always wear dark pleated skirts paired with floral printed blouses.On winter days,she would don a short jacket over her blouse and looked pretty smart in that!The most extravagant I've ever seen her was the day we had a feast in school and she came in a blackish red hued plaid skirt.It was a windy day nearing end of November and she had a matching short jacket on,as was customary for her.She wore a pleated blouse in cream with frills around the neck and cuffs,and looked suave. Simple but elegant stone-studded pearl earrings coupled with a pearl necklace and a dainty bracelet complemented our dear Mrs.Shea beautifully!

On some days,I used to share my 'tiffin' with her.My Mom would pack sandwiches slathered generously with butter and sprinkle sugar on top. The butter would gradually melt seeping into the soft bread encrusting the sugar crystals all the way.At lunch time,I would open my tiffin box and offer it to Mrs Shea and she would reach out and very carefully tear off a wee bit from the corner.I would persuade her to take some more with a coy 'Please,Miss'. Bemused, she would lovingly roll her eyes and tell me that Mom had packed tiffin for me to have and that wee bit would just be enough for her to enjoy!
I moved on to the next standard and then to the next and then finally I bid adieu to my lower school and left for high school.Mrs Shea lost her husband in the meantime - he was long suffering from an ailment - and she continued teaching in the same school.Mom took me to meet her before leaving lower school,but then gradually I started losing track.The last I ever heard of her was from one of my friends,who had met her one day at the grocery store in the neighboring town.She had aged with time and had silver streaks in her hair now.I so longed to catch up with my old school teacher!

For quite some time now, I've embarked on a personal mission to track down dear Mrs.Shea and in this age of internet power, I hope to break into some lead pretty soon.I just wish I could meet dear Mrs Shea once again!
I'm posting a very easy-peasy Aloo Paratha recipe which is a spicy potato filling-stuffed fried flatbread.It is an extremely popular Indian breakfast dish specially towards North India but I absolutely love having it any time of the day!I did tweak it at places to attune it to my palate - but the essential recipe has been kept the same.So here you go!

Sending this recipe to my favorite 'Hearth and Soul Blog Hop # 46' , 'Tuesdays at the tableand 'Midweek Fiesta # 6at Amy's place!!

Aloo Paratha (Potato filling-stuffed fried Indian flatbread)
You will need - 
For the Paratha - 
Plain white flour - 250 gms(for approx. 5 Parathas)
Plain cooking oil(vegetable or Canola) - 1 and 1/2 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Ajwain or Carom seeds (Available in Indian grocery stores)
Water for kneading

For the potato filling - 
2 big potatoes - Peeled and boiled with a pinch of salt
1 Red onion (big) - Finely diced
One inch of fresh ginger - Finely diced
4-5 fat cloves of garlic - finely diced
Green chillies - 2 to 3 as per taste
Whole cumin seeds - Half a teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - Optional
Fresh Cilanto - Finely chopped

Plain vegetable or Canola oil for cooking the filling and frying

How I made it - 
For preparing the dough - 
1. To start with,prepare the Paratha dough. For this,in a deep-bottomed bowl take the plain flour and add the salt and a pinch of Carom seeds.Next add in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the plain cooking oil and knead the flour lightly with your fingers.

2. Next create a well in the center of the flour in the bowl and add in half a cup of water.Coax the flour into the well of water and start kneading the flour lightly.

3. When all of the flour absorbs the water, add in half a cup more and knead a bit more firmly now to form a smooth and pliable dough.The dough should not be too dry otherwise the Paratha will not turn out as desired.

4. Once done,cover the dough lightly with a wet cloth and leave aside to rest while the potat filling is prepared.
For the filling - 
5. In a pan,take 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and heat it up.One hot, add in the whole cumin seeds and allow to splutter.Next add the diced onion, ginger and garlic and allow to cook.

6.When  the onion is fried well, add in the chillies and add in the dry powders one by one - cumin,coriander and red chili powder. Add a pinch of salt and smear a bit of water to allow the spices to cook nicely.

7. When oil starts leaving the spices, add in the boiled potatoes and mash well with the back of a spoon.Mix the potatoes very well with the spice mixture and allow the potato mash to be fried a bit to form a smooth spicy filling.

8. Now put of the heat and allow the filling to cool down a bit.For the Paratha, pare off a palmful of the dough to form a small ball and roll it gently within the palms of your hand to form a smooth roundlet. Now press with both plams to form a flattened disc and cup your palm lightly to form a small cusp in the middle.

9. Take a spoonful of the potato filling and place it in the dough cusp and then pull up the corners of the disc to cover it from all sides. Now turn the ball upside down and flatten it once again within the palm of your hands.

For the Paratha - 
10. Using a rolling pin, gently flatten out the stuffed dough to form a rough circle.Be careful not to be too hard on it otherwise the surface may break and the filling will peer out! Roll very  carefully and softly to keep the filing in place.
11. For frying the Paratha, heat a non-stick skillet and lightly smear with oil.Once hot,place the rolled out stuffed dough and allow to slightly cook on one side. Use a spatula to flip over and allow to cook on the other side as well. When both sides are lightly browned,your Paratha is ready to serve. Serve with a big dollop of butter on top. Goes well with tangy Indian Mango or Lemon pickle or have it simply with Ketchup!Tastes yummy anyway!

11 thoughtful musings left behind...:

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

It is so sweet of you. Even I have few teachers, one to be very specific, whom I am remember almost every time I think of teachers and I like to ponder on what I have accomplished and where I am and who is behind it (of course apart from my parents).

Love your aloo paratha, it is a treat anytime :)

Torviewtoronto said...

aloo paratha looks yummy beautifully done

miri goes phishing! said...

they look really yummy...i'm a big fan of Aloo Parathas myself. But only recently did I get the recipe right for some lovely homemade ones....:)

The knife said...

Hope you find your "miss' soon. I guess we all have these special teachers who have touched our lives.

The alu parathas look lovely. My granny used to make them for me and them my PG aunty. I have lot of alu paratha memories...happy ones

Wit,wok and wisdom said...

Dear Priya,
Exactly my feelings!After our parents,I think they are the ones we owe the most for whatever we are today!Glad that you liked my recipe:)

Thanks for coming Torview and so glad that you liked my recipe:)

Hello Miriam,
I love actually Aloo Paratha too much but this one was specially for the Husband;)And he liked it too!Thanks so much for dropping by!!

Hey Mr.Knife,
Seeing you after a long long time:)So how have you been?

'alu paratha memories' - I really liked how you said that!I genuinely feel that there are certain things that help affix incidents to your memory - food and songs are two such that I can name on top of my head!It really happens for me - it does!
Thanks so much for stopping by:)

Cheers and thanks for all your lovely comments!

Cynthia said...

I am always awed when my students meet me years later and tell me of the impact I have had on their lives... the funny thing is that I thought they were not listening :)

Love your aloo paratha.

Thanks for stopping by when I needed a friend.

Wit,wok and wisdom said...

Dear Cynthia,
Its always a pleasure for me to visit your place:)Thanks a ton for dropping in - great to see you!


Rathai said...

I can smell the freshly made paratha just by looking at that picture.

Sudha said...

Thanks a bunch,Rathai!so nice to see you here:)

Deeksha said...

Yummy paranthas made me hungry dear :)

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