Paratha

published Feb 24, 2022
Paratha Recipe

Buttery and flaky, this paratha recipe is made up of tender inner layers and crisp outer ones.

Makes8 paratha

Prep1 hour

Cook1 hour 12 minutes to 1 hour 28 minutes

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A stack of round Paratha (a flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent) on a round white plate
Credit: Kayla Hoang

The fresh, handmade paratha my grandmother would make was buttery and flaky, with tender inner layers and crisp outer layers that would shatter as you tore it. The way it’s smeared with ghee or butter (or, in my grandmother’s case, Crisco!), layered, and rolled by hand creates a distinct taste and texture, unlike that of its store-bought counterpart. And unlike the round paratha from the grocery store, hers were always square. Seeing that plate of square paratha meant we were going to be eating well.

Paratha has been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember. Open the freezer and you could always find a big pack of them — the round kind in the green packaging from the store. We grew up loving and devouring all those flaky layers, being sure to eat them every opportunity we had. 

Paratha, at least to me, always seemed like such an important part of the Bangladeshi food I grew up with. It made appearances often, like at breakfast or at dinner with beef curry. While we often relied on the store-bought version for convenience, it was always the biggest treat when my grandmother would make her homemade paratha. 

Paratha comes in many different forms — square, round, triangular, filled, made with different flours, and so on — and each culture and person has their own take. For this recipe, I took inspiration from the paratha my grandmother made and leaned on some of her techniques for making them at home.

What Is Paratha?

Paratha is a type of flaky, layered flatbread common throughout South Asia. They can be simple — layered with your choice of fat (such as ghee, butter, or shortening) and rolled into a variety of shapes (such as square, round, or triangular) — or they can even be stuffed or filled, such as in aloo paratha or Mughlai paratha. 

While my grandmother and many expert paratha-makers use maida (a type of all-purpose flour commonly used in South Asian cuisines), atta (a whole-wheat flour), or a combination of both, this recipe uses my go-to flour: all-purpose. The more neutral flavor from the all-purpose flour acts similarly to maida, in that it really allows the ghee or butter flavor to shine through. Folding and rolling them into squares (alternate directions for that below) is quicker and I employ it when I’m feeling especially nostalgic, but the technique for creating round paratha (similar to the technique often used for scallion pancakes) creates even more layers and greater contrast in texture between the tender inner layers and crisp, golden-brown outer layers. 

Credit: Kayla Hoang

How Do You Make Paratha?

Paratha is made from a simple dough of flour, salt, oil, and water. The dough is divided and each piece is rolled out and smeared with a generous amount of ghee, butter, or shortening, and sprinkled with flour to help provide definition between the layers. It’s then rolled or folded in a specific way depending on the end shape you want, and then given a final roll. The paratha is then cooked. First, the paratha is cooked part of the way in a dry pan to ensure the inner layers are cooked through. Then, ghee is added to the pan and the paratha is cooked in the ghee until golden-brown. 

How to Serve Paratha

  • Eat it right from the pan while it’s still extra hot.
  • Dunk it into a mug of chai or coffee.
  • One of my grandfather’s favorite ways is with sooji (also spelled suji) for a sweet, buttery treat.
  • Serve it alongside a spicy Bangladeshi beef curry (my mom’s favorite!).
  • Or serve it next to vegetable bhaji.

Paratha Recipe

Buttery and flaky, this paratha recipe is made up of tender inner layers and crisp outer ones.

Prep time 1 hour

Cook time 1 hour 12 minutes to 1 hour 28 minutes

Makes 8 paratha

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as canola, plus more as needed

  • 1 cup

    warm water

  • 3/4 cup

    ghee

Instructions

Make the dough:

  1. Place 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon neutral oil and use your hands to rub the oil into the flour until only tiny lumps remain.

  2. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour 1 cup warm water into the well. Mix with your hands until it begins to form one mass of dough. Knead the dough in the bowl until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will look lumpy and will likely not be smooth. Do not overwork.

  3. Leaving the dough in the bowl, rub a light coating of neutral oil over the surface of the dough. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough rest until hydrated, supple, and holds an indentation when poked, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soften 3/4 cup ghee if needed (ghee kept at room temperature should be soft enough to spread easily by hand). If your ghee is chilled or too hard, place a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 5-second increments until softened and spreadable, but not melted.

Roll and assemble the parantha:

  1. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 8 pieces. Dust a work surface and rolling pin very lightly with all-purpose flour. Roll and fill the dough out 1 portion at a time, keeping the remaining portions covered with plastic wrap: Place on the work surface and roll out inro a super-thin round about 14 inches wide (it does not have to be perfectly round). The dough should be so thin that you can begin to just faintly see the work surface through it.

  2. Use your fingers to spread 1 tablespoon of the ghee evenly over the dough. Sprinkle 1 to 2 pinches all-flour over the ghee to help provide definition between the layers. Starting at the bottom, roll the dough tightly up into a log. Starting at one end, coil the log up into a round to resemble a cinnamon roll. Cover with plastic wrap while you roll and fill the remaining portions of dough. Let rest for 15 minutes.

  3. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap, roll out the paratha into a round about 1/8-inch thick and 6 to 7-inches wide. Transfer to a plate and repeat rolling out the remaining paratha. If stacking the paratha, place parchment or wax paper between each to prevent sticking.

Cook the paratha:

  1. Heat a medium nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 paratha cook until the surface is beginning to turn opaque (with no browning), 2 to 3 minutes. It’s okay if it’s not totally opaque. Flip and cook until the surface of the second side is totally opaque (but not brown), 2 to 3 minutes. Flip once more and continue to cook until opaque, about 1 minute more.

  2. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 tablespoon) ghee to the pan. Move the paratha around, flipping as needed, until coated in ghee. Continue to cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat cooking the remaining paratha, reducing the heat as needed if the parathas are browning too quickly to ensure that the centers are cooked.

Recipe Notes

Unsalted butter: Softened unsalted butter can be used in place of ghee.

Make ahead: The paratha can be assembled, rolled out to the final shape, and stored stacked between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Cook refrigerated paratha per recipe instructions. Frozen paratha can be cooked straight from the freezer but will need 1 to 2 minutes more cooking time per side (make sure they are opaque).

For square paratha: Roll out a piece of dough as instructed above into a round, spread with 2 teaspoons ghee, and sprinkle with 1 to 2 pinches all-purpose flour. Fold the top third down over the middle third, spread with scant 1/2 teaspoon ghee, and sprinkle with a pinch of all-purpose flour. Fold the bottom third up, spread with scant 1/2 teaspoon ghee, sprinkle with a pinch of all-purpose flour. Fold the left third of the rectangle over the middle third, spread with scant 1/2 teaspoon ghee, and sprinkle with a pinch of all-purpose flour. Fold the right side over to create a square. Let rest covered for 15 minutes, then roll out to 1/8-inch thick, maintaining the square shape, before cooking.

Storage: Cooked paratha is best served immediately.