Parathas smelling of ghee and atta (wheatflour) being unwrapped from a sheet of ghee (clarified butter) stained newspaper, beneath a huge neem tree, uncontrollable giggles and laughter coming together with urge to share that paratha, oozing with the love of mothers who wake up early in the morning to cook tiffins for their children – that’s what comes to my mind every time I make these ajwain parathas.
My mom never used to make them, because she never knew how to. I remember eating them from the lunch boxes of friends, who would generously share them with me, and whose moms would ever so lovingly keep an extra one so that they could be shared, and their own child is not left hungry (….oh for the love of a mother)
Those were days when, I dont know how, however much you ate, you still were hungry!
I remember we used to start from the first subject early in the morning, passing around tiffin boxes hidden below books and past the eyes of the teacher. There would be a noise of hushed whispering in the class, and understood glances amongst classmates, one hand circling the tummy and the other one in a gesture to pass the box.
I am smiling as I am writing this, and if my classmates read this they will too.
Wow, they were truly good old days. I miss my school and my class mates. Those years will always hold a very special place in my heart, and so will the people who stood close to me during those years. Food even then made memories for me.
Over the years, and getting married into a North Indian family I learnt how to cook these incredibly flavourful parathas. Hot, salty parathas, cooked in nothing but ghee, and smothered with a dollop of Kissan Mixed Fruit Jam and rolled up conveniently to bit into as you go. This is my personal favourite take away from home. Truly, there’s something addictive about this sweet and salty combination, freckled with the mild bitterness of the carrom seeds.
If you have never tried this, please do, and you will certainly be returning back for more!
Now coming to the recipe. It might look complicated, it might even read herculean, you might not get it perfect the first few times, but stay put, you will get there …….
Time taken – 1 minute per paratha
2 cups wheatflour (kneaded into a smooth soft dough allowing time to rest for about 10 minutes)
salt (a pinch per paratha – more or less as you like)
ghee (1 tspn per paratha – more or less as you like)
ajwain / carrom seeds a pinch (more will make it bitter)
Take a ball of the kneaded dough and roll it into a flat bread / roti
Now spread some ghee over it, sprinkle salt and then sprinkle the seeds
Using a serrated knife cut the roti into strips
Now carefully place one strip on top of the other – this might seem tough but do it patiently and you will get there. Dont try and pick up speed at this stage because then you will not get the layers.
Once the stacking is done, lay down the stack on the rolling pin and roll it starting from one end of the layers. At this stage the layers should be towards you.
Once the pinwheel is formed firmly press the edges and gently press the pinwheel down.
Now gently flatten it again with the rolling pin using a little more flour for dusting.
Cook this on a flat griddle pan or tawa and once both sides are cooked spread ghee and allow to crisp up a little bit till golden.
There you have it……as good as it gets. Simple yet delicious. Enjoy this with any curry. I had a friend at work whose daily breakfast were these parathas with super sweet dahi (yoghurt), and I would invariably be at her desk to have a bit of all that love that went into the making. If I didnt reach there one day, she would give me a buzz on the extention or just save a bite for me. That was so incredibly sweet of her. That’s how food bonds people. I dont even know where she is today, but I remember her kohl laced eyes and a big grin as I am writing this.