Paratha is a laminated flatbread typically found in the Punjab region, of northern India.
It is usually made from unleavened chapati dough using wholewheat atta flour, water and salt.
While in India I worked with some great chefs who showed me the best way to make a much lighter and flakier paratha.
The idea of topping the paratha with a cashew nut and saffron-infused ghee was inspired by a trip to Mumbai in central India.
This was the most luxurious bread I ate during my stay. In India, paratha is often filled with paneer (a type of cheese) or grated vegetables.
The secret to a lighter paratha is really quite straightforward. Use a blend of white bread flour with the atta flour.
I also find the addition of yeast to this typically unleavened bread gives the paratha a better flavour and texture.
Finally, the key to a good paratha is a good lamination technique. The rules are the same as for making croissants.
Make sure the dough and butter consistency are the same, and chill the laminated dough before use. Paratha lamination is really quite crude but does the job.
Makes 18-19 parathas
Paratha dough recipe
White bread flour - 750g
Atta flour - 250g
Natural yoghurt - 140g
Sugar - 30g
Fresh yeast - 30g
Salt - 20g
Water - 480g
Melted butter or ghee - 40g
Cashew nuts (unsalted) - 300g
Saffron - 25g
Creamed coconut - 30g
Melted butter or ghee - 140g
For the topping
In a frying pan melt 40g of the ghee on a low heat and add the cashew nuts. Cook until light golden brown then add the saffron, which has been ground down in a pestle and mortar.
Make sure the cashew nuts do not take on too much colour.
Empty the cashew nut mix from the pan into a food processor and add the creamed coconut and the remaining melted ghee and blend into a coarse textured paste. It is now ready to use.
For the dough
Place all the dough ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix on slow speed for two minutes and then mix on fast speed for five minutes until the dough is developed.
Remove from the mixing bowl, cover and bulk ferment for 90 minutes.
Scale the dough into 90g pieces and hand mould into balls. Lightly flour and cover to ferment at an ambient temperature for one hour.
Roll the dough piece on a lightly floured work surface to 11in. Spread 25g of softened butter nearly all the way to the edge. I find using the back of a spoon the easiest way to spread out the butter.
To laminate take the outside and repeatedly fold over the dough to get the concertina effect.
Coil the laminated dough into a ball shape. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. At this point, the dough could be kept for up to 48 hours.
Remove laminated dough pieces from the refrigerator and allow to recover for 10 minutes before rolling out to 8in. The butter and dough should work together freely.
To bake the paratha on a hob use a tava or frying pan. A tava is a griddle pan used in Asian cookery.
On the hob, heat the pan on a high heat and place the rolled out paratha directly onto it and bake until golden. Then flip it over and bake the other side until golden brown.
Remove from the tava and spread with 25g cashew nut and saffron topping. If the topping has set just place it in the microwave or warm it up a little until it becomes spreadable.
Alternatively parathas could be baked on a hotplate or directly on the stone sole of a deck oven operating at around 280ºC.