Roasted Butternut Squash and Kalonji Paratha

Super soft Roasted Butternut squash Paratha speckled with Nigella seeds

Butternut squash paratha

Recently when I was reading this, I realized just how well we, my daughter and I, fit into the foodie mom-picky eater child paradox that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I often resort to sneaking vegetables and fruits, vegetables mostly, so that my almost-five-year-old gets her nutrition while fussing less about new food she’s not comfortable eating or even touching.

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Beetroot Paratha

Cooked Beetroot and potato stuffed flatbread

I can’t say Beetroot was one of my favourite veggies growing up, nor can I say I had a distaste for it either. Whenever it was made, I would quietly go about my eating business, but with no admiration whatsoever as my likely protest. In hindsight, there weren’t too many vegetables to think of, that I didn’t quite like.
Or, may be on second thoughts, it must have got to do with some parental pressures. If only parental pressure works the same way with next-gen kids!
Three decades and a toddler later, I am now in full realization that, anytime you stand your ground as a parent is when Newton’s third law of motion tends to weigh down on one side, with a more than equal and opposite reaction. And that your preschooler is as fiercely independent as she is assertive before she’s taller than a green chilli (metaphorically), does not make it any less harder to push your ways around. With such diametric intentions at play, the outcome is more often than not a tug of war, only tied.
Before I start to sound like I lost my way in the meandering roads of parenting woes, let me assure you, I have a point.
Beetroot has got a lot to do with how tricky it is to trudge the meal-time path, when you are on the other side of the fence, for once. One under 3 feet toddler is all it takes to drive you to your wit’s end. No amount of hard-selling or broker talk suffices to negotiate a simple deal, to eat.
Knowing that Beetroot boasts of considerable levels of iron and a fair share of antioxidants and is also super rich in Vitamin B, which parent would want to give it a pass, don’t you think?
Deal or No deal, the only option I am left with was to disguise Beetroot in a form acceptable to her whims and fancies. And my efforts to camouflage it smartly led to this tasty treat, which not only passed my toddler’s taste tests with flying colors but also exceeded our own expectations as well. The bloody turnip never tasted this good!
If there is anything like Beetroot heaven, this recipe surely gets a place just outside the pearly gates, IMHO* that is.
BTW, Did you know that Beetroot was known for its use as an aphrodisiac during Roman times?
*In my humble opinion
Things you’ll need:
For filling:
  • 1 medium Beet root grated
  • 1 medium Potato boiled and mashed
  • 1 tsp Jeera/Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Jeera/Cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp Garam masala
  • 4-5 strands cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
For paratha dough:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour for dough
  • additional whole wheat flour for rolling/dusting
  • salt
  • warm water
  • oil for roasting
How it’s done:

{Beet root and potato filling and stuffing}

  • First, mix the whole wheat flour and salt to taste along with warm water and knead into a soft dough. The dough consistency should be softer than that for chapati/roti. Cover and set aside for at least 30 mins
  • Microwave the grated Beetroot for 2-3 mins to partially cook it and reduce its water content
  • Heat oil in a medium-sized kadai/skillet over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and let splutter. Once spluttered, add the cumin powder and turmeric powder followed by the microwaved grated beet root and sauté for about 5-10 mins until the hissing sound dies down.
  • Add boiled and mashed potato, garam masala and salt and stir well to mix.
  • Sprinkle chopped cilantro, mix well and keep aside to cool.
  • Knead the dough well again and roll it into lemon sized balls.
  • With both your thumbs and fore-fingers, shape the dough ball into a bowl.
  • Place a spoonful of the beetroot and potato filling in the dough bowl. Bring together all the edges of the dough bowl to the center and cover shut. Now, on your palm, pat the dough flat at point of joining.
  • Dust it in the wheat flour kept for rolling and roll out flat using a rolling-pin.
  • Roast the rolled out paratha on a heated tawa/griddle on both the sides until brown spots appear. Do smear a little oil on both sides.
  • Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

{Beetroot paratha – from rolling to griddle-roasting}

Tips:

  • To check the consistency, make sure that the cooked filling can be shaped roughly into a ball
  • Be gentle and use your wrist to roll out the paratha as otherwise, the filling spills out.
  • Use water as you go to mix the dough, instead of pouring a lot at once.

Beetroot paratha served with greek yogurt

Raagi Rotti

Millet and Onions flat bread with Green Chilli Pepper chutney
[Raah gee (as in geese) Rohttea ] Kannada

Though Millet in the form of Raagi Mudde [mooh dey] (millet dumpling) is more popular being a staple peasant food in many parts of Karnataka, this dish exemplifies how something as ordinary as Millet metamorphoses into mouth-watering nostalgia.
The first thought that comes to my mind when I crave for my mom’s food is that of Raagi rotti. It is close to my heart and one of my mom’s specialties.  They do not make it any softer than hers even in restaurants, given the insane amounts of oil they use. I am not kidding here!
Rotti is a dish you have to get your hands dirty for and won’t regret any bit of it. Call it her experience or a seasoned hand, my mom always patted the rotti directly on the hot tawa (griddle) with her hand. I couldn’t do it that way, ever.
Having been an electrical student myself, I do believe in following the path of least resistance. Well, at least once in a while.
So, I experimented with aluminium foils. Aluminium foils get way too hot and ended up with the Rotti sticking to the foil itself instead of the Tava.
Tried alternating between a pair of hot and cold Tawas, found it too tedious and lost my patience.
Tried with thick plastic sheets from wheat flour bags and got tired of the endless waits to stock up on them. Yes, I have done this many times and I would make Rottis only when a new bag of whole wheat flour would be bought. I would cut it up into four equal parts and store it for those many future uses. Sometimes, you have to find out of the b(ox)ag ways to satisfy your cravings!
After all those unpleasant attempts (plastic sheets did yield very well though), wax paper has been a wonderful discovery in my Rotti making. It obviously does not stick, does not even pick up heat, lets go of the Rotti on the Tawa easily and is economical too, each sheet makes 5-6 rottis before disposal.
Oops! Did I spill the beans? Now that I have given you my little secret to easy Rotti making, shake your tail feathers a bit and squish those hands. They are about to get dirty!

{Raagi Rotti & Carrot shavings with Green Chilli Peppers chutney on the side}

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups Raagi (Millet) flour
  • 1/2 cup grated Coconut
  • 1/2 cup shredded Carrot
  • 1/2 large Onion finely chopped (more if you like it that way)
  • 2 stems Curry leaves minced
  • 1-2 tsp Jeera / Cumin seeds
  • Salt
  • Warm water
  • Oil for pan roasting
  • Wax paper (or butter sheet, yes the same ones used in baking)
  • Wide lid with handle (I prefer a see through glass lid with some depth)
  • Tawa/Griddle (I Prefer Cast iron)
How it’s done:
Millet does not contain gluten like wheat and hence lacks the elasticity or suppleness of the wheat flour dough. For this reason, coconut and shredded carrot lend in the required moisture and softness.
In a large mixing bowl, sprinkling a little warm water at a time, mix all the ingredients for a smooth dough and keep aside. Warm water helps to keep it moist and soft as well.
Wash your hands clean and have a bowl of clear water handy before starting.
Make a ball of dough, a little smaller than your fist and with your four fingers and the middle of the palm, pat it flat on the wax sheet starting from left to the right clockwise to make a circular rotti. Dip your fingers in that bowl of water as needed, to pat with ease. Do not make it too watery alright. Finish with a small hole in the center to help it cook evenly.
Place a tawa/ griddle on medium-high heat. When the tawa is hot (move your hand over the tawa to check), carefully holding the two opposite ends of the wax sheet, turn it face down on the tawa. Now, pressing down light with your left hand, strip out the sheet with your right hand. It’s easier done than it sounds. Trust me.
Drizzle oil in the center and all around the rotti and cover it with the wide lid.
Flip it over after 2-3 mins and cover again. Flip it over again in about 3-4 mins and keep aside. To check if done, look for light brownish black spots. When you hear a sizzling noise (as the water vapors fall on the tawa), you have left it too long. Repeat for the remaining dough.
Serve hot with any chutney of your choice and enjoy! If you fancy some Ghee on it, go ahead, indulge..

{Left to Right : Raagi flour mixed with all ingredients;  Mixed into a dough; Patted on the wax sheet}

{On the griddle; Covered with a see through lid}

{Green Chilli Peppers Chutney}
Tips and Warnings:
  • Do not cook Rotti on both sides for too long, lest you’ll end up with damaged teeth trying hard to tear it. The secret to a soft Rotti lies in cooking only one side well. The other side gets cooked in the steam under the covered lid.
  • Do not try to make this Rotti sans oil, it might give you a stomach ache.
  • When it becomes cold, it gets a bit chewy; So, always serve hot.

Nutrilicious Aloo Paratha

Potato stuffed flat bread

Like I mentioned earlier that my two and a half year old is a picky eater, I try to make sure that whatever goes south of her mouth is packed with nutrition. This is a nutritious version of the common Aloo Paratha adapted to the tiny taste buds of toddlers.

Things you’ll need:
For the filling:
  • 1 Potato (medium) – Boiled, skinned and mashed
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried pudina (mint) leaves (optional)
  • 1 wedge Laughing cow Regular cheese
For the dough:
  • 100% Whole wheat flour (I prefer the stone ground variety)
  • Salt
  • Whole Milk
    To serve with:
    • Whole yogurt
    • Home made Ghee

    How it’s done:

    • For the dough, mix the whole wheat flour with salt to taste. Add whole milk little at a time and mix until all the dry flour is incorporated into and forms a soft but not too wet and sticky dough. Knead for a couple of mins, cover and set aside for 30 mins (as this results in a soft pliable  and moist dough).
    • Mix the mashed boiled potato with salt to taste, crushed black pepper and a hint of powdered dried pudina leaves.
    • Finally add in the happy cow cheese wedge (usually one wedge for a medium sized potato) and mix the filling together.
    • Take a dough ball the size of a medium lemon and shape it into a bowl. Scoop a spoon of filling into this bowl.
    • Bring all the sides of the dough bowl to the center and press shut and flatten on the palm of your hand.
    • Dust this dough patty with dry flour on both sides and roll out flat slowly with a roller, making sure to not let the filling out.
    • Now on a heated griddle or ‘tava’, roast this paratha until brown on both the sides. Note that I do not use oil for cooking the paratha.
    • Smear both sides with home made ghee and serve with whole yogurt on the side, when the paratha has cooled enough for the toddler hands.

    Note:

    Make sure not to overdo the dried pudina as toddler taste buds are still developing and instantly reject strong tastes and/or smells.