Aloo Parathas

Aloo Parathas

Indian food has intimidated me more than any other cuisine. Only recently have I begun to experiment with it, but I’m still completely overwhelmed with the vast amount of things I don’t know about: there are ingredients I’ve never heard of, approximately one hundred bajillion types of lentils (I counted), endless variations on dishes between regions of India, culinary traditions that vary from family to family, and a number of different languages used to describe all these things. I could spend my entire life studying Indian food and always be learning something new.

The good news is I don’t have to know everything to start making dinner. Thank god.

When it comes to cooking, there’s no better place for me to learn than in the kitchen with someone who knows what’s what. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to learn a bit about Indian cooking at the home of my husband’s boss, Nars. Nars and his family are from India, and they graciously invited us over for dinner, allowing us to hang out in the kitchen and learn how to make the dishes we would be eating. It was an invaluable experience for me, and today I want to share with you some of what I learned that night.

Flatbreads are common in India, with numerous variations. There’s roti, puri, parathas, chapatti, naan, bhakri, bhatoora, papadum… I’m sure the list goes on. Today I’m going to show you how to make parathas, both plain and stuffed with spiced potatoes. Parathas are my favorite — they’re flavorful, easy to make, easy to customize, and they go with a lot of different main dishes.

The first thing you’ll need is the right kind of flour. It’s often referred to “duram atta.” It’s a combination of stone-ground wheat and regular flour that’s perfect for roti, chapatti, and parathas. The brand I use is Golden Temple. Once you have the flour, you’re set. Here’s the recipe for the dough:

Paratha Dough
Makes 8 parathas

1 Cup Golden Temple Flour (duram atta)
1/3 — 1/2 Cup Water
1/2 tsp Salt
2-3 tsp Oil

Aloo Paratha DoughCombine all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Depending on the humidity in your area and how compacted your flour is, you’ll need anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water. Add 1/3 cup first, adding more water if needed. Your goal is to achieve a soft, elastic dough after about 5 minutes of kneading. It shouldn’t be sticky, but smooth. I don’t sift my flour, so my “1 cup” tends to be a heavy one, and I use 1/2 cup of water to get the dough consistency I like the best. Keep in mind that a softer dough will yield more tender bread, but may be harder to control. After kneading, the dough should look like the image above.

Aloo Paratha DoughBreak the dough up into 8 equal pieces, rolling into balls. Set in a small, oiled bowl and cover with some oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough balls rest for as long as you can – 30 minutes up to a few hours. This allows the gluten to relax. If you’re making aloo parathas, begin making the potato mixture now.

Aloo Stuffing
For 8 Parathas

2 Medium Potatoes
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Red Chili Flakes
5 Sprigs of Cilantro, chopped

Aloo Paratha, potato ballsPeel, chop and boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain well. Use a ricer or food mill to mash potatoes. This ensures there are no lumps in your potatoes that could break the dough while stuffing the parathas. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Form 8 balls the same size (or smaller) as your dough balls, cover, and set aside.

Now for the fun part! It’s time to stuff and roll out the dough. Before you start, heat your pan up and get your workspace ready. Choose a pan that heats quickly and evenly, has a non-stick surface, a wide, flat bottom and low sides. It ideal pan for this is usually seasoned iron. The traditional pan is called a tawa, but a crepe pan, pancake pan, or cast-iron skillet works just as well. For your workspace, you’ll need a bowl full of flour, a cutting board or other flat surface for rolling out the dough, and a small rolling pin called a Belan. (Or do what I did and use a clean, label-less beer bottle.)

Heat your pan over medium heat with a very light coating of oil.

For Aloo Parathas
Aloo Paratha
Dip one of the dough balls in the flour to coat it.

Aloo Paratha
Flatten it out into a disc.

Aloo Paratha
Roll out the dough a little, so it’s large enough to cover the potato ball. Wrap a potato ball with the dough, gathering the edges together.

Aloo Paratha
Pinch the edges together to seal, flattening it into a disc again.

Aloo Paratha
Dip it in the flour again, coating all sides.

Aloo Paratha
Roll out the disc evenly into a circle, roughly six inches in diameter. The dough should be thin enough so you can see the spices through it.

Aloo Paratha
Place the paratha on your heated pan. You’ll see the dough begin to change color (it gets slightly yellow and dry-looking), and then, with any luck, it’ll puff up! Once it puffs up, check the bottom–if you see scattered brown dots, flip the paratha over. Oil the cooked side of the paratha lightly. Cook the second side until it looks like the first, flip it again, and oil it. Your paratha should be finished cooking in 1-2 minutes, and should not look raw when it’s done. Keep warm in a tortilla heater, or in a low oven on a covered plate.

Aloo Parathas

Do you want to make plain parathas? I got you covered. There are two ways I was taught to fold the parathas to make sure they’re tender and flakey. Follow the link below for step-by-step photos of both techniques!

Easy Triangle Parathas
Triangle Paratha
Dip your dough ball in flour and roll out to a 6″ disc. Coat one side with oil.

Triangle Paratha
Fold it in half and coat it in oil again.

Triangle Paratha
Fold the oiled sides together again to make a triangle. Coat it in flour.

Triangle Paratha
Roll out the triangle to about 6″ and follow the cooking instructions in the main recipe above. To ensure your paratha stays tender, you must “break” it when it comes off the pan. Simply crumple it a bit, like your crumpling a piece of paper to throw away. I know people who do this with their bare hands, but I recommend using a towel to prevent burning yourself. Don’t “break” stuffed parathas.

A More Difficult Spirial Paratha
Spiral Paratha
Dip your dough ball in flour and roll out to a 6″ disc. Coat one side with oil.

Spiral Paratha
Fold the dough like a fan, forming a long strip of folded dough.

Spiral Paratha
Roll the strip of folded dough into a spiral shape.

Spiral Paratha
Tuck the end underneath and press to hold it there.

Spiral Paratha
Dip the spiral into flour and roll it out into a 6″ circle.

Follow the cooking instructions in the main recipe above. To ensure your paratha stays tender, you must “break” it when it comes off the pan. Simply crumple it a bit, like your crumpling a piece of paper to throw away. I know people who do this with their bare hands, but I recommend using a towel to prevent burning yourself. Don’t “break” stuffed parathas.

You can roll out the next paratha while the last one is cooking, just keep glancing over at the stove to see if it has puffed yet. Rolling the dough out in one of these two ways creates layers in the dough that make for a tender, flakey finished product. Every time I make parathas they get better, so don’t be distressed if they don’t come out right the first couple of times. They take practice. Keep at it, and they’ll keep improving, I promise. They are best eaten immediately, but you can refrigerate them and re-heat them in your pan the same way you cooked them. Good luck and have fun!


  1. kathryn

    I love cooking Indian food, but agree it’s definitely a challenge. Out of all the foods I cook, it’s the one I’m least likely to experiment with. I’ve found Madhur Jaffrey’s books an invaluable guide to Indian cooking. She gives clear descriptions of different techniques and her recipes just work.

    Excellent paratha instructions – I’ve never made them but you’ve given me the confidence to try them.

  2. Jen

    Oh, wonderful! I’ve only had confidence to make naan in the past, and half the time it doesn’t come out right. Thank you for this recipe, I will definitely be trying it out soon.

  3. Daria

    These look amazing! I’m definately gonna try them! Might cook it for my mother :)

    I was wondering though, do you think they gonna work with gluten-free wheat?? Would be great if they could…

  4. Courtney

    Wow–this post is great–thanks so much for sharing it! I love Indian food, but, like you, I have been intimidated by it…it always sounds so difficult! I *still* sounds difficult, quiet honestly, but it now seems much more doable after your post!


  5. Kim Miller

    Thank you so much for posting this! I just attended an Sikh ceremony this weekend and I’ve become obsessed with finding quality recipes for [vegan] Indian food. Can’t wait to try this, and it couldn’t've landed in my lap at a better time…

  6. Kat


    I’ll have to seek out this flour – you’re right, once you have that, everything else you need is pretty much in the pantry already! Can’t wait :)

  7. Robyn M.

    Oh how wonderful those parathas look! I love making parathas, but I’ve never had a good clue for how to do the “flaky & tender” half of the equation–thank you! I’m trying these tonight with our scheduled butternut vindhaloo.

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  10. Bri

    Awesome! I too have felt intimidated by Indian food, and am considering asking a woman who sells aloo paratha and samosas at our local farmers market, if she’ll give me a lesson or two. Your photos are so descriptive. I wondered before, if the paratha were two discs of dough with potato in the middle, but now you’ve enlightened me. I’ll have to make these. Thanks so much for demystifying the process.

  11. Maninas

    Thanks for the very detailed instructions! Just what I need!

    I too adore Indian food, and I too have been intimidated with it a little, until a kind Indian friend gave me – ‘a curry lesson’! :) She is such a wonderful and instinctive cook, and this fantastic experience made me really relaxed about cooking Indian. Another big breakthrough was reading some excellent Indian food blogs. They opened up a whole new world for me, literally! :)

  12. sooz

    I just love your blog. I would love it even more if you’d come to my apartment and teach me how to cook, but I *suppose* I can survive with the blog…

  13. Jeanne

    OMG YUMMMM!!!! Thanks for the recipe! Now I can make it by hand instead of always buying the frozen kind (which are still so good :p)

  14. Honor

    I made these yesterday for dinner. They were lovely and delicious and ended up just like the photos here! I used 1/2 C. of water, also and added some fennel seeds. Thanks so much!!

  15. Krista

    Now be honest, how many parathas did you have to cook before you got one that ballooned perfectly like that? I’m lucky if I get one per batch!

  16. blondie

    Amazing! I just want to eat the screen. Thankyou for posting the step by step. I’d love to see what else you have been making in the realm of Indian cooking.

  17. Carolann

    Indian food is challenging. There are always so many things I want to make, but have no idea where to get the ingredients. Thanks so much for the pictured steps on these! I can’t wait to try them!

  18. theo

    Hello, thank you so much for your website and this recipe. I just had a question about the formatting. The text comes up with all kinds of funny-looking symbols on my computer like this (not sure if will look the same to you when I paste it in but I’ll try):”The first thing you’ll need is the right kind of flour. It’s often referred to “duram atta.” It’s a combination of stone-ground wheat and regular flour that’s perfect…”
    Does anyone else have trouble with the text and formatting turning into symbols instead of apostrophes or other formatting marks? Is there a way to fix this so that it shows up normal on my computer?

  19. Raddish

    When i view this page using internet explorer i see the “funny-looking symbols”, but using Firefox it’s fine.

  20. Lolo

    Theo –

    The strange characters are from “smart” characters in Word – I use FireFox and Safari, so I wasn’t aware of them until recently. They should all be fixed now, and I know how to avoid them in the future. Let me know if you see any more!

  21. Kayla

    I made these for an indian themed potluck this weekend and they were amazing! I wasn’t able to find atta flour, but I sifted together a combination of all purpose and whole wheat, which worked perfectly. The only thing I would do differently next time is make a double batch. Seriously.

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  24. deeba / passionate baker

    You’ve mastered the technique PERFECTLY!! Did you know that parathas can be stuffed with grated cawliflower, cottage cheese, dryish cooked dal…The list is endless! Try plain spiral paratha with zeera aloo & smoked cottage cheese/paneer curry! Tastes wonderful!

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  26. dd

    Thank u for your instruction.I made the aloo paratha tonight for dinner. They were lovely and delicious and ended up just like the photos here! and all of these puffed so well that it was out of my imagination..thank u again and I cant even wait to make the spiral parathas ..hope this is called kulcha(may i’m wrong)

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