April 7, 2008

Kerala porottas ( Kerala Griddle fried breads)



Kerala porotta is a griddle-fried bread which is widely available in all regions of Kerala. It is made using a dough which basically has flour, eggs and ghee. A few recipes for the porotta with slight variations are available across the web. I dont know which recipe is the exact one, but this one gave me a very pliable dough which was easy to work with. The method of shaping the porottas from this recipes was also something new to me. Eventhough the preparation is a little bit time-consuming,you will definitely be pleased with the end result. My college cafeteria also had the 'porotta-beef' special for which all we had to do is to say "Achayaa, oru porotta-beef porattay! (Brother, we'll have a plate of porotta-beef combo!)." I never knew the work that went into making it.

When I got married, I got to hear a good story about my husband JM, his brother GM and porottas. Moms try to reduce the frequencies of their kids eating porottas since they do not have much nutritional value because they are mostly flour and fat . My mom-in-law is a good cook and she used to "try" to cultivate healthy food habits on her sons, but these two had insatiable appetites. One day my brother-in-law GM snuck into the local restaurant to have some porotta-beef and lo-and-behold, there he was, his elder brother JM (my husband), already enjoying some!! Eventhough alarmed to see each other there, they just nodded at each other and continued as if nothing happened. Because of the unsaid pledge between the brothers to not rat each other out, they didnt say anything at home. But the restaurant owners were aquaintances of my in-laws and they came to know about this in the passing. I dont know what happened after that, but I think from that day onwards, my mom-in-law was more liberal with her food choices for her sons, so that they wouldnt act desperate as if they get nothing at home!! Anyways, I looove this story, particularly the part of nodding at each other and gobbling the food as if nothing happened, eventhough their hearts probably were in their throats, and they were thinking up of ways to defend themselves in the event of a stab in the back!! So now everytime somebody talks about porottas, this story comes to my mind. Once in a while, when I am in a mood for cooking, I make these and reminisce about the good days when all we had to do was to go to a restaurant, for these yummy porottas.

Recipe (Makes 8):

All-purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Granulated sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Plain yoghurt - 1/4 cup
Milk - 2 tbsp
Ghee (Clarified butter) - 2 tsp
Egg - 1

All-purpose flour for dusting
Melted ghee - 1/4 cup

Method:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor or using a spoon.

Add yoghurt, milk, ghee and egg, process to make a smooth dough and continue to process for 2 minutes, to knead. (You can also knead by hand).

Lightly oil hands, and shape the dough into a ball.

Place in a bowl, cover with a slightly damp towel and let rest for 4-5 hours.

Heat a dry non-stick griddle or heavy skillet for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Knead the rested dough by hand for 2 minutes.

Divide into 8 portions and shape each portion into a ball.

Place in a bowl, cover and set aside, away from heat.

Dust the work surface lightly with flour.

Working with one ball at a time, flatten between the palms to make a disc of about 2".

Roll it out on the floured surface to a 6"-7" circle. Brush generously with melted ghee.

Shape into a cigar by rolling it tightly.(Refer to the tips).

Wind the 'cigar' into a coil, placing end under dough to secure.

Roll it out again into a 6"-7" circle, lifting and dusting surface if necessary.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Set aside, but do not allow them to come into contact.

Place the porottas on the heated griddle and cook until brown spots appear, about 2 minutes.

Turn and cook the other side, pressing down with spatula for 1 minute.

Brush the top side with a bit of ghee.

Turn again and brush the second side with ghee.

Turn once more and cook, pressing down with spatula, until browned and crisp, about 1-2 minutes.

Transfer to a foil to keep warm.

Repeat with the remaining dough balls and ghee.

While still warm, hold a stack of 4 porottas vertically between your hands and crush sideways so that layers appear seperated. (They would not be evenly separated).

Source: Complete book of Indian Cooking - 350 recipes from the regions of India, by Suneeta Vaswani.

Tips:
  1. I have come across another method for shaping the porottas. It involves pleating the rolled out dough after brushing generously with ghee to form a pleated-fan-like arrangement and then winding it into a coil. Lets call that the pleated method and the one given in the above recipe as the cigar method. For the sake of experimenting, I shaped half of my dough using the pleated method and half using the cigar method. Then wound them into coils and followed the rest of the recipe. I didnt find any significant difference between the two methods in terms of flakiness/layers, but the cigar one was easier to shape. In the cigar method, you can see the coils more distinct than the other one.
  2. In the cigar method, once you roll the dough to form a cigar shape, you get a short cylinder. I stretched the cigar lengthwise by rolling the cylinder on the work surface with my palms, starting at the centre and then gently sliding your palms towards the edges. This way, you end up with a longer cylinder and hence more coils in your finished porotta. Brush this elongated dough roll with ghee and then shape into a coil so that the layers will come apart easier.
  3. The final step of separating the coils is not necessary since it does not add to the taste in anyway.
  4. They taste the best served with Indian curries with gravy.

I am sending this to the Roti mela hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons.

5 comments:

Chitra Nair said...

i tried it out soon after when you posted this recipie..
Porottas .... using your recipie was really a cool method to giv a try.

i opted the coiling method instead of that fan.'m happy to say that it was the most successful cooking after trying your buffalo chicken

JZ @ Tasty treats said...

Thanks chitra.

sonia said...

Yday when I made ur Rogan gosht curry,I thought I will try out ur poratta-Always a fav choice when eating out in Kerala and used to stock frozen ones here until we all became health conscious:-)
Yday a friend called while I was kneeding the dough-She was cuirious where I got teh recipe-told her the source and she was amazed by ur blog-
Coming back to the point-Poratta-was a lot of work-But end result was great-It was not anywhere like proffessional ones-but with lesser oil/ghee ,it didn't make me feel guilty. J and kids esp Jo enjoyed it a lot.

JZ @ Tasty treats said...

thanks a lot sonia, i really appreciate ur feedback..u r one of my best commentors and you make my day with ur lovely compliments!!

Srivalli said...

Abt the cigar type and the pleated type, both are relatively the same in terms of the flaky layers. Actually once you brush ghee over the rolled out parotta, dust some maida over it and then pleat..the doughs got to be pliable..so you stretch it and then roll out again. This time you got to use oil and not flour and roll out in one direction only...

this way my parottas are always flaky..its always worked out well for me..maybe you can try dusting the layers..but you know what,,your parottas look really yummy and must've tasted great!..so flakes or not, I love this..:)..thanks for the lovely entry!