The moment I saw those unimaginably small, unhealthy surroundings, I thought not to take anything there, as I had to really take care of myself (I was 6 months pregnant then). There was huge crowd waiting outside the small place. The walls were made with mud & there were just sheets on top instead of a concrete roof. After a waiting time of 20mins, we were asked to enter the place, where food was served. There was small stairs with 4 steps that was quite steep & the width was very less. I got scared to even get down 1 step there. There were hardly around 3-4 tables that could accommodate not more than 10-12 people at a time. No menu card, there was a big-fat Punjabi guy noting down the menu even before you enter inside. I said, I would take 1 lassi & 1 paneer paratha, my team members managed with the rest.
I started feeling, I was sitting in the kitchen itself. The smoke from the flame(the food was being cooked by burning wood, instead of LPG or electric stoves) was directly entering the place where we sat, no ventilation, no fan (forget about AC). It was suffocating there, I started feeling sick, but the aroma of food & extremely good comments about the place gave us some strength. We were served the lassi first (salt lassi) in a big steel glass that can easily hold around 1.5 litres of lassi!!, I thought I cant even finish quarter of this..let alone having it full. I begged one of my colleagues to share the Lassi and she immediately obliged. I think even she had same feelings as mine ;)
Then came a medium sized paneer paratha topped with atleast 50gms of butter & aromatic dal makhni. First bite of it & I forgot all the pain I had suffered so far. I even became a big fan of all things there, the dhaba, paratha, makhni & the lassi. That was the first time ever I had such impressive Punjabi food. I couldnot believe that I finished 3 different parathas, small portion of jeera rice, 1 big glass lassi & 1 cup curd!. I could feel my kiddo inside enjoying what I was eating, best experience. Needless to mention, after that visit I have been to that small, so-called dirty place so many times to enjoy nice food.
The next best taste I got for paratha was during my visit to Haryana & Delhi. I made a point to eat in one of the Haryana dhaba’s. Later in the day, I visited one of my friend’s house, where his mom prepared aloo paratha for me. It tasted heavenly; my father who doesn’t even try eating north-indian food, said.., it was better than what he tasted in Haryana dhaba. I asked his mom for the recipe & started trying to create magic with my fingers on paratha. I know, I cannot even go 10% of what she served, but I’m constantly trying to make it perfect. Here is one such small effort.
2 cups atta/wheat flour
3 tbsp curd
Salt according to taste
1 tsp hot oil (optional)
3-4 medium sized potatoes boiled
Handful of frozen/fresh green peas
1 tsp amchur powder
¼ tsp ginger grated
1 tsp red chilli powder
A pinch of ajwain/omkalu
Salt according to taste
1 tbsp garam masala
Wheat flour for dusting
1tsp butter for each paratha.
- Mix all the ingredients mentioned (for dough alone) & prepare soft dough by adding enough water.
- Knead it well so that the dough becomes soft.
- Smear oil to the dough & keep it aside for 30mins.
- Meanwhile, mash the potatoes thoroughly.
- Add all the ingredients to the mashed potatoes, mix them well & prepare medium sized lemon balls.
- Prepare medium lemon sized balls with the dough prepared.
- Take one portion of the dough, roll it with a rolling pin to a diameter of 4-5inches.
- Place the stuffing inside & cover it by folding from all directions, ensure it is properly sealed inside.
- Dust some dry wheat flour & leave it aside for 1-2minutes.
- Roll it again carefully to a 7-8inch diameter.
- Heat a griddle, ensure the griddle is very hot & then cook the parathas on high flame both sides by adding ghee/butter.
- Serve it hot with curd, pickle or any side dish of your choice.
Thanks a lot for passing the awards Archy. It really means a lot.