Following some very testing mealtimes chez BB, I am beyond excited to report that this weekend I have successfully smuggled a total of five different vegetables into LBB without his noticing (carrots, cabbage, spinach, leeks and courgettes since you asked. He noticed the peas and sweetcorn, however, although admittedly I did just shove these on his plate and let him get on with it. Unsurprisingly rather a lot made their way onto the floor). How was this amazing subterfuge achieved? Through the medium of potatoes mainly (fishcakes and bubble and squeak), but also through the wonder of vegetable parathas, or zoo bread as they are now known in our house, after the place where they were first sampled (Mr. BB’s approach to toddler snacks is nothing if not ‘outside the box’).
For those of you still awake, and I appreciate that this may be a somewhat limited audience, weaning and then food battles with small people being of interest only to those currently experiencing them, and probably reason enough to pay over all that money to the NCT to have someone else who will listen to you moan for literally months about what your child will and will not eat (generally cake and everything else), I can confirm that vegetable parathas are also palatable to those of a more mature disposition, though you may want to spice it up a little (or a lot).
I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recipes, which I mixed and matched and added to (the vegetable bit – I used carrots and courgettes but you could use a variety of vegetables I imagine, provided they are grated/cut up small enough to cook quickly), but they are relatively easy to make once you get the hang of all the rolling, and they don’t require any specialist ingredients, though next time I may try incorporating chickpea flour or actual squashed chickpeas, since they are lacking in protein; unless there’s protein in wholemeal flour. Is there? Hmmm.
Recipes taken from Foolprof Indian Cookery by Madhur Jaffrey. Instructions on how to cook them taken from Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast by Anjum Anand.
Makes 8 small sized paratha
Ingredients:300ml chapatti flour (or 150ml plain flour and 150g wholemeal flour sifted together) ¾ tsp salt 1tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar 1 carrot, grated ½-1 courgette, grated 2tbsp olive or rapeseed or groundnut oil 175-250ml water Freshly ground black pepper 50-75g melted butter or ghee, which is clarified butter (I didn’t measure so this is somewhat of a guesstimate)
Combine the flour, salt and cumin seeds in a large bowl or free-standing mixer and drizzle the oil over the top.
Rub the oil and seasonings into the flour with your fingers. Add the water a little at a time, until you begin to get a shaggy dough. You may not need all the water, I used about 200ml I think.
When the dough looks shaggy, add the grated vegetables and continue mixing until they are well incorporated.
Either knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes or so, or use the dough hook of a a free-standing mixer to do the heavy lifting for you (my preferred option). Keep kneading until you get a smooth dough, then cover with clingfilm/shower cap and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll into balls.Heat a heavy frying or griddle pan. Taking one ball at a time, roll it out into a 15cm/6” circle on a floured surface. You need quite a bit of flour to stop it sticking.
Brush with melted butter (or ghee if you have it) and then, starting with the edge closest to you, roll the circle away from you into a tight log shape. Using your palms roll the log longer and thinner, until it is about 30cm/12” long.
Next, coil the log in on itself (like a snail).
Then, pat it down into a thick disc. Roll it out again to a circle 15-175cm/6-7” in diameter.
Put the paratha on the, by now, very hot, pan and let it cook for 20-30 seconds. It’s ready when light brown spots appear on the underside. Turn it over and brush with butter or ghee (or even oil) and then flip it over and repeat on the other side.
Next, using the edge of a spoon or a knife, make small slashed all over to help it crisp up. Turn it over and do the same on the other side. By now the bread should be done, with lovely golden brown spots on each side. If not, cook for a little longer until it is, being careful not to burn it.
Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, or freeze them. Once defrosted you can start from the heating the pan stage.
Serve with yogurt dip or baked beans if you are LBB.