Monday, April 25, 2011

A Taste of Bangladesh

My suitcase space may be limited, but lucky for me learning how to cook Bengali food doesn’t take up any space, and thanks to Sabrina and her cook I can now add this skill to the long list of things I’m taking with me. The menu included parata and luchi (flatbreads), coconut curry with prawns, ginger beef, and alu dum (curried potatoes). We did well and it was all delicious!

The recipes were done freehand – Sabrina’s cook is such an expert that she doesn’t have to measure anything. Therefore, the recipe I provide below cannot be guaranteed until I’ve duplicated the process at home, but feel free to give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Parata and luchi are flatbreads. Bengali cuisine is traditionally enjoyed without utensils – using your hands. Certain foods lend themselves well to being scooped up with bread. As if that wasn’t a good enough reason, these pita-like breads are scrummy (a quick thank to Ann for introducing that word into my vocabulary). 


3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil
1 cup water

  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar.
  2. Gradually add oil. Mix ingredients using your hands.
  3. Add water a little bit at a time.
  4. Knead dough by flattening with your fist, folding, then kneading. Repeat until dough is firm.
  5. Form dough into balls that are 2 inches in diameter for parata and 1 inch for luchi.
  6. Roll out the dough to “tortilla thickness” using a rolling pin.
  7. Rub a thin layer of oil onto the surface.
  8. Fold the dough into thirds, and then fold the sides into the middle to overlap. You end up with a square. Folding the dough in this manner will create layers within the parata.
  9. Let the square sit while you prepare the remaining dough.
  10. Using the rolling pin roll the dough to about fajita tortilla size for paratas and street taco size for luchi.
  11. This is where the process diverges.
For Parata
  1. Place one piece of dough into heated frying pan. 
  2. Drizzle oil around the edges.
  3. Using a spatula, press and turn the parata – removing the air bubbles.
  4. Flip and fry the other side until lightly brown. 
  5. Repeat. 
For Luchi
  1. Fill a wok with enough oil to submerge the luchi.
  2. Gently ease the luchi into the oil.
  3. Fry both sides until golden brown.
  4. The dough may form a big bubble. Don’t worry, that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.

These breads are simple to make and delicious with curries, dips, and I imagine the parata would make a great little flatbread sandwich too!

As for the rest of the recipes, I’d be happy to share if there’s interest. But posting will have to wait, those near capacity suitcases I was talking about in the beginning, they still need to be packed. 

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