Once upon a time, there was a Paratha…

Anda Paratha Nashta photo © Copyright by Khadeeja Yasser

My cup of tea is ready, it awaits the first sip. We’re out of bread this morning and I’m awaiting the planned Paratha Anda breakfast so the traditional and lovely chai thos makhan protocol has broken this morning. It’s Friday, the weather’s nice, at least indoors, and I have set our pedestal fan on the ‘wind’ mode.

Paratha Anda means bread and egg, but that meaning is only literal.

Paratha is traditional bread made with bread dough similar to or the same as chapatti aata (flatbread dough) prepared on a traditional tawa (a thick disk of metal) with ghee (clarified butter) or butter (this can be tricky since butter burns faster than anything). I have known ‘some’ to use oil but that is so tasteless and rubbish.

Pakistanis are powered by paratha. I am one of them and I love it. I simply don’t eat one every day, some people do. I have a one-ish paratha every three to four weeks, but the past ten days have seen a higher frequency of these lovely home-made breads, for reasons beyond my control.

It’s been served at lunch and I have carefully had a little of these lovely parathas, some with various kinds of cheese, some with white-radish, some with aalo methi (potato and fenugreek curry) in them. The amount of ghee used was light, or that I was served ones made in olive-oil, regardless, they ‘were’ and then they ‘were not’. I may have intruded upon one a many parathas designated ‘for-kids-only!’

My son who is 10 (ten), though he claims he’s 11 (eleven) is the best paratha saikney wala. This term saikney is giving me a hard time translating it to English as I am unable to find a word for it, so let’s use this in English too. Saikna means cooking a chapatti or crisping a paratha on a tawa or flat skillet, that provides the saik (consistent heat).

So he’s a champion paratha saikney wala (expert guy at crisping a paratha on a skillet) and can prepare a paratha to perfection. We know it’s a tad risky for a kid so he’s supervised, but some talents are innate and they blossom.

Our paratha dough recipe is simple, one part of chapatti aata, one part of maida, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of butter ghee (clarified butter) made into a soft dough using lukewarm water. The technique involves letting the dough sit for some time so it rests, then small balls of dough are rolled into flatbread, followed by crisping them on the skillet. paratha recipes are many and vary by taste and culture. If I hear the word paratha, I’m in – regardless of how it’s made.

Anda in Urdu simply means egg. When preceded by paratha, the meaning changes – it implies an omelette, a Pakistani omelette at that. This involves cutting up some tomatoes, green chillies, onions, fresh coriander finely and whisking them in one or two eggs (per portion) along with a pinch of red chili powder and salt. Red-chillies taste better if we use crushed red chillies over powdered, they give that much more kick. Green chillies can be either too hot, or too placid and balancing the amount can be tricky. So try your luck with them, but don’t skip adding the greens. Oh yes,… and do fry the omelette over a medium heat using a teaspoon of butter ghee (clarified butter), about 30 seconds on each side or a bit more, but don’t overcook it.

Paratha Anda is served on a plate with the paratha at the bottom and the anda (omelette) on top. Both are best when super hot and right out of the pan. If you ask me, an early morning post-dawn Paratha Anda breakfast can suffice your hunger for pretty much the entire day. I can vouch for this, I’ve tried it.

As for the calorie intake or ‘Oh, this will make me fat’ – well yeah – it would if you consume parathas like a Panda. If you’re prudent in your paratha consumption and simply have this lovely meal every couple of weeks, you should do just fine. After all, life’s too short to not indulge in some of the blessings of Allah, moderately. WINK!

If you’ve read this far, and have done so at the wrong time of your day, you will be at the brink of dying of paratha cravings. I apologize for that but like you I’ve been writing this post for the past hour and like you crave a scrumptious Paratha Anda nashta (breakfast).

If you’re Pakistani, stop that indulgent paratha consumption for the sake of your heart, and your health. If you’re non-Pakistani and a lover of parathas, please do the same. Try a routine of having these every two to three weeks, if not three to four. One or one-ish paratha at a time. If you’ve never had Paratha Anda – oh my – please get in touch with a Pakistani friend or family and demand a Paratha Anda breakfast. You have a right, exercise that. HAHA.

Some might despise having parathas, mostly because of the meal being unhealthy or just too ‘oily’ or ‘calorie-laden’ – mute them – great parathas made traditionally are nothing but healthy when prepared with care. Overdo anything and it’s going to bite at you – at least that’s how I see it.

Once upon a time, there was a paratha … and then, I ate it. الحَمْد لله‎