This is called masale ka paratha in my family, which means “flat-bread stuffed with spices”. This recipe is most unique to my family and was my late grandmother’s very ‘special’. I have always loved it and it still is one of my favourite comfort foods.
Today, I am not sharing the recipe – that’s easy for anyone who has ever made paratha or flatbread before. Knead in some of the spices from our Messy Mango pickle in a wholemeal wheat dough, roll out paratha or flatbreads and pan fry with a little oil. Enjoy with more pickle on top or rolled into a sandwich with some hummus or yoghurt in between. However what I am sharing today is the story of this recipe, why it is so close to my heart and why this recipe is a sum-all of the very grain that makes me.
I remember as a child, can’t remember how old I was, as my grandmother popped over the 3rd paratha on my plate, I asked her how she came up with this recipe. She answered, quite nonchalantly really, that she developed this recipe when my dad was a young boy. By the end of the month, all my granddad’s salary was spent, they couldn’t afford vegetables or anything fresh. So my grandma would scoop into our large stock of seasonal pickles that she would convert quite cheaply but deliciously into a hearty meal for the whole family.
I did feel quite saddened by the story then, trying to picture the family struggling to make ends meet. I have to say every time since then, I have had cooked these parathas (and that is a LOT of times), this story has come back to me. But over time, I am not saddened by it, infact I feel so proud of the enterprising nature of my grandma. A housewife, a full time mum who had married and moved straight from her fathers house to my grand-dad’s at the age of 17, so beautifully managed four children and a tight family income to provide homemade, delicious meals for everyone.
This story will always be a part of me, of who I am, my family’s karmic-DNA, like I call it. Amongst all the happy memories of food from my childhood, this not-so-happy one is extra special. I think this respect for food is what makes me today. So even though I am mildly annoyed with myself everytime I eat my children’s left-overs or scrape the last bits of sauce from the pan, I try to remind myself that I am just built that way – I cannot and should not fight. Infact I am so proud of it.
I know it is this karmic-DNA that has led me to the path of continuing our family legacy of sharing meals, building stories and basically having fun in the kitchen.
PS – Please don’t feel sad for my family after reading this post. That is not the aim. It is infact still a very happy story, of an enterprising family, as most families were and continue to be with limited resources.