SAFDURJUNG ENCLAVE, NEW DELHI, INDIA.
Bengali street food: The Mughlai Paratha.
Hugely popular in Bengal, the golden textured, crisp and flaky Mughlai Paratha is a robust and delectable member of the Indian Paratha Family – a flatbread recipe linked to India’s Vedic age and at times eaten with fillings of vegetables and meat over the course of its existence. Lack of specific historical mention and absence of a befitting description has led a few experts to view the dish less of an authentic Mughlai delicacy and more of Bengali street food originating in the city of Calcutta.
Some have even suggested the name to be a promotional gimmick started by enterprising eateries to popularize the heavy filler and later introduced in different parts of the country by migrating Bengali settlers.
Its not that the Mughals did not eat Parathas. The delicacy featured explicitly in their diet. The recipe and cooking procedure just might not have been as exotic as the presently served flaky and golden textured stuffed Paratha with its egg and spiced minced meat fill, that has even got non Bengali eateries, heating up the pan.
What experts say.
Conventional menus list the delicacy under Mughlai food with both eateries and restaurants advertising the dish by the same name – which in modern times has come to encompass many non-Mughlai items as well. Some experts, however, look at it, as Bengali Street Food.
What is it defined as.
The Mughlai Paratha is a type of Indian Paratha, eaten both as a snack and a meal. During major celebrations like the Durgotsava, the Mughlai Paratha is a very frequent pick of the menu.
What goes into it.
Flour. Water. Salt. Milk. Eggs. Minced meat. Spices. Green/Red Chili Pepper. Onions. Clarified Butter/cooking oil.
Mughlai Parathas can be both vegetarian and non vegetarian. While beef and mutton are the two commonly used meat types, eateries in India, widely prefer and use mutton.
Vegetarian versions come with a variety of vegetable fillings – ranging from red beans, carrots to a creative selection to simple onions. The mutton based non vegetarian version is more favoured by eateries owing to their greater demand.
But many on request will omit the meat out of the mixture preparing the dish with only egg or just the complimentary chopped vegetables.
How is it prepared.
Preparing the Mughali Paratha varies like its ingredients. In most cases, the flour is kneaded with salt, water, milk (optional),clarified butter/oil and left to soften.
Once the dough is ready, it is flattened into a thin disc shape and spread over a heated frying pan. A mixture of whipped eggs, minced meat,spices and vegetables prepared separately is placed in the centre of the rolled out dough in measured proportions.
The sides are then folded one by one from four corners until the entire mixture is covered and the dish has acquired a rectangular shape. Finally, both sides are fried in turn with a gentle coating of oil or clarified butter to thoroughly cook the mixture inside and lend the Mughlai Paratha its flaky golden texture.
Local eateries immerse the dough sandwich in heated oil for frying. Or alternatively first dry heat the Paratha on a pan then deep fry in oil.
Where can you find it.
The dish is widely available with Bengali eateries serving Mughlai and a Bengali household recipe.
Dining Tip: The Mughali Paratha can be a heavy weight with its meat and egg fillings and at times excessive oil. The best time of the day to try out the delicacy is during late mornings or afternoons.