The Malabar paratha is South India’s poster bread. Beautifully coiled, and flecked with charred golden spots, it manages to be flaky, crispy, soft, and fluffy all at once: perfect for peeling away layer by layer and dunking into a rich, creamy sauce. Make sure to leave some time to make this bread: it needs 1 hour at the kitchen counter, 1 hour 20 minutes of resting time, and a final 30 minutes to cook the bread.
Makes 10 (enough for 5 people)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons salt
¾ cup warm water
canola oil, to grease
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl, mix together, then add the melted butter and mix with your hands until the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Little by little, add the warm water (I use half boiled water, half cold tap water) and mix until you have a rather sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes until soft. Then leave in an oiled bowl covered by plastic wrap in a warm spot for an hour.
After an hour, separate the dough into 10 balls, place on a baking pan, and cover with a clean tea towel or more plastic wrap, then leave to rest for another 20 minutes.
Prepare a rolling station by lightly oiling a chapati board or chopping board and your rolling pin. Melt the rest of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then take a piece of dough, roll it into a ball, and flatten it between your palms. Roll out to a circle around 7 inches in diameter, brush the surface with butter, then roll it up into a cigar. Shape the cigar into a tight coil (which looks like a snail shell) and pop back in the pan. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Next, take one of the coiled pieces, flatten between your palms, and roll out to 7 inches. Place it on a piece of wax paper and roll out the rest, separating each layer with more wax paper.
Place a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, take a paratha and brush both sides with melted butter. Cook for around 2½ minutes, flipping halfway through. Paint with butter one last time, then shuffle onto a plate and repeat with the rest. To keep them warm, put them into a nest of foil and keep them enclosed until serving.