protein-based food helps you lose weight
Many South Asians grow up with parathas as part of their cuisine. The indulgent, steaming, hot butter-dripping Indian bread is eaten at any time of the day – breakfast, lunch or dinner.
How can we make our favourite parathas healthier?
Parathas are a flatbread that originated in India and Pakistan. Traditionally, it is made with wholewheat flour, spices and pan-fried with ghee or cooking oil.
Variations have been developed over time including parathas stuffed with potatoes, paneer, vegetables and even cheese.
Some South Asians often eat it with a curry dish whilst others prefer to roll up the paratha and eat it with yoghurt or tea.
Each household has its own unique way of making parathas, however, each variation requires the dough to be rolled out and brushed with ghee or oil.
It is then folded, brushed again and folded once more. It is then rolled into a square and cooked on a griddle pan.
Parathas are known to be a symbol of significance in South Asian households. Its social connection suggests that when a paratha is made it is an important occasion or an important guest is visiting.
This is because parathas are more costly and require additional effort to prepare.
If you cook parathas with lots of fat or high-calorie ghee or create stuffings with unhealthy ingredients, parathas are naturally going to be an unhealthy dish.
However, healthy parathas do exist! The way you cook it and the ingredients selected make a difference.
Here are 10 ways to make parathas healthier at home whilst maintaining its famous tastiness.
Less Ghee or Oil
Use a smaller amount of ghee or oil if you want to make parathas healthier as they will be lower in calories.
Cook the paratha without ghee on both sides and then brush them with half to one tablespoon of ghee on each side.
It will still be well cooked and crispy, only without the excess grease from the ghee.
It’s a well-known fact that the average person can eat paratha after paratha continuously. They’re just too delicious.
But in order to keep our food healthy, it is advisable to have a healthier serving.
Portion control should not be about limiting or restricting yourself. Simply eating enough for your body to feel full is adequate.
By doing so, you are making parathas healthier.
Add High-Protein Stuffing
In South Asian cuisine, dishes such as paneer, tofu, daal (lentils) and eggs are common. Have you thought about including them in your paratha’s stuffing?
Placing any of these in the centre of your rolled dough enhances the protein levels, instantly making parathas healthier.
According to Healthline, protein-based food helps you lose weight and belly fat while increasing muscle mass and strength.
Adding high-protein ingredients to your paratha will lower your blood pressure and help fight diabetes.
These include eggs, dairy, meat, fish and poultry.
Vegetable proteins don’t provide adequate amounts of every essential amino acid but can be combined with other plant sources to make a complete protein.
Beans, legumes, grains, soy, nuts and seeds are examples of high-protein plant foods.
Vegetable Stuffing vs Potato Stuffing
Yes, potatoes are (starchy) vegetables but they are a healthy, complex carbohydrate.
Therefore, potato parathas aren’t necessarily bad for your health as long as it’s eaten in moderation.
To avoid higher glucose levels, Healthline recommends controlling portion sizes.
This can be difficult for some, however, a great alternative is to use other vegetables as the stuffing.
Aubergines, courgettes and cauliflower are great examples. They can be easily mashed to make the perfect texture.
While kneading your flour of choice, try adding milk to the mixture.
Whilst water is more commonly used, milk creates a soft consistency and makes the paratha stay fresh for longer. This makes them great for leftovers.
Milk provides calcium and vitamin D which is great for improving bone and teeth health.
Try using half milk and half water, later progressing to full milk if you like the outcome.
The easiest way to make parathas healthier is by choosing the best flour to use.
Wholewheat flour or multigrain flour are both good options to make your parathas healthier. Wholewheat flour has natural fibre in it whereas, in white flour, the fibre is removed during processing.
Fibre is integral to a healthy, balanced diet as it prevents constipation, helps control blood sugar and helps ward off heart disease.
It’s important to get as many nutrients as possible every day therefore wholewheat or multi-grain flour is the healthiest option as they are rich in vitamins B1, B3 and B5.
This flour even contains more iron, calcium and protein than white flour.
Salt is a common seasoning in parathas. It’s used in cuisines all over the world to add taste.
However, it is advised to consume in moderation as too much is not healthy.
According to the NHS, a diet “high in salt can cause raised blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke”.
In order to reduce your daily content, try swapping out salt for other seasoning and spices such as garam masala, chilli powder, cumin or pepper.
While its good to reduce the amount of oil you use, why not try a healthier oil entirely?
Olive oil is a fantastic way to make parathas healthier without compromising the taste.
Fresh and flavourful, olive oil has numerous health benefits too.
It helps maintain good cholesterol levels, is a brilliant source of vitamin E and is good for indigestion, amongst other things.
Spread a little olive oil on top of your cooked paratha and you’re good to go.
Use Better Butter
Many South Asians prefer to use butter to spread on their paratha instead of oil.
Butter offers a more satisfying flavour, however, it is high in fat and it is mostly saturated. This can be a contributing factor in heart disease.
Try alternatives like ‘Clover Light’ or ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light’. They offer the same buttery taste but they have far less saturated fat.
A simple trick to make your tasty parathas slightly healthier.
Adding lentils to your dough mixture is very beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
Lentils contain fibre which decreases blood cholesterol levels and plaque forming on the walls of arteries. This helps reduce to risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.
Incorporating more lentils into your weekly diet is very healthy and within a paratha, it is a tasty way.
Incorporating aubergines into your usual paratha recipe is a healthy way to add vegetable stuffing.
If you follow this recipe, it is guaranteed that children and adults alike will be asking for seconds.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- ½ cup finely chopped aubergine
- ¼ cup finely chopped onions
- Olive oil (or oil of your choice)
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Chilli powder
- 1½ cups of wholewheat flour
- Make your dough by adding small amounts of water to the flour. Knead until firm.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When you hear the seeds crackle, add the chopped aubergine and cook for a few minutes.
- Mix in the onion, turmeric, chilli powder and a pinch of salt.
Divide the dough into equal-sized balls and roll them into small circles. Place the aubergine mixture in the centre.
- Fold the sides inwards and seal well to create a square package.
- Roll again into a large circle, adding dry flour as and when required.
- Roast on a hot tava (flat frying pan) and add one teaspoon of oil when cooking. Once golden, flip over and spread another teaspoon of oil.
- Once both sides are golden, serve hot and enjoy.
Altering the classic paratha in different ways can have great outcomes.
Try these 10 options to see which best works for you! You can maintain the delicious flavours of parathas whilst making them healthier at the same time.