Hogweed and Potato Parathas
Flatbreads such as these, stuffed with spiced potatoes and other vegetables, are a classic breakfast across northern India. Spinach, mustard greens or fenugreek leaves are often used, but here we use young hogweed shoots. Their soft velvety texture and aromatic flavour combine well with the subtle spicing of the stuffing.
Serve the breads as they do in India, with glasses of hot spiced tea or fruit juice, and a dish of yoghurt (vegans can use any of the many substitutes available) flavoured with wild garlic or coriander, if you like.
150g common hogweed shoots
- 250g strong wholemeal bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- Vegetable or sunflower oil (about 5 tablespoons)
- 250g floury potatoes such as Maris Piper or King Edwards
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 green chilli, very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon amchoor or chaat masala (see note), or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- ½ ground turmeric
- Greek yoghurt, or vegan substitute, into which you have stirred some
crushed wild garlic leaves or chopped fresh coriander
- Wash the hogweed shoots and trim away and discard any thick, fibrous stems. Leave them to drain in a colander while you prepare the bread dough.
- Put the flour in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add around 200ml water and mix to a soft but not sticky dough (depending on your flour, you may need to add a little more water.) Bring the dough together and knead for 2 minutes, until smooth and pliable. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the stuffing. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Put them in a pan and cover with cold water. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and set the pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly for around 15 minutes until the potatoes are completely tender. (If you have a steamer basket, you could steam the hogweed shoots until tender over the potatoes pan – they should take about 10 minutes to become nicely tender). Drain the potatoes well, then mash until smooth – any lumps will make it difficult to roll the breads.
- If you don’t have a steamer basket, bring a small pan of water to the boil. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and then add the hogweed shoots. Cook until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water and drain again. Squeeze out any excess moisture, then chop the leaves very finely.
- Add the chopped hogweed to the pan of potatoes with the ginger, chilli, garam masala, amchoor (or chaat masala), chilli powder and turmeric. Mix well, then taste for seasoning. You may wish to add more salt, or a little more amchoor for sharpness. Mix well again, the divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and roll the portions into balls.
- Next, divide the dough into 8 and roll each piece into a smooth ball. Put all except one ball back into the bowl and cover with the damp tea towel again.
- Lightly dust the work surface and a rolling pin and roll the ball of dough into a round of roughly 12cm. Put a portion of stuffing in the centre, then bring the edges of the dough up over the dough, pleating as you work your way around the circle until the stuffing is entirely wrapped in dough. Pinch together the edges of the dough to seal, then gently pat the ball of dough into a neat circle.
- Flip the ball of dough over so the joined edges are downwards, then dust the top of the ball with flour and roll very lightly, applying no pressure except for the weight of the rolling pin, to flatten the ball out to a circle of roughly 20cm diameter. Be gentle and patient, rotating the dough a quarter turn frequently to keep the shape even (but do not flip it over). Keep the work surface and the rolling pin well floured. If any of the filling peeps through the dough, dust the area with flour.
- Prepare the rest of the dough and filling in this way, remembering to keep the balls of dough covered until you need them.
- Set a large well-seasoned or non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat to get hot. Place a small bowl of oil and a pastry brush next to the stove.
- When the pan is nice and hot (if the heat is too low the breads will cook too slowly and become tough), gently lift one of the rolled rounds of dough into the pan. Let it cook for 1–2 minutes, until it starts to bubble and puff up. Flip the bread over, and press all over with a spatula, to ensure a good contact with the pan. It will continue to puff up, and after 1 minute, brush the top of the bread lightly but evenly with oil, and flip it again. Let it cook until it is patched golden brown here and there and cooked all over, then brush the upper side with oil and flip the bread over. Cook until the underside is patched golden brown and cooked, then remove the bread to a plate.
- Cook the other breads in the same way, stacking them as you go(this helps keep them warm and soft). Serve while fresh and warm, with yogurt.
Amchoor is a powdered spice made from dried unripe mangoes. It has a refreshingly sour flavour. You should be able to find it in your supermarket along with the other spices in this recipe, but if not you can replace it with chaat masala (a blend containing amchoor) or, failing that, a tablespoon of lemon juice.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK