My excuses: I drafted this post when we were still living in Paris and never got around to posting it. I haven't done much blogging since moving to Bangkok since we've been so busy with exploring the city, but I promise that lots of spicy stuff is coming soon! In the meanwhile, enjoy...kothu paratha!
When I first moved to Paris almost six years ago, I was surprised and delighted to find that there is a true Indian quarter in the city! Not just Indian, but Tamil!!! Given that the cities of Pondicherry and Karaikal in Tamil Nadu were once French comptoirs, it's natural that a good number of the Indians living in France come from these areas. Add to this a large community of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka and it's just total Tamil-land! Thus if you visit the neighborhood along Rue Faubourg-Saint-Denis between Gare du Nord and La Chappelle metro stations (and beyond), you'll see saree shops, barbers and beauty salons, grocery stories, travel agencies, music shops, a Ganesh temple...all with signs in Tamil! Walls are rife with posters announcing the latest bharat natyam performance or Sri Lankan Tamil political rally while the aroma of fresh jasmine, masala dosa and Madras coffee fill the air. Whenever I would go to this neighborhood (quite regularly to buy groceries or eat at Saravana Bhavan), I would totally feel like I was back in Chennai!
The very first time that I went to the area, I ate at Krishna Bhavan, a vegetarian restaurant on Rue Cail. It was here that I first discovered the intriguing and delicious dish known as kothu paratha. I'm not sure of the exact origins of this dish having never seen or heard of it in India myself, but some people seem to think that it comes from the temple town or Tiruchirapalli (Trichi) in Tamil Nadu (where, incidentally, my parents and I lived when I was a baby), while others claim that it originates in Sri Lanka. Regardless, it's delicious and extremely easy to make...consisting of torn-up, shredded pieces of fresh or frozen parathas sauteed with onion, ginger, garlic, spices and then scrambled with some eggs. You can add ground beef or other types of meat, but this is of course a veggie version. Nothing could be easier and more delicious as a dish for an Indian breakfast or brunch!
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1/2 tablespoon mustard or cumin seeds (see note)
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon (or more!) chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sambar powder or tandoori masala (see note)
Salt, to taste
4 frozen (or fresh) parathas, torn or chopped into pieces
Chopped fresh coriander, for garnish
Note: For a more authentic, South Indian flavor, opt for mustard seeds and sambar powder. As I was out of both, I went for cumin seeds and tandoori masala, which gave the dish a more North Indian accent. Both are great...choose whatever you fancy! This dish is actually very forgiving, so you can really use whatever spices you like.
1. Heat the oil in a skillet or frying plan. When it is warm, add the mustard or cumin seeds. They will splatter and begin to release their wonderful aromas.
2. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Saute until the onions are translucent and then add the chopped tomato.
3. When the tomato is cooked, stir in all of the spices and salt to taste. Saute for a couple of minutes more.
4. Add the torn/cut paratha pieces and cook until they are golden, about 5 minutes.
5. Crack the two eggs directly into the skillet and scramble along with the parathas. Once you get a semi-dry scramble, remove from heat.
6. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve warm. Ideally, this should be accompanied by a raita. When I last made it, I had it with a little fruit salad on the side instead!