The love child of Gujarati Thepla and Aloo Paratha.
If you’re looking for a flatbread with big, bold flavours, you’ve come to the right place. The traditional Thepla of my childhood are unstuffed and served spread with butter or ghee. Paired with Sukha Bateta nu Shaak (dry potato and cashew curry), it’s family comfort food at its best.
My memories of eating Thepla made by the expert hands of my mum are ones I still treasure today. They would be smoking hot off the tawa, rolled up like a cigar and dripping with golden butter – and first thing in the morning too. Thepla are the ultimate breakfast bread and waking up to the smell of them toasting on a hot pan outweigh the feeling of hitting snooze on Sunday morning. Trust me.
Packed with the smoky, slightly-bitter caramel notes of fresh fenugreek leaves, these turmeric-hued discs of fluffy bread are one of the most iconic recipes of Gujarat. Traditional Thepla are as I said, eaten with potato curry, masala chai, pickles and chutneys.
Here, I’ve combined the beauty of fluffy potatoes and fenugreek leaf-studded bread to create Aloo Stuffed Thepla. Yeah, it’s a little unconventional incorporating the potato element into the bread itself, but since when was sticking to the rules any fun?
So WTF is fenugreek? They look like coriander but bury your nose in a bunch of fresh fenugreek and you’ll instantly know they are in a league of their own. Not dissimilar to the deep burnt sugar flavours of Marmite, fresh fenugreek leaves are one of those ingredients you’ll either love or hate. They have a slightly bitter caramel taste and I find that fans of dark chocolate tend to love fenugreek too.
It’s important to know that fresh fenugreek leaves and fenugreek seeds aren’t interchangeable. The seeds have a deeply nutty aroma and the flavour is bitter in the same way great coffee and cacao beans are bitter. They lend amazing complexity to Indian recipes in very different ways so remember not to substitute one for the other. It would be like subbing coriander seeds for fresh coriander. Not a great idea.
Kasuri or Kasoori methi are dried fenugreek leaves and indeed, can be used in place of fresh fenugreek. The flavour is much more concentrated in the same way any dried ingredient is stronger in flavour compared to the fresh counterpart. Added to rich, makhani sauces, it’s an absolute game changer. To release the full aromas, simply rub it between your palms and add towards the end of cooking or to finish a dish.
There’s not a type of bread I don’t love but recently I’ve developed a huge passion for breads with a punch of flavour rather than bread being secondary to another main dish. In this recipe, the Aloo Stuffed Thepla are the star of their very own show, perhaps accompanied by a selection of chutneys, achaars, plain yoghurt and chai.
Aloo Stuffed Thepla
For the filling:
1kg floury potatoes such as Maris Piper, peeled, boiled and mashed until really smooth
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
2-3 chillies, chopped
1 ½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder) or 2 tbsp lemon juice
80g frozen peas, defrosted and pulsed in a food processor until coarsely crushed
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped coriander, optional
For the dough:
550g chapatti flour
2 tsp turmeric
5 tbsp chopped fresh fenugreek leaves (if you’re using kasoori methi, use just under 1 tbsp)
1 ½ tsp salt
100ml sunflower oil
320ml hot water
125g melted butter or ghee
1. First, make the filling. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and add the cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle slightly, then add in the ginger, garlic and chillies. Cook for a minute. Next, add in the peas, potatoes, garam masala, amchur, salt and coriander if using. Mix well and cook until heated through. Set aside to cool.
2. To make the dough, place the chapatti flour in a large bowl or tray. Mix in the salt, turmeric and chopped fenugreek. Make a well in the middle and add the oil. Pour in the water and stir until cool enough to handle. Go in with your hands and knead for 4-5 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
3. Divide the dough into golf ball-sized rounds and roll between your palms until smooth.
4. Do the same for the filling but take slightly more than the size of the dough.
5. Roll the dough to about 3-4” in diameter and place the potato ball on top. Using your thumbs and forefingers, pinch the dough closed around the filling, starting in the middle and working your way outwards. The filling wrapped in dough should be fully enclosed with no gaps or holes.
6. Flatten the ball using the palm of your hand. Dust with flour on both sides and flip over. You will need to roll the smooth side.
7. Begin rolling the dough, turning gently as you do. Ensure it is even all over and dust with more flour if necessary. Try to aim for 1/2cm in thickness.
8. Cook in a dry, non-stick frying pan, turning once and spreading the dry-cooked side with some butter or ghee. Flip and repeat. The underside should be golden in a few moments, flip again and cook on the next side until golden.
9. Repeat until you’ve used up all of the dough and filling.
So, as if by magic, you’re now a paratha extraordinaire and well on your way to rustling up some bread to accompany your favourite Indian dishes. Enjoy making these Stuffed Aloo Thepla and once you get the hang of rolling, remember to have fun creating your own fillings and flavours.
These are in-freakin’-sane with Gor Keri (sweet mango pickle with fennel seeds). You can buy it ready made or make your own. I’ll share my recipe soon.