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Paratha Flatbread

with Moringa Leaf Maharashtra, India

“Our farming practice is simple: farming in harmony with Nature”

Gaytri Bhatia Land Steward of Vrindavan Farm

About Gaytri

After working for the American EPA in Environmental Analysis and being confronted with the problems of the food system, Gaytri was drawn to work on the land and is now a steward of the lands of the Vrindavan Farm.

The land of the Vrindavan Farm was once an orchard of a single fruit; the mango. Slowly, with the help of stewards like Gaytri, the land is returning to a multi-layered food forest yielding a diverse range of fruits, herbs, spices, seasonal vetetables and still homes a host of indigenous trees and shrubs. This agroforestry system provides a great diversity of nutritional ingredients to local communities, produced naturally without intensive industrial manipulation.

Producing food in itself is not a challenge for India; over 70% of the population works in agriculture (the agrarian populous of Europe is <5% and <2% for the US). However, it is the method of producing food that has gone array: governments that sold out to large multi-nationals, chemical companies that control seed production, pesticides killing naturally occurring pollinators and fertilizers that are leaving the soil parched and deprived of organisms to create its own biomass.

These changes were introduced to producers under the lure of improved technologies and the promise of higher yields. However, without knowledge of the impact of their long-term use, producers now find themselves in an endless financial rut trying to produce greater outputs to meet the ever increasing input costs, which once never existed as their inputs of cow manure and native seeds were free. Gaytri sees that now people in India are feeding their families food that is not only making them sick, but also leading to the poor health of the ecosystem.

The natural farming practices at Vrindavan Farm, carried out by hand - the hands of indigenous people of the community, work to nurture the soil and earth, feeding the human body and spirit.

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The recipe

Paratha is a flatbread that originated in the north of India, the land of wheat. Moringa is the leaf of the Moringa Oliefera tree originating in the eastern Himalayan foothills.

Makes approx 10 parathas (12cm)

  • Garnish

    • 1 cup Moringa leaves, chopped finely (although not of the same nutritional content, fenugreek leaves can be substituted)
    • 1 medium white onion, diced finely
    • 1 or 2 long green chilies, diced finely (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp mango ginger, peeled and chopped finely (ginger can be substituted)
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    • 1 tsp salt
  • Dough

    • 2 cups atta flour (easily found in Indian food stores, however whole wheat flour can also be substituted)
    • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
    • 1 Tbsp ghee (oil can be substituted)
    • Water as required to form smooth, firm dough

Procedure

    • 1) Mix all of the finely chopped garnish ingredients together. Set aside.
    • 2) Pour the flour onto a large plate. Make a well in the center and add the garnish (above), salt, oil (or ghee) and a little water. Start to bring the mixture together, adding water as required. Knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and soft. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
    • 3) To shape the paratha, pinch golf ball sized balls from the dough. Flatten the balls and dust with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll them into approximately 12cm rounds.
    • 4) On a hot tava (skillet), place the rolled paratha. When the base has darkened slightly, flip the paratha and spread some ghee on the partially cooked side and flip again to continue cooking. Spread ghee on the other side too.
    • 5) Cook both sides until both sides have crisp brown spots. Gaytri explains that a very well made paratha will puff up, but this may take a lot of practice.


      Serve paratha immediately whilst still hot, with butter, or yoghurt. Spicey mango pickle is also a traditional accompaniment

Nutrition value

Moringa leaf is high in vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, all of them essential for a good health. It is also a good source of antioxidants and essential amino acids.

Dr. Marta Guasch-Ferré Dietician and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology

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