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1. Delhi sanitation workers call off strike 2. A red carpet welcome and Gujarati culture and cuisine await Xi during his six-hour visit to the state.3. Remittances to Kerala are growing ever since Keralites started migrating to the Gulf region 4. A giant meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs along with evergreen flowering plants 66 million years ago gave rise to deciduous plants 5. Ten million people in the US survive on less than $2 a day
Fifteen suspects detained, main accused identified in the Bulandshahr gangrape case.

Paratha garam garam

Though the dictionary description of ‘paratha’ – a flat unleavened bread, resembling a small naan bread, that is fried on a griddle – is factually correct, it is hopelessly inadequate in conveying the might and magic of this palate-conqueror.

A paratha is not only a treat for taste buds but even watching it being prepared is a visual delight. A disc of dough, puffy with stuffing, slowly turning golden, with brown polka splotches and froth of tiny ghee bubbles, it looks more like a work of art. The wisps of burning ghee and the aroma of spices arouse the olfactory senses. And when a hot paratha is served with a blob of melting butter on it, the dictionary definition seems to be nothing less than sacrilege to it.

Despite its humble beginning as a breakfast snack, in Peshawar, now in Pakistan, in remote antiquity,paratha has come to acquire a pan-Indian, or more precisely, an Indian sub-continental appeal. Be it the ‘parota’ of Kerala or ‘poran poli’ in Maharashtra, mughlai paratha in Kolkata, thepla in Gujarat, orbaida paratha in Hyderabad, paratha has been adopted, given a local flavour, and assimilated in its cuisine in every part of the country.

Naturally, every city and town in India has its parathawala, which is nothing less than a revered place of pilgrimage attracting devotees in hordes. Some of these parathawalas like the ones in Old Delhi, have come to acquire a prominent place in the culinary heritage of their city, though now on wane. Still, others, like those in Belanganj in Agra, have grown beyond their local confines and found international admirers, courtesy Lonely Planet.

On an aside, apart from uniting the nation culinarily, paratha also functions as a social leveler in its own way: at the famed parathawala in every city, you can find gourmets in luxury cars competing with a bicyclewala for ek-plate paratha. Be it a hole-in-the-wall eatery in cities, a road-side dhaba on highway, or a plush upscale restaurant, paratha reigns over the menu everywhere, much to the discomfiture of all those for who deride this culinary delight as calorific catastrophe.

And, for the sake of your information, paratha is not about just aloo, gobhi or mooli. In fact, no other dish submits itself so meekly to the whims of its connoisseurs: From its plebian version, which is a simple chapatti fried on a griddle, washed down with hot chai, to the exoticas stuffed with almond and cashew paste, paratha allows its lovers to perform every experiment they wish. Onion, karela (bitter gourd), carrot, paneer, meshed peas, khoya, mushroom, minced meat, bathua : everything edible goes as paratha stuffing.

Most of the famed parathawalas have a specialty of their own to offer, in addition to the routine platter. Rambabu Paratha Bhandar in Belanganj in Agra is well known for its mammoth of a paratha stuffed withmethi, matar and khoya (fenugreek, peas and milk fudge), served with jhol ( watery yogurt), ghotwan ( meshed) sabzi and pickle of fried vegetables. Sink your teeth in to it and you will be transported to an all together plane bordering on the divine.

Then, there are unique parathas like the Jalebi Paratha, a creation of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow, the halwa paratha of Meerut. The most quaint of such variations was ( Yes, ‘was’ because it has become extinct, now) sau parat ka paratha of Bade Miyan of Fatehpur Sikri made on order.

Of course, paratha is best savoured with curd or lassi. But when in a hurry, you can smear it with salt, simply role it in to a pipe and gobble it with one hand while steering your car with the other.

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