Arbi Paratha is a flaky, crispy, delicious flatbread made with the starchy colocasia root, chickpea flour and sorghum flour. It makes a tasty, gluten-free snack or meal.
One vegetable I always pick up during my monthly trip to the Indian grocery store is arbi, or colocasia.
This rather unpretty root vegetable can be hard to figure out for someone who's never cooked or eaten it before. If you haven't, think of it as the low-profile but high-impact cousin of the wonderful potato -- now there's someone we all know and love.
Arbi has a whiter, denser flesh than potato's, its skin is pretty much inedible, and its flavor is bland with addictively earthy tones.
But in Indian cuisine, you can do with an arbi pretty much what you can do with a potato-- you can make a delicious subzi out of it, shallow-fry it into crispy deliciousness with a few spices, dunk it in a sauce, or, like I did this time, turn it into a flaky, wholesome paratha, a vegan, gluten-free flatbread, that your tummy and your tastebuds will thank you for.
The paratha is gluten-free, partly because I wanted to try out some singoda flour, or water chestnut flour, that I also picked during my last trip to the Indian store. I had never eaten singoda flour before but it is commonly used in north India during religious fasts-- in fact, all foods eaten in India during religious fasts tend to be gluten-free (I am not sure about the rationale behind that).
I also added some sorghum or jowar flour to the recipe, and some besan for a little added crispiness. If you don't mind the gluten, you could also just make these with whole-wheat flour. Sub part or all of the gluten-free flour with wheat and follow the rest of the recipe.
The technique I used for this flatbread is an offbeat one-- instead of making a stuffing, like one would with Aloo Paratha, I actually mixed the colocasia, boiled and mashed, and some spices and herbs into the flour. This also works better because gluten-free breads can be hard to roll out. If you make this paratha, try patting it out like another great Indian bread that often tends to be gluten free-- Bhakri.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy, all!
More Indian paratha recipes
Arbi Paratha, a Gluten-Free Flatbread
- 10 medium arbi corms
- 1 cup singoda or water chestnut flour
- ½ cup besan (chickpea or garbanzo bean flour)
- 2-3 cups jowar or sorghum flour
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup mint (or cilantro, or a mix of both, chopped)
- 1 teaspoon amchur (dry mango powder)
- Salt to taste
- Cook the arbi corms in boiling water until a knife inserted through the middle goes through cleanly and without any resistance. I usually cook the arbi with some water in a pressure cooker, which is the easiest way to get them done, but you can submerge them in water, bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and let them simmer about 10-15 minutes until they are done.
- Peel the arbi, chop roughly, and place in a food processor with half a cup of water along with the powdered spices, salt and the mint. Process until you have a really smooth paste. If you don't have a food processor, try mashing the arbi with a potato masher as smooth as possible, and then mix in the water and the spices.
- Mix the water chestnut and chickpea flours with the arbi paste and add the jowar a little at a time until you have a firm dough that does not stick to your fingers. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Once your dough is ready, immediately form 12 balls and roll them in your palms to make them really smooth.
- Now liberally flour the rolling surface and your fingers and pat out the parathas using the your fingers. You want to spin the paratha slightly each time your fingers make contact with the dough. It may sound complicated but trust me, you will get it. If the paratha feels like it's sticking, flour again. If you do end up with a tear, patch it, flour over it, and continue patting it out. This paratha should be no more than five inches in diameter.
- Heat a flat griddle over medium-high heat. Place the paratha on the griddle and flip over when bubbles start to form and golden-brown spots appear. Spray on some oil or and when the underside has golden-brown spots, flip over once more and cook for a few more seconds.
- Serve hot with some vegan raita, chutney, or spicy Indian pickles.