Healthy eating, in my experience, starts off as a conscious effort. There is often a moment of lapse where a craving just needs to be satisfied, and you either give in or chastize yourself. Diabetes makes it even harder, whether or not you indulge in that particular whim. But after a while, the goodness of nourishing food takes over and becomes ingrained in you. I can no longer sip at sugary carbonated drinks; I prefer plain water and in places where hygiene is suspect I would prefer something like coconut water, a natural drink I once couldn't tolerate when a child. Nor can I eat cakes the way I used to; they seem to sit so heavy on the stomach! My tastes have changed so subtly over the years but so definitely, and I'm only now aware of this. This change is for the good.
A year or so ago, we'd been tired and had run late, doing some necessary shopping at the supermarket before reaching home, and the prospect of cooking a meal right from scratch was just too hard to take. You know those moments: the husband is particularly irritable maybe after a long drive or the parents are drooping with exhaustion and sit nearby patiently waiting for you to finish your grocery shopping or the kids are whining and just need to vent their frustration by doing something they shouldn't (like opening a packet of biscuits off the supermarket aisle when your back is turned and now you have to pay for it).
Well, I don't exactly remember what our moment was, but we quibbled a bit, especially me about taking the easy route of either eating at a restaurant or trying ready-to-eats. After much dilly-dallying I finally agreed to the latter, much against my better judgment and with my mind already calculating the possible glycemic index and fat percentage and possible impact on blood glucose levels (my mind's become automatic in these areas now). The choice was onion parathas, I forget which brand, not that it matters. Just shut your eyes so that you won't see the clear labeling of 'partially hydrogenated oils' on the ingredients label, slide them from their package and cook them on the tawa a bit on both sides. Your lunch is ready. I must say though, the smell was heavenly and the parathas were crisp and golden with all that unhealthy fat (that I refused to see).
I've tried to replicate the same flavor on my own. I'd tried a different version of onion paratha using chopped onions, green chillis, cheese and herbs and stuffing the dough with it (I'll post this later), but I wanted to make a purely onion paratha that smelled of lovely roasted onions.
My first attempt was to puree the onions and use this puree to make the dough, in the place of water. The smell of the dough was heavenly but somehow the aroma disappeared after cooking the paratha, as if the heat had tamed the fiery tear-inducing character of the onion and I just couldn't get the proper taste. So this time I did it another way.
I peeled the dried outer skin off of three large onions. I cut them in half, then sliced them into very very thin slivers longitudinally. I heated a tablespoon of oil in a flat-bottomed pan, and on slow heat I carefully roasted the onion slivers. This takes time, about 15 to 20 minutes. The onions shrivel slowly and then turn a golden color. With more time, the color deepens to a red with the edges taking on a burnt hue. The onions are ready now. Let this cool.
I put about four-fifths of the onion slivers in the blender and ground it to a puree, adding a bit of water. In a shallow vessel, I put in some whole wheat flour, along with small quanitities of wheat germ, wheat bran, oat bran, psyllium husk powder and methi seed powder ( my usual fortifying additives ). The rest of the onion slivers was mixed with the wheat flour along with chopped green chillis and a tablespoon of coriander leaves. Salt was added to the flour. I mixed all this together and then poured in the onion puree, kneading the dough.
As I mentioned in this blog before, I don't really measure out the flour. I think Indian breads are forgiving in this way. I just add an approximate amount of flour and knead it with water, then adjust the consistency accordingly.
I continued to knead until the dough was no longer sticky and was elastic enough to handle and let it rest for about an hour or so.
I then divided up the dough to form lemon-sized balls, rolled them out and then cooked them on the tawa on both sides with some oil greasing on the pan. I served these hot with pickle and yoghurt on the side. The taste of roasted onions was strong enough to satisfy me. And I loved the sinuous pattern the onion slivers left on the paratha. This was much better.