Are Paratha And Parotta The Same? You Are About To Find Out!
Image Credit: Be it the crumbly laccha paratha or the flaky and soft parotta, we just need a gravy to enjoy it.

The one thing I get most excited about at weddings or buffet dining, in general, apart from appetizers, is the bread section. An assortment of breads, ranging from garlic naan to laccha paratha, is served to us in a wooden cane basket. While tandoori roti and tawa roti are the most basic ones, it is these naans and parathas that I relish the most. Now, by paratha, we do not mean the stuffed aloo or onion flatbreads. Instead, we are referring to the laccha paratha community which is generally eaten with curries. This kind of paratha is quite popular in the northern region of the country. 

Quick Glimpse of the Laccha Paratha 

Hailing from the state of Punjab, the laccha paratha commonly features as part of the regional cuisine. The origins of this flatbread can be traced back to the 12th century, when a ring-like paratha was born in the Indian sub-continent. The word paratha can be understood in terms of parat and atta because the dough is made of wheat and the utensil is called parat.

The flaky and crunchy laccha paratha is shaped like a ring, where the dough is rolled into layers, which rest on each other and are folded by adding ghee simultaneously and frying it. Largely, there two techniques to make it: either in a tandoor or on a tawa. You can pair it with anything, from a thick non-vegetarian curry like butter chicken to a simple dal makhani, there are options galore. Interestingly, this laccha paratha has often been confused with its close cousin from South India, the parotta. 

Encounter With The Parotta 

My first tryst with the parotta happened two years back at an unconventional place. My college friends and I decided to meet after work, over dinner. We chose a restaurant/café kind of place which had good music and great ambience. Pizza was on our mind so we went ahead and ordered one, along with butter chicken croquettes and a few drinks. Suddenly, my friend pointed out that they have Chettinad Chicken with Malabar Parotta. Apprehensive about whether it was the right place to try such an authentic dish, ultimately we gave in. 

Now, by the looks of it, it looked absolutely delish. I dipped the flaky parotta in the succulent and masaledaar chicken at once and honestly, it was love at first bite. Although I was quite aware of the authentic preparation yet the dish perfectly suited our palate, maybe because I was reminded of my favourite laccha paratha. 

Paratha Or Parotta 

The use of maida (all-purpose flour) as opposed to atta (wheat) in the preparation of the dough was the major point of distinction between the parotta and paratha respectively. While the former requires you to roll out the dough into a ball and roll into a long rope and then coil it to be rolled out again, the latter simply involves rolling and folding the dough to give it a layered texture. 

The most famous of these parottas is the Malabar parotta, which is usually paired with roasted beef in Kerala. A lot of thought has been given into the origins of this style of layering and historians believe that it might be an influence of West Asia and the Arabic styles. The basic version is served as a parotta salna. Salna is a plain tomato-based gravy served with the fluffy, soft and crispy parotta. 

Interestingly, the parotta moved on to Madurai where the Tamilians created the Kothu parotta by shredding the layered flatbread into smaller pieces. Now, this has become a famous street snack, served with a spicy meat or egg gravy. Then there is the Coin parotta and Ceylon parotta for which we have the Sri Lankans to thank. 

From the Tuticorin port in the 20th century, the parotta transformed into smaller and thicker pancakes and later into egg-coated wrap-like items. Transcending boundaries, we’ve got the international counterparts for our humble parotta too, in the form of Malaysia’s roti canai or the busted-up shirt parotta in Trinidad.