Fennel-Scented Sweet Flaky Bread (Meetha Paratha)

I first tried making this delicious flat bread at my friend Meta’s house. At the last moment we realized that her brown wheat flour was no good, so we gave it a go using a mixture of buckwheat and pea flour. They turned out yummy, but this bread is much easier to make with wheat flour. What happened with the non glutenous flour was the pastry started flaking off and loosing its structure when it was rolled as thin as this recipe calls for.

So I tried this one again, using the right kind of flour. It is a super charming little bread. It’s like a crunchy pita with two thin layers of bread surrounding a thin layer of sugar and air. It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, and reminds me of a pancake with the syrup already inside. It keeps well for a few days, but gets much harder and chewier. Again, this makes it great with a hot drink. The fennel scent is subtle, but comes out more if you let the bread cool.

I was drawn to this recipe partly because of the fennel seeds and partly because there are so few ingredients! It comes from the amazing Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni. It can be made vegan by using oil instead of ghee.


  • 3 c. whole wheat flour, plus additional flour for dusting
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, coarsely ground
  • 2/3 c. usli ghee or light vegetable oil
  • 1 c. warm water (100 degrees F.)
  • 1/3-1/2 c. brown or white sugar
  1. In a large bowl, blend the 3 c. flour and fennel seeds. Add 2 tbsp. of the oil or ghee and run it into the mixture thoroughly with your fingertip. Add 1/2 c. of the water all at once and blend. Then start adding water one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together in a ball and the sides of the bowl are clean. Don’t add any more water than necessary.
  2. Prepare a clean work surface for kneading by dusting it with flour. Wash your hands and smear 2 tbsp. of the ghee or oil onto your fingers. Knead the dough for about 10 min. until it feels satiny and it springs back after being poked gently. Put the dough in a clean bowl and let it sit, covered in saran wrap, for 30 min.
  3. Transfer the dough back onto your work surface and roll it into an 8″ long cylinder. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and cover with a kitchen towel.
  4. Take one piece of dough, form it into a ball and then roll it out into a 5″ round. Scoop 2-3 tsp. of sugar into the center of the round. Encase the sugar in the dough by gathering the edges of the circle and pinching them together tightly at the center to seal.
  5. Now take the filled, sealed ball, place it on the work surface and roll it into a circle 6″-7″ in diameter. Cover with a kitchen towel and repeat for the other 7 pieces. Do not stack the breads.
  6. In a heavy bottomed frying pan over medium heat, place the breads one at a time. Cook on the first side for about 3 min. or until it is speckled with brown. Then flip the bread. After a minute, drizzle one tbsp. of oil or ghee around the edge of the bread and fry for a minute more until it is done. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and continue with the remaining 7 breads.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. What a cool process! I love fennel seed.


  2. thePatternedPlate says:

    Oh my goodness…I am drooling! You have just jolted a memory from the back of beyond!
    My aunt used to make plain chapatis on her hot tawa and I would stand on the side, helping her move them to a plate, but really, I was hoping to snaffle one up. She waited till I was near panting with greed, then smear ghee over a fresh cooked chapati, douse it in sugar, roll it like a cigar and hand it over….I just sat on the kitchen floor at ate it!
    Didn’t even THINK of something like this! I am so going to give this a go! Cheers Silvi!

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