A friend of Ho‘okahua – Auntie Gina Harding of Aurere, Aotearoa – shares her recipe for paraoa parai – Māori fried bread – a family favorite. Palaoa palai (Māori fried bread in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi) could be a great addition to your dinner table!
This mo‘olelo is part of Kūkahekahe – Cultural Conversations – featuring personal experiences and insights from faculty, staff and friends about compelling cultural happenings within the KS organization, throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and across the larger Pacific and global communities.
Friends and ʻohana gather close as the cool ocean breeze blows in to the bach (pronounced "batch" – a beach house). The light of the last glowing rays of the sun are replaced by the warm crackling flames of a fire.
ʻUkulele and guitar are taken out of their cases and folks start to sing the old favorites. Auntie Gina turns on the burner under the outdoor wok, which is soon hot enough to drop squares of batter into bubbling oil. Out of the oil come crispy puffs of golden bread, which are passed around, still steaming, to each person. A liberal pour of sweet golden syrup tops each square of paraoa parai, Māori fried bread.
Fried bread is a favorite in Aotearoa – the perfect accompaniment to all kinds of kai (food), and it could be a great addition to your holiday table! This recipe was shared with us by Auntie Gina Harding (Ko Whatatiri te hapū, ko Ngāti Whatua te iwi) of Aurere.
Here’s her treasured family recipe:
Paraoa parai (makes 12-14 pieces)
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup milk at room temperature (or 1 cup of water)
1/2 tbsp dried active yeast
1/2 tbsp white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups of flour
Extra flour for dusting
2 tbsp melted butter (or 2 tbsp vegetable of canola oil)
4 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying (or 1 inch of oil at the bottom of your pot)
Serve hot with honey, jam or jelly, maple syrup or powdered sugar. Or, if you have recently come back from Aotearoa – golden syrup, manuka honey, or New Zealand butter! Paraoa parai can also be served savory. We had a delicious boar burger in Waitangi using this bread!
Note: Be sure to use a heavy pan that can withstand high heat! Although the bread is best enjoyed hot and fresh, it can also be refrigerated and reheated!