search logo

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!

Paraoa parai – Māori fried bread

Dec. 22, 2020

  • Nadine Lagaso

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)


  1. Mix the water, milk, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes to activate yeast. After 10 minutes, the mixture will be bubbly!
  2. Mix the flour, salt and melted butter/canola oil. Slowly add the yeast mixture to the dry mix. Fold together gently. Lumps are okay – don’t overmix !
  3. Knead lightly until dough is less sticky and forms a ball. Cover the dough with a wrap or a towel to provide a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes. The dough should double in size.
  4. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (it’s also helpful to flour your hands and rolling pin). Knead lightly. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch thickness and cut into two-inch squares. Cover the cut dough again for another 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a medium size pot of oil to 350 degrees.
  6. Gently place dough one or two at a time in the hot oil and cook until golden brown (roughly one to two minutes per side). Flip bread after one side cooks.
  7. Place cooked bread on some paper towels to soak up excess oil. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.

Serving suggestions:

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!

aotearoa, ho'okahua, recipe, cultural conversations, kūkahekahe, new zealand

Regions, Employee 'Ohana, Ka ʻohana Kamehameha, News Briefs, Newsroom, Department News, Ho‘okahua

Kawaiaha‘o Plaza

567 South King St
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 523-6200

KS Hawai‘i

16-716 Volcano Rd
Kea‘au, HI 96749
(808) 982-0000

KS Kapālama

1887 Makuakāne St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 842-8211

KS Maui

275 ‘A‘apueo Pkwy
Pukalani, HI 96768
(808) 572-3100