Pappadam, Pappadom, Poppadam, Poppadom Puppodum, , ….This is not a tongue-twister challenge: these are just some of the (musical) alternatives for the more popular PAPAD , the all pervasive savoury add-on that completes and complements an Indian meal, serves as a starter, or just a good old snack.
These are some of my favourite papads
Papad recipes vary from region to region and from family to family. The flour used for making papads can be chick pea, black gram (urad), channa dal (Bengal gram), and split green gram (moong dal). You can also make papads out of rice flour and potatoes.
Typically, the flour is made into ‘tight’ dough with oil (traditionally peanut oil) and salt. After this, you can let your creative juices flow: add jeera (cumin) chilli flakes, pepper, ajwain (aniseed)- ah, the list is as endless as your creativity!
The dough is rolled out into thin rounds: either by hand or mechanically. Here, I must add that the old hands at papad-making are no mean machines either, dishing out the thinnest papads at the speed of light!
These are then dried in the sun and then stored. Obviously, activity for the dry days of summer.
Choose your preference
Papads can be roasted, microwaved or fried as per choice. They can also be made more exotic than that!
Enter the masala papad!
Masala is the spice of Indian life. Masala papads are popular starters and snacks. You can serve them with beverages, soup or just on their own.
Masala papad is essentially fried/roasted/microwaved papad topped with imagination. So, every recipe that follows uses the ‘cooked’ papad- please remember that.
How to cook a papad without it curling up
If you want to top papads, they have to be toppable: no dents, no curls, no cracks.
If you are deep frying them:
Make sure the oil is hot
Drop a papad in, press down in the middle and quickly remove.
You can also hold it down with a big spatula.
The microwave is pretty handy this way:
You can lightly brush the raw papad with a little oil
Put a paper napkin on the turntable of the microwave
Place your papad on it.
Zap for 30 seconds. More if necessary.
Keep an eye on the papad, or it might just go up in flames.
Some even use a toaster. You can try it.
Essentially, the flatter the papad, the easier it is to top and transform it.
The popular salad topping
Chop the veggies and keep aside. Add salt and lemon juice just before you top. DO NOT TOP unless you are ready to serve/eat.
Finely chop tomatoes, onions, green chillies(optional), coriander, kheera (cucumber).
Season with salt, chilli powder, chat masala, and a little lemon juice.
Top the papad. Enjoy!
Mexican Masala: guacamole topping
For the guacamole:
one ripe avocado (should be dark brown outside, very soft to the touch), finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, and coriander, one clove of minced garlic, a tablespoon of lemon juice, salt to taste.
Scoop the pulp from the avocado into a dish. Mash it till smooth. Add all the other ingredients.
Spread the guacamole thinly on the papad.
Ready to serve!
1 raw mango or the sweet and sour ‘Totapuri/ Bangalora’ mango if you don’t like it too sour; kheera (cucumber), and green chillies. Chop these really fine.
Add chilli powder, cumin (jeera) powder, chat masala(optional), pepper (if your base papad does not have cracked pepper already or you want a little more punch), salt to taste.
Your topping’s ready! Crown your papad before you serve.
Papad coleslaw canapés
Cut your raw papads into four sections by folding into a semi-circle and then, over again. Microwave so that they do not curl up. This is your canapé.
To make the coleslaw:
You require 1 tbsp. hung curd. 1 tbsp mayonnaise (veg. mayo is also available in the market; look for the green dot), about 100 grams of cabbage, 1 small carrot and ¼ of an apple(optional). English mustard- as per taste. Salt.
Shred cabbage finely. Make juliennes of carrot. If using, slice the apple really thin: use a slicer. Add enough mayo and hung curd to make a dry-ish dressing. Add the mustard and salt. Mix well.
Top onto papad sections before serving.
Punchy potato masala papad
2 small potatoes; 2 green chillies chopped fine; imli (tamarind) chutney- you can get a good brand ready-to-use in any good store; a bowl of sev- use the fiery Bikaner variety if you like your masala with a BIG M; chopped coriander leaves; chaat masala; black salt.
Boil and dice potatoes. Sprinkle the black salt on them, add the chopped chillies, and toss.
Spread some imli chutney on the papads. Top with diced potato mix. Sprinkle some chaat masala. Top with sev, followed by coriander.
Crunchy & munchy!
Health-is-wealth masala topping
2 carrot grated; 2 tbsps of grated raw coconut; 2 green chillies chopped fine; some lemon juice; chopped coriander; salt to taste.
Mix all the ingredients.
Pile on this healthful mix onto your roasted papad. Tamp it down.
Happy guilt-free snacking!
A masala papad story:
A Bollywood film actress was the participant in Celebrity Big Brother in England, where celebrities are required to co-exist in a house. Here she was called, among other unsavoury names, a ‘poppadam.’ Because of the hue and cry that this gutsy actress made about the racial abuse that she was subjected to, Big Brother lost its sponsors and the TV watchdog Ofcom ruled to have sanctions placed on the series. Did she win the house? Oh yes, the sweepstakes involved both fame and money!
Moral of the story: Beware the power of the poppodam (or papad)!
When you buy papads, make sure that they have been stored properly. If you like that extra punch in your papads, buy the already-masala variety with cracked pepper. Papads are also victim to insect attacks- so be careful that your brand is an assurance of quality and freshness.