Making papadam at home, from scratch is an unbelievably time-consuming and tedious process unless you have the time. Certainly there no better papadam than the ones we make ourselves. Papadams are also readily available in every Asian/Indian store and so the best option, if you want to enjoy crunchy papadams instead of making the yourselves, is buying a packet and then roasting, frying, or baking it. Cooking papadam is easy, simple, quick, and requires just 5 to 10 minutes to get through a batch of 10 papadams, and the outcome is a yummy, crispy side dish or appetizer.
What is Papadam?
Papadams are thin disc-shaped flatbread-like sides originating in South India. Its main ingredient is peeled black gram (vigna mungo) – made into flour, kneaded into dough, rolled out into thin round discs, and sun-dried until soft dry consistency meaning it will not crack when you fold the papadam disc.
The best way to cook papadams is to fry them. It yields the crunchiest and crispiest papadams. Alternatively, you can also roast them in a skillet on medium heat. Papadams cook up very fast and hence, watch them, or else they will burn. I have personally burnt them at times when multi-tasking in the kitchen. It is important to patiently stay by the side and remove them from the heat as soon as they puff up and turn golden brown.
Papadams which were traditionally served in South Indian restaurants as appetizers or snacks have now become famous not only in India but across the world. They add a great crunchy texture to rice and dal or even salads and vegetable curries. But the potential of papadams should not be limited to just a side dish. Texturally and flavor-wise, papadams are great for serving along with dips, sauces, and chutneys. Many times, I have enjoyed papadams as a solo snack with pestos and salsas. Once, a didi added pieces of raw papadams to tomato chutney and cooked the papadam in it. I was amazed at her idea and the outcome was delicious! After that, I have tried it several times myself and they taste yummylicious – like large sheets of spaghetti!
Papadams are known by different names at different places. In Tamil Nadu, they’re called Appalam, in Kerala, they are known as papadum (with a U), in most parts of North India, they are known as papad and in the west, papadams are sometimes referred to as fried bread. Interestingly, papadams not only have a rich history and culinary past but are also associated with women’s empowerment in India.
- 1 packet urad dal papadam
- 1 cup coconut oil or ghee (for frying)
To toast the papadam, place it in a toaster and cook until it is crispy and baked.
Heat oil in a skillet or pan over medium-high heat.
Add papadams and cook for 5 to 10 seconds, till golden brown. Once cooked, the papadams will enlarge and become almost twice their original size.
Rest the fried papadams on a wired rack to drain out excess oil for 5 minutes, and serve.