Friday, November 23, 2007

On the Hunt for Papadum (Papad)

Anyone who has ever been to an Indian Restaurant is familiar with papadum, those flat, round crackers with the bubbled up appearance. I have always liked them, and with my recent forays into Flushing, have been trying many different brands and flavors. I have also been experimenting with various ways to prepare the papadum.

When you go to an Indian market, you are literally confronted with a wall of papad. For the uninitiated, deciding which one to purchase can be a confusing decision. But since papadum are cheap, I am off my diet, and I was also interested in various ways to prepare them, I bought several brands and varieties. After much consideration, I have decided that my favorite is jeera (cumin seed). Coming in a close second is plain, which is anything but. Both of these were Lijjat Brand, which is recognizable because of a green paper dot about 2" across displaying the papadum. Other brands include Ganesh and, unless you read Urdu, a brand only recognizable as the "Scare Bunny Brand." Some papad were almost too spicy to eat.

Cooking papad is a bit of a process. There is an excellent photo-essay on Instructables detailing how to cook papad over an open fire (a.k.a. a gas stove). There is also an excellent picture of scary bunny brand papad. Several posters on the website noted that they (or their mothers) deep fried the papad. I have pan-fried them, and it works but is time consuming. Cooking over a fire works, but I tend to have blackened papad more than I would like. I am a big fan of cooking papad in a toaster oven, at about 450 degrees, which allow you to make several at once without the burning. As you can see from the photo, there is excellent bubbling and minimal burning.

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