Instructables

How to cook papadums

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Papadums are those giant round crackery things that you get at the Indian restaurant. It turns out that you can actually make these at home with a minimal amount of effort, so that you can serve crisp warm papadums alongside dinner at home. And while you're at it, why not improve upon the design a little bit? (Round is too square!)
 
 
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Step 1: Gather tools and supplies.

Take a trip to your local Indian grocery store. (If you've never been to one, you're really missing out.) If you live in rural Iowa and can't find an Indian grocery in the phone book, you can get what you need online.

Find a package of papadums. At our local Indian grocery stores, we have a choice of what seems like a dozen brands to choose from. The two types shown are ones that we regularly get. The one with the scary looking pink bunny has no added spice whatsoever, and we use it whenever the spice-challenged come over for dinner on a day that we're making Indian food. The other one has added spices including Jeera, aka cumin seed. (You can also get papadums in other flavors including garlic, black pepper, and a number of very spicy varieties.) The wood-grain texture on these is quite tasty looking (up close), and those are the ones that we'll be cooking today.

There are a number of ways to cook papadums. The package with the scary pink bunny says "INSTRUCTION: TO BE FRIED OR ROASTED BEFORE CONSUMING." (Thanks, guys, that helps a lot!) There are actually quite a few ways to do this. One way is to deep fry them, which is a heck of a lot of work, and another is to microwave them. A better method is to cook them directly over an open flame. You can use a charcoal or propane grill, a camping stove, a blow torch, or cook them directly on the burner of your gas stove. Remarkably, this last method is both common and practical.

Finally, you'll need a pair of tongs and quick reflexes-- these cook quickly.

Step 2: Open the package & separate the papads

Raw papadums (or papads) are thin flexible sheets that look and feel like the illegitimate love child of a tortilla and a sheet of notebook paper. They are made mostly of Udad Dal, which is a type of bean that is ground up to make (bean) flour, a process not so different from grinding wheat to make (wheat) flour. Papads keep on your shelf about as well as dried pasta, so it's easy to keep a stock around for when you need them.

Papads come packed something like a dozen to a package, which usually costs around $1.50. Depending on which brand you have and how fresh they are, it's possible for them to stick together slightly, a little bit like tortillas sometimes do. Figure out how many you'll be cooking, and put the rest away. We usually go through a whole pack every time that we make some.

(Can you make your own papads from scratch, rather than buying these pre-made blanks? Well, yes you can. However, it's probably not worth the effort. These are very inexepensive, quick to prepare, and quite good. Even our Indian food cookbooks say that you should do it this way.)

Step 3: Get your stove on.

A high flame works best, but you'll need to be super-vigilant, since ten seconds can make the difference between perfection and a room full of smoke from your burnt papadum.

If you're timid, you might want to start with a medium-low flame to begin with. Don't worry too much about cleaning the grates; that high flame will sterilize them pretty quickly.

Step 4: Put Papadum in Peril.

Take your first victim and place it, centered, on the grill. Keep a close eye on it, and watch for changes. Depending on how high your flame is, it can be anywhere from five to thirty seconds before you'll see anything.

Step 5: First bubbles

As the papadum cooks, it starts to blister like crazy, throughout the part that's over the flame. In the photo here, you can see a few large bubbles that have just popped up.

Step 6: Wait until it's cooked on one side...

Here you can see that the papadum is covered in bubbles except for the parts right above the grill grates. There is a distinct color change in the parts that have already bubbled. In practice, you'll want to move it a little bit with your tongs to avoid this sort of shadowing. The first side is done when the top surface is just barely covered with bubbles.

Step 7: Flip it good.

With your tongs, flip the papadum over to brown it slightly on the back side. I like them to have just a few black spots on each side.

Take the papadum off the stove and put it on a plate for serving or to cool.

Once you've had a little practice and are comfortable turning up the flame, the total cooking time can be under 30 seconds per piece. I budget about five minutes to cook a dozen papadums.

Step 8: Serve and eat

Even when you take the papadums off the stove, they are still quite flexible. It isn't until they've had time to cool down just a little bit (about one minute) that they transition from chewy to the crisp brittle consistency that you expect.

Simply stacking the papadums works well to get them out of the way and let them cool. They're especially nice when they're fresh and still warm, so serve them that way if at all possible.

Step 9: Making it more interesting

Since the raw papads are a lot like paper, you can cut them quite easily with scissors. Let's get crafty!

Step 10: Cooking a reshaped papadum

Cutting and reshaping papadums doesn't substantially affect the cooking procedure; just throw the new shape on the burner.

Step 11: Serving suggestion

Papadums lend themselves to dipping in a number of interesting Indian sauces. We suggest dipping them in (L-R) corriander-mint chutney, tomato relish, mint raita, and tamarind chutney.

Have fun cooking and eating these things, and see some of our other projects at http://www.evilmadscientist.com/
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cornboy36 years ago
I keep mine in the fridge and It leaves them solid. :(
nachobobs6 years ago
Or.... 10 seconds in the microwave. Which ever floats your boat, just keep an eye on them
But it looks cool and there is fire. :)
Isn't this recipe from an old Cheech & Chong movie? They did it with tortillas.
MALEMARTHA6 years ago
I like this post. However, if you are sick of flaming papadum, you can also cook them at about 450 (or on broil) in a toaster oven.
cry_wolf8 years ago
Deep frying is the traditional method and the best method for the most crunchy and satisfying results. I am of indian descent and my mom knows how to cook them authentically, whil this is a good method, for a more bubbly golden and super crunchy papdum deep fry it.
my family are indians we cook it over the flames. maybe you are from a different part as i am?
Deep fried is always good
anything deep fried is good. like that lady said "bring me something deep fried and smothered in chocolate!" from "The Emporers New Groove" (no, I'm not 12 but that movie still rocks)
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lol sorry, its been like 3 years since I saw that movie.
hehe.
lemonie7 years ago
(In my experience) there is a difference between these and "the giant round crackery things that you get at the Indian restaurant". These (I prefer the type with cracked black pepper) are smoother and tend to retain oil on the surface, giving an oily finish. The restaurant discs are more porus, so while they may be as oily they seem dryer.
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I was referring to "the giant round crackery things that you get at the Indian restaurant", not papads. L
I'm Indian/Viet and my Granpa makes these a we eat them with every thing. Good Instructable Kudos!
Punkguyta7 years ago
These look good, I've always wanted to try them out, but haven't actually gotten around to it. What does it taste like?
its guddie
BruceR8 years ago
Personally I put them in a microwave for a few seconds.
theRIAA BruceR8 years ago
I cook mine over cedar coals from a tree I karate choped into wood clippings
You did what?!
Ki. but this guy is joking because even Ki masters cant do that. maybe break it, but not shatter it.
R J BruceR8 years ago
BruceR, Microwave cooks them and we do that often, but the taste is distinctly different and better if cooked over flame. The old over flame or microwave argument. To each his own. This would be a great snacky bitey finger foodie for when the BBQ is going in the backyard. R J
mindstyle06 R J8 years ago
RJ, I am not too sure if you are Indian but as an Indian, I can say that there are loads of different varieties of papads. The one that you are showing (make Lijjat) tastes same no matter if you make it in oven or roast them on flame. It all depends on the papad recipe. This is though not true for the one for my mom makes at home. She has own recipe. Or may be personal choice and feeling (as I hate that sticky feeling of Lijjat but outside India Lijjat is best:)
R J mindstyle067 years ago
I agree on the 'sticky' feeling that comes off Lijjat brand. Hence not a favorite. You should try the 'Bikaneri' papad, Ganesh brand, I believe. Flame-roasted, of course!. They come out, nice and thin and not at all sticky.
roosta7 years ago
shuv it in oil!! dammit man! pan + lots of oil x 2 papadoms = nice crispy papadoms. always done it like this. this way is better than the indian resaronts!
oskay (author)  roosta7 years ago
I've had them cooked in many different ways at restaurants. The Indian restaurants around here (and there are a *LOT* of them) seem to be divided about 50/50 on deep frying versus roasting. I much prefer the roasted ones.
sparks8 years ago
I've always deep fried mine. Didn't actually know there was any other way. Ths sounds a lot easier.
sparks sparks7 years ago
with the smaller ones, you can fit two at a time in each slot. keep an eye on them though.
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oskay (author)  sparks7 years ago
Hey, that's a great tip-- Thanks!
Elastometer7 years ago
Great instructable! I actually make my own pappads from scratch - I'll do an instructable if I get time.
Anyway, for those in the UK, instead of buying the usual Sharwoods etc paps, try : http://www.simplyspice.co.uk/
These guys are great and extremely cheap - I use them all the time.

E
nice... tried makin breads at home, but bakin just aint my gift. mah cinnamon rolls taste like crap and my loaves are a bit rubbery. hehe. imma stick to cookin instead
here in the Philippines (well in OUR house at least), we do the stovetop bit too, or otherwise we just put em under the turbo broiler for a couple of minutes. they burn pretty quickly, so watch out. in some indian restos, i think they cook roti bread (wich is a bit like these... i never knew that they were also called papads) in this really deep stone "drum" with charcoal in the bottom- they just stick the fresh dough to the sides of the drum and leave em there for a few mins. so i tried broiling em on top of charcoal (bruch with some olive oil first), and they were really good.
oskay (author)  james_vaughnn077 years ago
There are a lot of different Indian breads; some are cooked on stovetop, on a grill, in an oven, or fried. They seem to be universally tasty. There's a list of different types of flatbreads at wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatbread ) that links to a bunch of other types as well. I've learned to make six of them so far. =)
nabilahmad8 years ago
That's great for complete controll over the process, bu ti've found that the easiest is to just use a standard bread toaster.
gaminfiend8 years ago
i would imagine, that while not traditional in any regard at all... that they could also be cooked on a comal or a griddle pan if you had an electric stove. but this sounds neat so i may have to try it out. :)
canida8 years ago
The 1-minute microwave trick is great for work where you may not have access to fun things like open flames. Even my Indian coworkers did this, partially to avoid excess dietary oil. Also: when we want guacamole and don't have chips on hand, we quickly microwave papadum. They don't go stale like a half-eaten bag of tortilla chips.
alexdcd8 years ago
May give it a try on sunday
alexdcd8 years ago
Open Flame?!?!?!?! You are supposed to fry them off in a large flat pan with a light coat of oil applied with a brush, they taste much better and traditional, if you put too much oil on, get some paper towels.
oskay (author)  alexdcd8 years ago
There are a number of valid methods; I happen to like the taste of the open flame version the best.
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