Sometimes, work and studies bring us to different cities of India; I for one had to go through a similar fate. I was a proud Punjabi who found herself in the Marathi heartland and had to repeat everything twice before getting anything done. My first experience of eating out in the city was laden with adventure. After we ordered our dinner, the waiter came back and asked me- Masala Papad, right? I was buzzed. I hadn’t ordered papad, so I just shook my head for a no. Looking around, I found almost all the tables which were waiting for their dinner had a plate of papad on it. That was my rendezvous with Masala Papad from Maharashtra. It is nothing but a base of plain papad with onion, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander and other condiments mixed together with a dash of lemon. It has an authentic taste very native to Maharashtra and is usually eaten before a meal, as an appetizer.
Papad is a very popular Indian thin wafer, common to meals across India, maybe that’s the reason that the Oxford English Dictionary has now given the word ‘papad’ a place in its language. They describe it as an Indian cookery: a large circular spiced wafer of bread usually made from gram flour and fried in oil.
My meetings with the different facets of the same thin, crispy wafer did not end here, a south Indian friend, whose name eludes me due to its complexity brought with her what they call- ‘papadam’ and ‘appalam’ in some regions. It was especially prepared by her mother in their village of Wayanad, which made tasting the delicacy a whole new experience. In Kerala, Papadam is eaten like the Punjabis eat their pickle; a side dish. It is made from rice flour and eaten with sambhar and rasam. They do not put any condiments or chutneys to go with it, only sprinkling it with a little salt and the Papadam is good to go. Simple and convenient!
Closer home, in north India papad are a side-dish, an evening snack or a late night munchy, we don’t categorize, we just simply eat papad whenever we want to. But one of the most exclusive and varied papads come from Qoot. These papads are gluten-free as they are made from lentils and are rich in protein and dietary fibre making it the perfect companion for a healthy living.
Not only this, they come in seven exciting flavours, which makes a huge range to choose your favorite, some of them being- khatta meetha papad, moong pudina papad, Rajasthani masala papad and my personal favourite –tiranga papad which is made organically in the colours of our national flag!
Considering the way in which people consume papad across the Indian peninsula and abroad too, it would be soon that it becomes The Official National Snack of India.