Thursday, April 15, 2010

Handmade and Sun-kissed

A UK store refers to Papads or Poppadums as they call them - products that are handmade and sun kissed.....

Sun kissed? That could just produce a mild tan at the most.. definitely not a papad, that requires to be thoroughly dried.

We do anything these days to get away from the heat . Coolers, ACs, fizzy sodas, iced stuff. But in the past, summer was literally a time for everything under the sun. The ‘sun’ being the key word.

For elders, it was time to plan and prepare items for the rest of the year. Elaborate shopping lists were prepared and ingredients bought with great care. My mother's Potato Papads (Batata Happal) were a big favourite . Made with potatoes, ragi, rock salt and chilli powder . Large plastic sheets and clean muslin cloth were made ready. Suitable stones sourced to place at four corners of the sheet, just so that it stayed in place. The household ( not us!) woke up earlier than normal that day and ingredients cooked, mashed, mixed and kept ready. The papad making activity commenced as soon as the men were sent off to work. Open verandas and terraces were ideal locations. As kids, we loved eating the boiled mash - it was the tastiest thing on earth. The women rolled the perfect round papads and these were placed on the plastic sheet/cloth and kept out for the sun to do the job. All this in lightning speed to make sure there were sufficient hours of drying. As children, we were to ensure that the birds, ants, dust and pets were kept away. This was a chore that lost its charm after the initial eating of the mash was done with. We would rather be playing.

The papads were then carefully brought in as the sun went down. And kept out for another day of drying. Then they went into tins immediately for storage. Some were fried that very day, more for the compliments. Of course, those days, whatever was made at home had to be distributed. The joy was more in the sharing. Parcels ( that was another elaborate process) made and sent to various parts of the country. And sure enough, after a week, there would be the letters of appreciation.

Dehydrated vegetables, crispies of all kinds - sago, rice, dal, chillies in curd... name it and we had them dried in various forms and shapes. For consumption the year round.

Papad- making fortunately was an art that survived. From home-scale to small scale. It is an item that cannot be mechanised. And thus providing livelihood to many women. The papads left our shores and soon became a popular food abroad. In Britain, about 2 million handmade ‘poppadums’ are consumed each day. As hors d’oeuvres served with apĂ©ritif  and cocktails.

A food - it has evolved from an accompaniment with our rice and rasam to an item of fine dining in the West. It’s versatility is amazing. Fry, roast, microwave it… eat it plain, crush it in rice, add it to a salad or whatever. But as a lifestyle product…? That’s something new. But read this. It appeared in Smart Buy a lifestyle supplement of Business Line

Tick Tock, papad style

Giving the crunchy Indian papad a new lease of life, designer Mukul Goyal has launched the Papadum clocks. Available in small and large sizes in chrome and gold, these clocks are sure to add a pop of spirit to your homes. Head to lifestyle boutiques for more.

Rs 1,550 to Rs 5,695 –

Well….. what’s your take?


  1. Ha ha .. sun-kissed :)

    That clock is interesting .. will check it out @ lifestyle .. thanks for sharing Radha :)

  2. Thanks for the detailed description of what goes behind making those delicious pappadoms.

    During my school days, I used to pass through a neighborhood where a lot of families livelihood was based on making papads and other fry-yummy stuff. The "plastic sheet" was a everyday site with papads of various sizes and shapes. I never realized the hardships behind making these!

  3. Nostalgia! Takes me back to the times we 'guarded the javvarasi vathals' :)

    It was a community affair at our Marwari neighbour's, all the ladies went over to roll out the papads, I'm not sure how many actually contributed ;-)

    Too much! Guess what I got for word verification? - iropodom!Sounds just like poppodum :)

  4. Lovely post, Radha! The 'papad-clock' is something new! Very interesting. :)

    I, too, remember the papad- making activities that took place during the summer months.

    In the small town where we lived when I was a child, the ladies used to help one another. So they would all gather to prepare the papads at each house, turn by turn.

    And we children would get the job of 'guarding' the papads when they were laid out to dry!

  5. Costly watch - too costly.
    But anyways, the post is very good because it says the importance of summer-days. Too good.

  6. Radha, thanks for the trip down nostalgia lane. Brings back my childhood as well. Interesting side notes too. It is a good source of income for women, isnt it? And a dish that hasn't died away as too laborious.

  7. Sun kissed is a pretty interesting word. :-)

    Thanks for sharing these info. Liked them.

  8. Lovely post ma! Can almost taste the potato mash! Maybe you and I can make some this summer. What say? You up to it??!!!

  9. Sunkissed !! LOL !

    Lovely account !

  10. Beautiful post. It is an art that survived through the ages.

    I loved the way it is described in U.K.

  11. What an interesting post; I loved every word. I could almost see all the activity as you described it. Now this is a food that I would like to try, I think because of all that you shared about its making.

  12. Nice one. Sun Kissed? Never heard of that in USA. But there is plenty of "sun dried" here.

    Papad-Clock. It is interesting.

  13. sun kissed,
    great marketing
    like your narration til end felt interesting and
    clock pic is wonderful.

  14. you've taken me back in time. you really have. a chilhood spent watching mothers and aunts prepare crispies of different kinds, then early married days when the same things were tried out by me and holding demonstrations to neighbors whe looked upon me in awesome wonder. Then helping out neighbors to make them and finally with children being health concious and with my BP and soaring cholestrol levels i've had to say NO to poppodams. I do buy a packet once in a while to help some needy person.

  15. Wonderful post..Loved it!!
    I love these papads or poppadums whatever u may call it..Roasted As in masala papad!!
    The tick tock papad clock was an interesting one!!

  16. First time on your blog .

    I never thought so much about papad.


  17. sun kissed!! nice one,never heard of....My mom still makes vadaam the good old style.. sure we can't do this without Mr. Sun..hope u had a good wekeend.

  18. Great post,I could see all the activity as you described it :) :)

    marinela x x

  19. Very very interesting post, Radha! Like every others who read this post of yours, you took me too down memory lane!

    I used to help my grandmother when I was very small and swallow the raw round balls before pressing them into paapads. I still remember the taste!

    Lateron, I was making them out of curiosity when I was young even with small children. I did vadaam until some years back. Everyone in my family loved to eat them raw! I had huge plastic sheets at home too!

    'sun-kissed' word is funny! Will just have a look at Life-style, when I visit the store.

    Your narration behind the making of paapad is very nice! Thank you!

  20. Those were the days..but now temp is going up really high, we cant do much.


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