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 apéritif 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
Rs 1,550 to Rs 5,695 –
Well….. what’s your take?