Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I made my staple Lemon-Cumin Dal the other day and while I served, Donna brought the pappadams over to the light for this photo. I always serve these Indian—what, crackers?—with dal. They add a delicate crisp crunch to the meal and an exotic (to me) flavor. If you’ve never served them, I urge you to try them. Not only delicious, but fun to cook! Made from lentil or chickpea flour, they’re sold as flat smooth discs. Slip them into hot oil and they puff and fold and are finished in five seconds.

While I’m hoping a prominent food blogger, who publishes one of the most lovely recipe blogs I know, will try the recipe for this mung-bean-based dal, featured in Twenty, it reminds me of two other writer cooks specializing in Indian food. The wonderful chef-restaurateur, Suvir Saran, and his book Indian Home Cooking  and the DC-based Monica Bhide, author of The Everything Indian Cookbook. She’s also author of the iPhone app iSpice, a cool spice reference. I love the dynamic flavors of Indian cuisine and intend to do more this fall once I’m done flogging the new book. (Was lucky enough to be on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, talking food apps with Monica and Dorie Greenspan, who just released one of the coolest new cooking apps for iPad on market—if you want to bake with Dorie, this one’s for you).

Here simply a quick post while I’m on tour in between cities—thanks for the impromptu shot, Donna!

If you liked this post on pappadams, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



12 Wonderful responses to “Pappadams!”

  • Hema

    While the plain ones are great fried (a traditional way of eating them is to crush them and mix it in with your rice and dhaal), I’d recommend finding the black pepper variety and toasting them over an open flame – it makes for a spicy, smokey, crunchy addition to plain rice

  • Sam Nash

    If you’d like to make these a bit lower in fat without significant loss of taste roast them on a flat griddle (I use a cast iron griddle). I also have them as snacks at the office by popping them in a microwave for 30-40 secs.

    In India, these are frequently made by women owned co-ops (Madhu Jaffrey did a great show on this). The spices (black pepper, etc.) are rationed out to the women and they’re paid at end of day by how many pappadams they return.

    I do remember my grandmother having them made at home and then drying them out on the terrace.

  • gstatty

    If you don’t want to use the extra oil and deep fry them you can just put em in the microwave for a minute and they cook up quick. I co-sign Hema about cracking off a piece and mixing it with your rice and dal along with some mango achar (green mango pickle). Alternatively you can find papadam (or papad for short pronounced pappar with a single rolling R) with embedded cumin seeds or with peppercorns. The peppercorn papad is my favorite kind since it adds a bit of spice essential to any Indian meal. I always love to eat papad as an appetizer before a meal with a nice glass of scotch or with an ice cold Indian beer.

  • Karin

    No Asian/Indian market here but thanks for the suggestion to “one of the most lovely recipe blogs”. Beautiful inspiration.

  • kitchenriffs

    Love those little flat lentil wafers of goodness. Agree with those that suggest microwaving – that’s the easiest way to cook them, and they taste good. Not as good as when you fry them, alas, but quicker to prepare. The black pepper ones are my favorite.

  • Sheila SIdhu


    You must check out my mother’s Punjabi cookbook, “Menus and Memories From Punjab: Meals that Nourish the Body and Soul.” at by Veronica (Rani) Sidhu.

    The book is arranged in a unique format: a short memory of life as an American in the Punjabi/Sikh culture introduces each menu and brings her unique life alive for the readers.

    Actually, my mother-in-law lives on Berkshire Rd in Cleveland Heights about 1/2 a mile from you, so I would love to have her drop off a signed copy to you!

    take care

  • Tim F

    Hey Michael, since you are into the whole ‘from scratch’ movement, have you tried making your own pappadams? ( 😉 ) It’s much easier than you think – make a simple dough with water, flatten into thin disks and dry. The usual flour used comes from urad dal I think, but I hear you can also use rice flour and I wouldn’t be surprised if besan flour or any legume flour works. I tried lupin flour and they did puff but didn’t taste lovely 😉

  • Suvir Saran

    Michael, you are always too gracious and kind in all you do. Thanks for your generous words, and for the plug for the new book. I hope to get you a copy before too late. Would love for you to see it. This baby may be my most interesting yet. Can we work on something Indian together?

  • Bijay

    The Easiest Trick to Pull off for an Indian Dinner! I make mine –

    1) On Stove Top over an Open flame.
    2) In an Oven , 250 Deg C, for under a Min, with one Turn in between.
    3) In my Microwave , 40 Seconds a Side.

    Can be made moist and formed into small baskets , cones and popped in the oven…I serve these topped with a simple salad of Chopped Tomatoes, Coriander , Mint , Cucumbers and Onions!

  • Panu

    I adore eating Dal, Steamed rice, Tapioca Pappadum (or Papor bhaja as they would be called in my language) with a large green chilli pickled in oil and mustard. One of the best things to do when eating Dal and Rice is to just boil the dal and then temper it with a hint of fenugreek or aniseed fried in mustard oil and a single fresh green chilli, that is so simple but beautiful when mixed with the rice. I suggest you eat it with your fingers, mixing the rice and dal together, forming in a ball and seasoning it with a hint of pickle, with bites of crunchy pappadum between each bite.

  • Angelica

    Love the pappadams. Never have any Indian meal without it. Interesting to know that there are so many varieties of pappadams.


  1.  Pappadams! | Shelterholic Now Food