|Papad seller talking to a family
near Fatehpuri Masjid, Old Delhi.
It's not just adults who like this snack.
Kids love it too.
Roasted papads are a very inexpensive snack (you can get 2 papads for just one rupee). They are very popular among families picnicking at India Gate in the evenings (although these days papad sellers are becoming a rare sight there). The secret of the papad's popularity is not just the low price, it's the spicy tangy masala that is sprinkled on it. You'll always see people asking for more masala :)
Among Delhi's poorer families, school-going children often eat roasted papad for breakfast, along with a cup of tea. A friend of mine, doing a PhD at Delhi, says that in one low-income community she surveyed, nearly 50% of the kids ate papad for breakfast. I was pretty shocked, really, and then I felt really stupid at my lack of knowledge of what poverty is really all about. What was I expecting? A fancy breakfast with fruit juice?
Papad doesn't really meet any nutritional needs, although since roasted papads are made of lentils, I suppose they are better than nothing. Typically, these papads are made of urad-dal (black gram), a lentil that is native to India. In fact, India is the world's largest producer (and consumer) of urad dal. Black gram accounts for more than 40 % of total legume seeds traded in the world, although I haven't seen it being used in any Western cuisines. Have you? I think it is used in central Asia and some Asian countries.
|Whole black gram (akkha urad or sabut urad)
photographed in my kitchen
In India it is used not just for papads; but also as part of the daily diet, especially in South India, where it is a part of almost every breakfast (dosa, idli, vada).
|Home-made dosa for breakfast.
The batter is made of rice and urad dal.
The thick iron griddle is one of my prized possessions :)
|Dal Makhani (in the bucket) and a
super-orangey paneer butter masala!!
|From the Arkansas blog of Max and Ellen, who travelled with us on a Delhi Magic Tour
There are several studies showing that urad-dal boosts the immune system. It is traditionally used in Ayurveda for several things, including as a face scrub, treatment for dandruff and acne, as a solution for low sperm count and erectile dysfunction in men, and for problems with menstruation. If you're interested in natural remedies, then see this link.
But if like me, your primary interest is in food, then look for a papad seller and try a roasted papad. And don't forget to ask for extra masala!