Poppadoms

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 180g chickpea/gram flour
  • 1 teaspoon cracked/coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 14 cup water
  • cayenne (for dusting tops)
  • oil, for frying (optional)

Method

Stir together the flour, pepper, ground cumin seed, and salt in a large bowl or in the food processor; mix thoroughly until the spices are evenly distributed. Add the garlic and mix well.

Add enough of the water to form a dough that will hold together in a cohesive ball; if necessary, add up to 1 additional tablespoon water. The dough should be fairly stiff and dry; if it is too wet, it will not roll well.

Knead the dough well for about 5 minutes by hand or pulse for about 15 seconds in the food processor; the dough should be smooth.

With your hands, shape the dough into a cylinder or log about 2 inches thick and 6 inches long. With a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Place each slice on a lightly oiled surface. Lightly oil the top of the slice and then roll out into a very thin circle about 6 or 7 inches in diameter. Poppadoms must be rolled extremely thin, maximum 1/16 inch. If the dough sticks to your rolling pin, gently pull it off.

Dust the tops of each papadam with cayenne pepper. Using a metal spatula to loosen the edges of the poppadoms from the rolling surface, carefully place them on large baking sheets.

The traditional method for preparing and frying poppadoms is described below where you fry them in the oven; you can also bake them in a 150C oven for about 15 to 25 minutes, or until crisp and dry. The cooking time may vary beyond this range depending upon the thickness and moisture in the rolled dough. Cool them on a rack.

To prepare the poppadoms in an authentic manner, first allow them to dry by leaving them in the sun for a few hours or by placing them in a very low oven (less than 100C) for 1 to 2 hours, turning occasionally. The aim is to dry the poppadoms until they are just slightly flexible and show no moisture; they should not brown.

At this point, the poppadoms may be stacked flat and stored in an airtight container until needed; they will keep for months if stored properly.

When ready to serve, heat about 1/8 inch of oil in a large skillet; the oil should be hot, but not smoking; a piece of poppadom will sizzle when dropped in.

One at a time, drop the poppadoms into the hot oil. Turn the poppadom when it begins to curl at the edges; it will quickly fry and become crisp. Remove it before it turns brown.

Cool and drain the poppadoms on paper towels and eat them immediately.