An easy, crowd pleaser Indian appetizer that can be put together in about 10 minutes. Masala Papad is a delicious snack made with fire roasted or fried papadams topped with a variety of fresh toppings and spices.
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You have probably had this in Indian restaurants but haven’t really thought of it as something you can make at home. This recipe here for Masala Papad is one of the easiest Indian appetizers you can put together with store bought papadams / papads and other fresh and pantry ingredients.
If you are not familiar with this dish at all, then let me start with helping you understand the basic ingredients in this recipe.
What is a papad?
Papads or Papadams are sun dried, flat, thin and round Indian wafers that you get to buy in all Indian and most South Asian stores. The ingredients that go into a papad are varied and differ from region to region. Most commonly papads are made with urad dal (black split lentil), rice, tapioca, potato and even chickpeas. The lentil ones are more common in the northern part of India, whereas the rice and tapioca ones are more common in the Southern part of India.
Papads are also called papadams or appalam, again depending on which part of India you are from and what you call them there.
I recently discovered this brand of papads and I love all the different varieties they have. The most common brand of papads in India is, Lijjat Papad.
How do you cook papads?
You get to buy these store bought papads in packets of 10-12 or even more. You can store them in a cool, dry place in the pantry or kitchen for almost an indefinite amount of time.
To cook them
- You can deep fry them in any high heat oil.
- You can fire roast them on top of an open flame.
- You can also microwave them, usually one at a time and in intervals of 5-10 secs, till all of the surface area of the papad is cooked.
Now, moving on to Masala Papad, this super easy to make delicious recipe is quite a popular Indian appetizer. Many Indian restaurants, especially Punjabi restaurants have this on their menu for the starter course.
It is an easy to put together recipe, especially if you have all the other ingredients already chopped up for this recipe, or you have it as leftovers from cooking something else. There is no cooking required except for cooking the papads, which honestly is actually not cooking, in my opinion.
If you just roast the papads on an open flame or cook it in the microwave, it is also a great low carb recipe.
How to make Masala Papad
The ingredients for masala papad are
- Papads for the base
- For the toppings - finely chopped red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro, Thai green chillies and spices like chat masala, cayenne pepper powder and some salt and lime
To make this recipe,
- Cook the papad - my preferred method is roasting on an open flame. The little char it gets on the edges gives it a unique flavor.
- Assemble all the toppings.
- Top the papad with toppings - some people like to mix up all the toppings and top the papads with it. I like to keep the toppings separate and separately top the papads with all the toppings.
Another fun way to serve masala papad is to have a papad bar of some sorts, have all the toppings laid out and different types of roasted papads. Every one can make their own favorite kind of masala papad. Some like more of some toppings and some like less of it. This way, everyone is happy.
Pro Tip for Serving: Do not ever pre assemble the masala papad. The toppings will make the papads soggy. What makes this a fun and delicious recipe is the crispy crunchy texture of the papads along with the softness of the toppings. You don't want to mess with that.
Other Indian Appetizer recipes
- Paneer Butternut Squash Tikki Patties
- Pakora Chat
- Beetroot Parippu Vada - Spiced Beet and Lentil Fritters
- Lamb Kebabs with Cilantro Mint Cauliflower Puree
- Matar Kachoris - Fried Pastry with Spiced Green Peas Filling
Variations to Masala Papad
The recipe here is the most common way Masala Papads are made, but you don't have to stick to this recipe. There are a million other ways you can make a fun, tasty dish out of this. You can obviously use different types of papad. And there are so many different toppings you can put on it. Here are some ideas.
- Grated or finely chopped raw green mangoes along with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. It gives a nice sour punch.
- Shredded cheese like pepper jack to take on that little spice from the rest of the toppings or some parmesan to add to that saltiness.
- You can just use pico de gallo, if in a pinch, as it has onions, tomatoes, cilantro, all used in this recipe.
- You can use any other type of chopped salsa too - like mango salsa, strawberry salsa.
- You can go in a completely different route and make a masala papad bruschetta of sorts with tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Cook the papad - my preferred method is roasting on an open flame. The little char it gets on the edges gives it a unique flavor. Keep flipping the papads over the flame with a pair of tongs, till all of the papad is cooked. There will be a few charred spots, but that is part of the game.
- Get all the toppings together, ready to go.
- Lay out the papads next to each other. Add a little of each topping to each of the papads. They are now ready to eat!
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