Sidekick to main character: Papad’s cracker evolution

The papad is a crunchy, waffle-like side often made with rice and sago flour or ground moong and urad dal. Some may deem it largely inconsequential alongside a lavish meal but the cracker is having its own Cinderella moment right now. From pasta, ravioli and rolls to cones and even paranthas — the transformation it is undergoing at the hands of chefs all over the country is fascinating.

Papad Ravioli, a new twist to the Italian pasta by chef Saransh Goila
Papad Ravioli, a new twist to the Italian pasta by chef Saransh Goila

We speak to chefs about the unusual twists being put on them and what one should keep in mind while doing so. Chef Meghna Kamdar, who has created papad paneer spring rolls, says, “In Rajasthan and Gujarat, papad recipes such as papad churi and papad ki sabzi are very popular. We also have papad ka atta, used to make dishes such as papad ke tikke. The side is an extremely versatile item and one can be as creative with it as they wish to.”

One food that takes well to experimentation is the pasta, yet another testimony to which is the papad pasta by chef Saransh Goila, where papad strips and sautéed vegetables come together in the usual pasta sauces. “The recipe was a game-changer in my home and for my Instagram reels. Even Italians will enjoy the papad pasta. After that, came papad ravioli with stuffings of your choice. I did spinach, mushroom and malai paneer. It’s truly epic what a papad can do,” Goila wrote on Instagram.

Though there are near-endless combinations one can try out with papad, there are some basics that need to be kept in mind. For instance, sogginess must be prevented at all costs. Dishes prepared with papad are great when served immediately.

The ingredients that you combine with papad, too, play a significant role in how the dish will turn out. Therefore, avoid moisture-heavy ingredients. Lastly, remember to keep your papad away from strong-smelling spices or ingredients as it has the tendency to absorb odours, which can interfere or completely change the final flavour of the dish.

(Inputs by chef Reetu Uday Kugaji )