While many around the world have papads alongside main meals, Rajasthanis have made a complete dish out of it.
Whether you’re from the southern part of India or somewhere in the north, you must have come across papad at least once in your lifetime. The crunchy and crispy treat that is usually made from lentils, has plenty of other variations coming from different parts of the country. For the unversed, papad is made from a dough of lentils which could be urad dal, black gram bean flour or even chickpeas that is flattened into a round shape and deep-fried until it turns dry and crispy. This is a commonly paired accompaniment for main meals in several Indian households today but the origins of papad can be traced back to some 500 BC. Jain literature highlights the existence of papads made from urad and chana dal in the accounts of food historian, KT Achaya.
Interestingly, papads have more than one purpose for ages. The Rajasthani papad ki subzi is proof. A crispy dish made with crushed papads and yoghurt, the papad ki subzi is full of spices like peanut powder, cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric powder, mustard seeds and more. This dish can be eaten with either roti or rice and adds a crunchy texture to the entire meal. Although the fan fare for this dish is limited to areas in and around Rajasthan, if you’re in the city you cannot miss the crunchy papad dunked in a yoghurt and tomato gravy.
What’s more fascinating to note is that papads aren’t simply a side dish but hold much more importance, since the last 1500 years. They have served as an important donation in 1915 when tins of papad were collected for the Indian soldiers at war, as reported by Times of India. In fact, even during the launch of the air services in India, it was reported by TOI that betel nuts and mangoes, along with papads formed the first consignment. The Indian craze for papad reached the US when the authorities seized packets of papad and pickles from the airport after 9/11.
Being such an essential part of our meals and lives, Rajasthani papad ki subzi is a great ode to this crunchy snack. Here’s a recipe of this regional delicacy that you can try at home.