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Papadum bread is a type of Indian cracker bread which can be eaten on its own, like a snack, or served with meals of Indian food. This bread is abundant across India, and in regions of the world with a large population of people from India; regionally, papadum bread often integrates locally available ingredients for a unique take on this traditional bread. Most Indian restaurants offer papadums with their meals, and this bread is also extremely easy to make at home.
In many regions, papadum bread is made with a legume flour, like lentil, chickpea, or black bean flour. In some regions, rice flour is used, and it is also possible to use wheat or other grains for the flour, although some of the characteristic flavor may be lost. The simple dough is made with flour, salt, oil, and enough water to bring the dough together into a smooth mass. Many cooks also add seasonings like various Indian spices to their papadum bread to make it more interesting.
Once the dough is made, it is pulled apart into small chunks which are rolled into balls and then rolled out into round sheets. At this stage, there are a number of options for the papadum bread. It can be deep fried, to make a crispy cracker, or it may be grilled, to create a soft wrap almost like a tortilla. It is also possible to pan fry or microwave papadum dough for different textures.
When eaten as a standalone food, papadum bread is typically dressed with a sauce like a chutney or a raita, and people often like to eat it this way in the crispy form. Papadum bread can also be served with curry, and used as a utensil to scoop up the curry. The bread also helps to cut the spiciness of the curry, which can be useful for people who are unfamiliar with spicy food.
Papadums go by a number of alternate names, including lentil chips, appala, and papari, and the spelling of these names is often inconsistent, as they are transliterated from non-Roman alphabets. In addition to being sold and eaten fresh, papadum bread is also sold in packaged form, in which case it can be eaten cold or reheated. Women in Indian sometimes use the sales of papadum bread and other Indian treats to support themselves, as a papadum business requires minimal investment and it can potentially generate a large return.