Thursday, May 22, 2008

Delicious: Papad at Desi Bazaar

This is alchemy -- buying a $1.49 package that can sit in your pantry, then creating crisp, peppery crackers in minutes by
dangling them over a gas range.

Papad is the crispy, peppery cracker that many Indian restaurants serve as an appetizer or even offer to each table like bread and butter.

You can buy them at the Indian grocery Desi Bazaar in Columbia for $1.49 per package. They're soft, thin discs, studded with pepper. Pull one out. Clip it with tongs, then hold it
vertically over a gas burner. The edges wrinkle. The entire disc breaks out in tiny bumps. A few spots scorch or even catch fire for an instant. Toast every part, then put it on a plate. In seconds, it will be room temperature and so crisp that it shatters under a fingertip.

We ate them for dinner with samosas ($1 each) sold right near the front counter. (Heat at 450 degrees for 6-10 minutes.) You could eat papad as a snack or serve them with drinks. Easy to make ahead, or high drama to toast with your guests in the kitchen. And if you can cook Indian food, they would be an authentic way to start the meal.

(Update: The proprietor at Apna Bazar in Laurel -- address here in the list of markets -- taught me to microwave the papad. Put one on a plate. Microwave for a minute or two. They're delicious, and they're easy. You cook them one at a time and can pile them on a plate.)

Desi Bazaar -- a profile of Desi
9179 Red Branch Rd # H
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 997-8400

NEAR: This is in a commercial area off Rte 108 just east of Rte 29. You can't see anything from Rte 108. You turn north onto Red Branch Road, and Desi Bazaar is in a commercial building on the right. The parking is actually before the store, so we had to U-turn and go back.

There is another Indian store on Red Branch Road, but it was even harder to figure out where to park. I had frozen food in my car, so I go in.

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