Watch | What makes handmade pappadams so special?


Did you know that the pappadam is integral to any sadya in Kerala? 

That’s right! Crisp, hot pappadams, all puffed up, are a must for any sadya, especially for the grand Onam feast. 

Though machine-made pappadams have mostly captured the market, these handmade pappadams are still a hit. 

Thiruvananthapuram has many entrepreneurs who sell handmade pappadams. 

This is Retnamma R, a traditional pappadam maker in the city. 

She runs a pappadam unit with her husband, V Gopalakrishnan, at their home at Valiyasala. 

It is a treat to watch her shaping small portions of dough, each the size of a tennis ball, into perfect circles. 

She says usually she makes 700-800 pappadams every day, but during Onam it can go up to 1,000 or even more. 

This shop at Karamana Junction, named Karamana Pappadam, was started by Viswanatha Bhattar 80 years ago. It is now managed by his son, V Purushothaman 

He says they use 30 to 35 kilograms of urad dal flour every day to make pappadams. 

Each employee makes 20 to 25 bundles with 100 pappadams each. An experienced hand makes 30 to 35 bundles. 

How are pappadams made? 

Ingredients of pappadam dough are urad dal, pappada kaaram (alkaline salt) and salt. Instead of pappada kaaram, baking soda is used these days. 

Mixing of the dough has been mechanised. The dough is further kneaded and stretched by hand to make it soft. 

Small portions of dough are rolled into medium-sized pappadams. 

After making around 100 pappadams, they stack them and keep pressing down with the hand. 

It has to be done in such a way that the size of the pappadams get bigger. 

The pappadams have to be properly dusted with flour (usually a mix of rice flour and maida) so that they don’t stick together 

After that the pappadams are dried under the sun for 15 to 30 minutes. 

When it rains, they dry them on jute sacks. 

Pappadams have a shelf life of three to five days; they can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks or so. 

Handmade pappadams are priced higher than machine-made ones. 

The rates of handmade pappadams vary according to the size. It starts from ₹ 120 for 100 pappadams and can go up to ₹250-300 for bigger ones. 

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