Note: Black gram flour and asafoetida can be found in most Indian specialty markets.
About the author: Denise Dsilva Sankhe is a writer & creative director by profession. But that's only when she isn't eating her way across India. She recreates this delicious cuisine in her Mumbai home, which she shares with her husband, who has long since given up his determination to have salads for dinner.
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- 1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) urad daal (black gram flour, see note above)
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (see note above)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil divided
In a mixing bowl, combine black gram flour, cumin seed, baking soda, asafoetida, black pepper, and a large pinch of kosher salt. Add half of water and work into mixture with hands. Gradually add more water until the dough just holds together. Gradually add the oil and knead into a very stiff dough. Cover and set aside for at least two hours.
Remove from bowl and knead with greased hands until it is very pliable, about 5 minutes. Using a tablespoon measure, divide into 12 to 15 small balls. Roll each ball into very thin rounds with a rolling pin on a lightly oiled surface. The rounds should be evenly thin and about 6 inches in diameter.
Space the dough rounds on rimmed baking sheets and dry in direct sunlight until totally dry, 24 to 48 hours. Alternatively, dry in the oven at the lowest possible heat for 4 to 6 hours, or in a dehydrator. Store the dry papads in an airtight container for up to 6 months. To serve, heat directly over an open flame or gas grill until lightly toasted. Alternatively, preheat broiler to high and broil until lightly toasted.