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How to make Masala Poppadoms

Leave it to the Mumbaiites to come up with something this simple and addictive. Poppadums are lentil wafers, usually found in the supermarket aisle with the Asian goods. Of course, any crisp cracker will do but poppadum flavors are unique. You want to buy them sun-dried but uncooked. When flame toasted, they acquire a smoky quality that I find complements a spicy onion spread. In season, try incorporating unripe mango into the spread for a more sour experience (my favorite) that also cuts down on the heat from the chiles. You can also break off pieces of poppadum and use them
to scoop up a favorite dip. I served the one here made with avocado and pomegranate at my Thanksgiving table and all my friends uttered “sexy!” It was, I agreed, with that light green background of buttery avocado perked up with plump, juicy, and succulent teardrops of ruby red pomegranate seeds. If you can’t choose whether to make the spread or dip, well then, make both.
How to make Masala Poppadoms (Step-by-Step) || Masala Poppadoms


Ingredients:


FOR THE POPPADUMS
  • 6 or 12 uncooked lentil wafers (poppadums), each at least'
  • 6 inches in diameter (before cooking; see Extra Credit)

FOR THE CHILE-SPIKED ONION
  • 1⁄2 cup finely chopped red onion.
  • 1 medium-size tomato, cored and finely chopped.
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems or 2 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded, finely chopped (do not remove the seeds).
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt.

FOR THE AVOCADO POMEGRANATE DIP
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds.
  • 1⁄4 cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems.
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt.
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped.
  • 3 large cloves garlic.
  • 2 to 3 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded.
  • 3 large ripe Hass avocados.
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds.

1. If you are using a gas stove, set the flame of a burner at medium-high. Holding 1 poppadum with a pair of tongs, flip it back and forth over the open flame until bumps start to appear on the surface and the poppadum turns light brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remember to shift the tongs to toast the part initially covered by them. Repeat with the remaining poppadums. Set them aside to cool.

If you are using an electric stove, broiling is a great option. Place a rack as close as possible to the heating element, and preheat the broiler to high. Toast the poppadums until bumps appear on the surface and they turn light brown, 1 to 2 minutes. There is no need to turn them. Set them aside to cool. Microwaving poppadums on high power for 30 seconds to 1 minute is also an option.
2. The poppadums will turn crisp and brittle as they cool. You can
store them in airtight plastic zip-top bags at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (but I bet they will be gone long before that).

3. To assemble the topping, combine the onion, tomato, cilantro, and chiles in a medium-size bowl. Just before serving, stir in the salt. Salting the “salsa” ahead and letting it sit for a while results in a pool of liquid at the bottom of the bowl, an unwanted result that will render the poppadums soggy.

4. To make the dip, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot (when you hold the palm of your hand close to the bottom of the skillet you will feel the heat), usually after 2 to 4 minutes, add the coriander and cumin seeds and toast them, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until they start to crackle and turn reddish-brown and the aroma is highly nutty fragrant
with citrus undertones, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer the seeds to a small heatproof bowl or plate to cool. Once cool, place the coriander and cumin seeds in a spice grinder (you can also use a coffee grinder) and grind the blend to the consistency of finely ground black pepper.

5. Place the cilantro, lime juice, salt, onion, garlic, and chiles in the
bowl of a food processor and, using the pulsing action, mince the blend. Letting the processor run constantly will create an unwanted chunky puree, full of liquid. 

6. Pit, peel, and cut the avocado into ¼-inch cubes (see Extra Credit, Place the avocado in a medium-size bowl and fold in the cilantro mixture, spice blend, and pomegranate seeds. Transfer the dip to a pretty serving bowl. If you are planning on serving the avocado dip later, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the dip’s surface, making sure there are no air bubbles in between the wrap and the surface (this slows down the dip from oxidizing and turning a wee bit black). You can store the dip in the refrigerator
for up to 2 days.

7. To serve, if you are making the spiked onion, place 6 poppadums
on a large pretty platter. Evenly divide the onion topping among them, spreading it over the surface of each. If you are making the dip, place the poppadums in a cloth-lined basket with the dip alongside.


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