Papadums are typically served as an accompaniment to a meal in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka or as an appetizer or snack, sometimes with toppings such as chopped onions, chopped carrots, chutneys or other dips, and condiments. In Pakistan, these are made of rice and often used as a snack or meal accompaniment. In certain parts of India, poppadoms which have been dried, but not cooked, are used in curries and vegetable dishes. Papadums has been a part of the Indian subcontinent for generations and is an intrisic part of everyday meals.
Salt and peanut oil are added to make a dough, which can be flavored with seasonings such as chili, cumin, garlic, or black pepper. Sometimes, baking soda or slaked lime is also added. The dough is shaped into a thin, round flatbread and then dried (traditionally in the sun), and can be cooked by deep frying, roasting over an open flame, toasting, or microwaving, depending on the desired texture.
Papadum can be prepared from different ingredients and methods. Arguably, the most popular recipe uses flour ground from hulled split black gram mixed with black pepper, salt, and a small amount of vegetable oil and a food-grade alkali, and the mixture is kneaded. A well-kneaded dough is then flattened into very thin rounds and then dried and stored for later preparation and consumption. It may also contain rice, Jackfruit, Sabudana, etc., as main ingredients. Cracked black pepper, red chili powder, Asafoetida, or cumin or sesame seeds are often used as flavoring agents.
Papadum is often associated with the empowerment of women in India. Many individual and organized businesses run by women produce papad, pickles, and other snacks. This provides them regular income from minimal financial investments. Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad is an organization (owned and run solely by women) which produces large quantities of papadums on the open market, which started as a small business in the late 1950s, with an annual income in 2005 of about ₹650 crore (US$90 million).