Poppadums with Chile- Spiked Onion or Avocado

Poppadums with Chile- Spiked Onion or Avocado

Poppadums with Chile-Spiked Onion or Avocado Pomegranate Dip
Masala Poppadums

  Leave it to the Mumbaiites to come up with something this simple and additive. Poppadums are lentil wafers, usually found in the supermarket aisle with the Asian goods. Of course any crisp cracker will do but poppadum fl avors are unique. You want to buy them sun-dried but uncooked. When fl ame toasted, they acquire a smoky quality that I fi nd 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.


Poppadums with Chile

  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.
SERVES
Time
6 Poppadums2 minutes


Ingredients :

FOR THE POPPADUMS :

  1. 6 or 12 uncooked lentil wafers (poppadums), each at least
  2. 6 inches in diameter (before cooking; see Extra Credit)

FOR THE CHILE-SPIKED ONION  :

  1. 1⁄2 cup fi nely chopped red onion
  2. 1 medium-size tomato, cored and fi nely chopped
  3. 1⁄4 cup fi nely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  4. 1 or 2 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded, fi nely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
  5. 1⁄2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt

FOR THE AVOCADO POMEGRANATE DIP :

  1. 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  2. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  3. 1⁄4 cup fi rmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  4. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
  6. 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  7. 3 large cloves garlic
  8. 2 to 3 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded
  9. 3 large ripe Hass avocados
  10. 1⁄2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds or red raspberries

Instructions :

1- If you are using a gas stove, set the fl ame of a burner at medium-high. Holding 1 poppadum with a pair of tongs, fl ip it back and forth over the open fl ame until bumps start to appear on the surface and the poppadum turns light brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remember to shift the tongs in order 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 fi nely 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 . 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

Extra Credit :

• Southern Indians call them poppadums. The rest of the nation refers to them as papads. Whatever they’re called, these wafer-thin crackers made with various lentil fl ours are a must in every household in India. A great snack and a good substitute for bread, they are often fl avored with cumin, garlic, black pepper, cayenne, or green chiles. Regional preferences usually dictate which lentil fl our is used to prepare the poppadums. Poppadums are also made with tapioca pearls, rice fl our, and even potato starch. The Sindhis from northwestern India will welcome you with a glass of water and airily crisp poppadums. They can be fl ame toasted, broiled, or cooked in a microwave. Or they can be fried or baked.
• Commercially prepared poppadums usually contain a spice called asafetida, which has a bit of wheat fl our mixed in. So for someone who has severe wheat gluten allergies, these are not gluten free. You do have to watch out for the hidden ingredients.
• If your market doesn’t sell poppadums, spread the Chile-Spiked Onion on crisp tostada shells. Serve the Avocado Pomegranate Dip with Plantain Chips or store-bought kettlecooked potato chips.
• Hass avocados are widely available in the supermarkets here in the United States. Dark green with a blackish exterior hue, these buttery fruits, rich in nutrients, are sold throughout the year. If possible, this is the variety to choose. If you are not planning on using them immediately, pick the ones that are lighter green and very fi rm to the touch. They do ripen quickly at room temperature once you get them home (they will feel soft to the touch and the skin does darken as they mature). To cut the fruit, place it fi rmly within the palm of one hand. Using a paring knife, cut all around the fruit lengthwise, slicing it in half—don’t worry about the knife boring through as the hard pit in the center will prevent that from happening. Set the knife down and twist the halves in opposite directions to get a clean break, which leaves the pit wedged securely in one half. Steady the pit half with one hand and use a chef’s knife to carefully whack the pit so the knife gets wedged in it. Twist your hand to loosen the pit and remove it in one clean sweep from the avocado half. Smack the knife handle against the edge of a garbage can, allowing the pit to fall freely into its newfound home. Now you can either peel the avocado or, using the paring knife, score the avocado pulp into the desired cube size. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon, leaving behind a clean, hollowed skin and perfectly cut chunks of umami-rich avocado.
• Freezing the dip is a great way to make it even 2 months ahead of when you plan to use it. The pomegranate can get a little squishy and slightly rubbery when thawed. If you wish, you can freeze the dip without the pomegranate (or raspberries) and fold those in when it is thawed.
• When pomegranates are in season, many supermarkets and larger grocery stores sell the seeds already removed from the fruit. You do pay a premium for these but if convenience is your shtick then it is worth it. I often buy pomegranates by the case, usually 6 (fi rm, all hues of red, applelike, and each with its glorious crown stem), and peel the fruit to get to the seeds while watching the news or listening to some music. It takes about an hour of my time but then I am rewarded (and especially so is my son) with a gigantic bowl of juicy, nutty, succulent, ruby red seeds that both of us can eat by the spoonful. (Yes, the seeds are edible.) To get the seeds and pulp out of a pomegranate, here’s what I do: I cut the fruit in half lengthwise, and then cut each half again in half lengthwise. Working with one quarter at a time, I turn it inside out over a deep bowl, so the seeds and fl esh are pushed out, like a puffed-up chest. Using my fi ngers, I cajole the juicy red seeds out into the bowl, discarding the thin off-white membranes that house them.
• Grill, broil, or pan sear a piece of wild salmon or halibut from the Pacifi c Northwest, and slather on some of the avocado dip for a simple dinner.
• You can use some leftover dip (I frankly cannot imagine you having any) as a spread for a sandwich and layer the bread with any toppings that fancy your taste. Smoked meats, cheeses, and grilled vegetables are particularly good.

Other recipes Side Dishes : Here
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