Think chips and dip, but different. It’s like tortillas and sour cream went to India and came back gluten-free and vegan–Indian pappadams with creamy curried cashew dip.
Pappadams magically puff up and bubble when fried in oil, toasted on the grill, or, literally, popped in the microwave. The crunchy crackers are made from lentil, chickpea, or rice flour, and are commonly served as bread in southern India. Pappadams as appetizers are unique, get people talking, and pair well with spicy sauces, like this fresh chile and cilantro curry. You can count on them for foodie entertainment.
The easiest way to cook pappadams is in the microwave–in just 30 seconds they inflate from paper-thin wafer into a light and delicate ruffled snack. If you don’t want to use the microwave, toast them over a stovetop flame or fry them in oil as directed on the package. As soon as the entire disk has bubbled and puffed it’s done.
This pale green curried cashew dip is a cinch to make. Plan to soak the cashews in water ahead of time–you can do that the day before and let them soak in the refrigerator. In between cooking the pappadams, sauté shallots and curry powder to puree with the cashews, fresh ginger, and serrano chile. Stir in chopped cilantro at the very end.
I have to tell you, curried cashew dip is more than a scrumptious dip. Spread it generously on thick slices of bread. Thin with water into tasty salad dressing. Two chiles make it fiery; one chile brings pleasant zippy heat—make it as picante as you like. Spicy flavorful curried cashew dip adds gusto to ordinary grain, bean and veggie meals. Whip up a double batch and dress up dinner.
You might see the crispy chips spelled puppodom or pappadum on labels and on Indian restaurant menus. Pappadams come plain or spiced; my favorites are the black pepper speckled ones. Find them in well-stocked grocery stores—check the international sections. Or you can order pappadams online through my Amazon link.
Amaze your friends—puff pappadam and dip away. Chips and dip, but different.
Cashew soaking and blending notes:
Soften cashews by soaking in water so they easily blend into smooth purees. If you have a high speed blender, e.g. Blend-Tec or Vitamix, cashews only need to soak a couple of hours. If using a regular blender, it helps to soak cashews overnight, and it can take up to 3 minutes to puree into smooth and creamy.
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Crazy bubbly puffy pappadams couple perfectly with this creamy spicy vegan dip. Leave the crackers whole and so people can break them into shards themselves, or break them into 3-inch chips before arranging on platters. For added flavor fun, put out a second dunking option; purchased chutney, or a not-too-chunky salsa, for example.
- Plan on 2 or 3 pappadams per person.
- For the dip:
- 1 cup raw cashews, whole or pieces (see note)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 3/4 teaspoon prepared curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon Real Salt
- 1-inch knob fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped, about 1 tablespoon
- 1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped (I used only one)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- For the pappadams:
- Deep-fry, toast over an open flame, or microwave the flat round disks following the cooking instructions on the package. Each method puffs up a little differently: Crackers fried in hot oil expand the most; cooking over an open flame adds a smoky char flavor. For a slightly more sturdy texture, brush the uncooked wafers lightly with oil before cooking in a microwave. Figure 2 or 3 whole pappadams per person.
- For the curried cashew dip:
- Put cashews in a bowl, cover with water and refrigerate. Let soak 2 to 4 hours. (see note)
- Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the shallot and cook and stir until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cumin and cook another minute. Let cool.
- Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Put in a blender. Add lemon juice, salt, ginger, chile, cooled curried shallots and 1/3 cup of the water.
- Blend until very smooth, adding more water, a tablespoon at a time, as needed for a smooth puree. Stop to scrape down the sides of the container.
- Taste and add more salt if you like. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Whole cashews need to soak and soften for more time than cashew pieces.
- Microwave cooking times may vary due to different power wattages. Cook a test pappadam first, and adjust your cooking time accordingly.
- As soon as the entire disk has bubbled and puffed it’s done—any longer, it quickly burns.