Papad-Why This Traditional Food Is Beneficial?

Papad is a traditional Indian food not just limited to the south of India but also extensively included in the daily menu in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat etc. This accompaniment also extends to the neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangaladesh.

Papad is considered an accompaniment to the daily dal rice-sambar rice menu. However it is a “high-salt” food that can increase your blood pressure or retain water and in turn cause weight gain. So the food manufacturers are cashing on to these marketing gimmicks to sell “diet” papads or “salt-free” papads etc.

Have we ever sat back and thought if papads are really beneficial to us and why did your grandmas served it to us if they were actually unhealthy? Is there a way to make and eat them or should we consider the new age ones to suit our current lifestyle? Below is our Expert opinion on the traditional papads and the benefits we reap by including them.

Papad and the varieties

Papad is a thin, crispy wafer basically made out of flour or paste. The base of this varies according to the geographical location. It could be made of rice flour or urad dal or chickpea or potato or sabudana or raw jackfruit etc. The taste of the same obviously varies based on the basic ingredient. Seasoning and flavours can also vary according to the individual’s taste and the region of preparation. They are sun dried to remove the moisture entirely and stored and used for months to years.

Benefits of incorporating papad

Our grandmothers were not able to quote any scientific research papers or use terms like superfoods or flavonoids. However, they made us relish the taste of papad when we ate our meal with them.They surely understood the benefits of them and we never mostly cared to ask them the logic behind it. So here we list a few of those health benefits of including papad:

  • They are gluten free, low calorie, high protein, high fibre accompaniment or snack. Can be enjoyed by any age group at any time of the day.

  • Papad can be an appetizer for a healthy sumptuous meal.

  • These can be a trustworthy prebiotic (promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut) that supports digestion and assimilation of the macro and micronutrients from your food.

  • Papad acts as a digestive by enhancing the secretion of digestive enzymes and juices which are essential for metabolism.

How to include papads?

Traditionally papads were used with a meal as an accompaniment. Papads were mostly deep fried in fresh oil during winters and monsoons or kept it light by roasting it on open flame during summers. In few parts of the country, they are also garnished with fresh raw salad vegetables to enhance the taste and enjoyed as a mid-meal snack.

Should we or should we not eat papad in today’s world?

In today’s world we tend to microwave it or air-fry it to ‘limit’ the oil intake and give it a ‘diet-version’ or ‘fat-free’ tag. Is this good? Large scale manufactures use judicious amounts of trans fat to make them crisp and tasty. Excess amounts of preservatives are also added. Because of these ingredients, papads are considered unhealthy and bad for hypertension and heart health. Plus, these manufacturers promote you to use microwave. The radiations further increase free radicals making them just as bad as any other commercially processed food.

Instead, buy papads from small scale cottage industries or women who make them at home if you cannot make it yourself. They neither have expensive preservatives nor any high-end technology to sophisticate them further. Keep it simple. Deep fry it in fresh oil or open roast it to keep it light. Have it with your main meal or by the side to your tea or coffee. Enjoy this traditional food for the numerous health benefits they provide. Remember ‘moderation’. Even the best of foods can turn harmful if overdone.

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