Kumta: Girls Making Papad

girls making papad in rural Kumta
I look forward to visiting Kumta, our ancestral home along the konkan coast. Lush green fields, coconut tree groves, red mud roads where lazy cows have the right of way. A place where I can speak konkani all over town.

Strolling through someone’s orchards, I came upon a small cinder-block shed buzzing with activity. Inside were a group of young girls busy making papad (konkani: haapoL). The girls were churning out hundreds of papad right before my eyes. Apparently one of the women had gotten a small loan, and started selling papad and other konkani foods to local restaurants and grocery stores.

An older maam was tending an industrial blender in the corner, making the haapLa piTh (papad dough). Then, in a smoothly running assembly, small dough rolls were hand kneaded, flattened and fed in a powered roller, resulting in a long thin wafer of dough placed on a strip of plastic sheeting. Other girls immediately attacked it with papad-cutters (sharp-edged round plates; see lady in blue saree has one in her hand) and trimmed the edges. Trimmings went back in the dough mixer The plastic sheeting was hung out in the sun and after they had partially dried, the papads were gently removed and allowed to dry further on straw mats.

The girls operated flawlessly. The entire time, the girls were smiling and joking with each other (and giggling – surprised to see me showing an interest and taking pics). They offered me some of the haapLa piTh for tasting; this is a delicacy and you can only get it wherever haapoLs are made. They make other konkani foods depending on demand and requests. I ordered 300 haapoL/papad to bring back to Boston.

Later that afternoon, one of the women brought the freshly made haapoL/papad to our home. The cost was a fraction of what I would pay here in the US. It was not the price, as much as supporting these young women in their enterprise. They probably use the money to buy food, school supplies and support their family.

Notice how happy and content the girls look. Everyone seems enthused to be there working, earning some money in this bare cinder-block shed, with not a chair in site. Next time you buy haapoL from Kumta, or other home enterprise, you are supporting such hardworking girls.

HaapaLa piTh being fed through a roller yielding the long wafer.
girls making papad in rural Kumta

A women presses a cutter into the dough, while another peels away the trimmings.
girls making papad in rural Kumta

The haapoL, still stuck on the plastic are hung out to dry in the yard.
girls making papad in rural Kumta

After a few hours in the blazing sun, the haapoL fall off; they are collected and spread on straw mats to dry to a crisp.
girls making papad in rural Kumta

To see how papads (haapoLu) are made at home, see this post on Aayi’s Recipes

Other Kumta Related Posts:


  1. jayesh bari says:

    This is amazing production and new inovation in papad manufacturing ,
    please send us more information about papad making machine

  2. Prashant Nayak says:

    Been a long time since I have visited my Home town. Yes Kumta surely is THE BEST. Calm, peaceful, natural. I miss my home town a lot

  3. Oh this is amazing! I totally respect these fabulous young women. I am sure they are scrumptious which is enough for me! Also, after some of the restaurant in the USA, this doesn’t make me apprehensive at all. :) Let’s eat!

    • Thank you Gabi,
      I was just there last month and the group of women has changed, but the papad making is in full swing.
      They make great (low calorie) appetizers in our home.

  4. really pics and the videos are awesome….

  5. zarina clowsley says:

    What an interesting blog..I sooo enjoy reading your posts and seeing the pictures. No one opens my eyes to my own country as you do. Thank much.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Its an amazing country and I am fortunate I get a chance to chronicle the beautiful lives of the people.

      Browse the many posts.

  6. Ramprasad says:

    Dear Mr. arun shanbhag

    Im from Andhrapradesh Hyderabad, i may have plesure to receive more information about papad making. my e mail adresses

    awaiting your reply


  7. daer mr arun shanbhag

    i may have plesure to receive machine manufactrer adresses for papad making photo in konkan area, my e mail adresses

    awaiting your reply
    thanking you
    naresh joshi

    • Naresh ji:
      I am currently sitting in Boston and unable to get you more details on the papad making machine.
      But i will get you a contact who may be able to help you. Please check back with me in a few weeks.

      Thank you for your interest.

  8. Yeah, thnx arun…. i’ve cn dat school, perhaps my maternal cousins were studyin dere… i guess u got me wrong, im still doin my engineering,still ve 2 go half the way… anyway, its really nice chatting wid u, wil catch u in orkut if u r dere…….

  9. Hi Ramnath:
    Congratulations on your graduation!

    I go to Kumta very often, atleast once a year. I was just there (and got papads from Mukund) in July!

    We do a lot of work with the Konkan Education Trust. See this link and follow the links in the post. Perhaps you can contribute to a scholarship for needy students too.

    Looking forward to meeting you at some time.
    Best Wishes,

  10. i wuld lik to but actually my native s karwar n rightnow im in b’lore for my graduation. So, dis gonna b ur visit after 6 years??? u ll find some interesting changes….

  11. Hi Ramnath:
    Thank you for sharing your comment here.
    We have a home in Chitrigi and live about two houses from Mukund’s house. That’s how I know them and the women who make papads? Are you currently in Kumta? We should meet when I visit there in a few months. :-)

  12. hi arun,

    quite interestin blog arun, the 1 who s makin papads dere s my mami, how do u know her????

  13. Thank you Shilpa:
    The contraptions looked very simple and I am certain it is not very expensive. Yaay! More Papads!

    Arun anna (Yaay!) you don’t realize how great that makes me feel :-))

  14. I have to tell about this papad making procedure to mami(my neighbor).Will ask aayi to show it to mami. She makes it hard way by rolling them by hand. This one looks very easy. Thanks for the lovely post Arunanna(and I found out the relation..hehe)

  15. Thank you Pratibha for your kind words!

    Wonderful to see another Kumta-kar (or Kumta-ite, if you prefer).

    The Aghanashini delta is such a beautiful place. You are lucky. Did you know Shilpa (aayis receipes) from before; Also, check out Maya’s Konkan World food blog (on my “Food to live for” Listing on the right). She is from Baad!

    What are you upto these days and where? :-)

  16. Pratibha says:


    Your blog is very nostalgic. I’m from Kumta, actually Teppa 2 kms from Chitragi towards Aghanashini (it is on the banks of Aghanashine delta and very picturique). I remember the summer days we would make happala at home. Now this has become the industry and I’m glad about that. Your pictures and well written essays bring back the fond memories. Thanks for doing a wonderful job.

  17. Sia! Thanks
    This is one of my favorite posts!
    These women are amazing.
    We still go to them and pickup Papads from them!
    will visit them again later this week. :-)
    Enjoy your travels

  18. how did i miss this post!!!! fabulous pics arun.


  1. […] Young Women Making Papads in Kumta […]

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  6. […] Kumta: Girls Making Papad and Part-2 […]

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  8. […] Kumta: Girls Making Papad & Part-2 […]

  9. […] Kumta: Girls Making Papad & Part-2 […]

  10. […] visiting Kumta I went back to the little shack where I had earlier seen young women making papad (writeup and pics). I was glad to see that this little cinderblock workshop was still active, and women came together […]

  11. […] visiting Kumta I went back to the little shack where I had earlier seen young women making papad (writeup and pics). I was glad to see that this little cinderblock workshop was still active, and women came together […]

  12. […] Young Women Making Papads in Kumta […]

  13. […] Young Women Making Papads in Kumta […]

  14. […] Young Women Making Papads in Kumta […]

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  16. […] Young Women Making Papads in Kumta […]

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