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.
A women presses a cutter into the dough, while another peels away the trimmings.
The haapoL, still stuck on the plastic are hung out to dry in the yard.
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.
To see how papads (haapoLu) are made at home, see this post on Aayi’s Recipes
Other Kumta Related Posts:
- Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan
- Kumta: Main Street
- Kumta: Field of Dreams
- Kumta: School Kids
- All posts in Kumta Category