The Poppadom Posse

It’s summer and my mum is waiting for the hot days to arrive so that she can make her year’s supply of poppadoms. This dying tradition that my mother so duly carries out reminds me so much of youth.

My grandmother used to have “poppadom parties”. A group of 8-10 ladies, in their 50s and 60s, would arrive with their rolling pin and stands and sit down to roll out hundreds of poppadoms. My grandfather used to make the dough which was stirred in a very large saucepan on a high heat and I along with any other youngsters were commissioned to be the dryers.

Drying involved carefully balancing the rolled poppadom on a rolling pin and then laying it a flat as possible on cloth under the sun. Our family would use old saris and the 5 1/2 yards of fabric would be covered in neatly rolled poppadoms. At the end of the day, the poppadoms would be dry. They would then be collected, wiped and stored in air tight containers ready to cook and eat.

I always found these days intriguing. Whilst I got very tired of being the dryer, I soon found entertainment in societal/family history and gossip. Inevitable they mostly around mother-in-law/daughter-in-law tribulations until the day when a couple of girls were found smoking behind the bike sheds at school and then one was dating a black guy. For the ladies who had come to roll poppadoms, this was the beginning of the demise of their culture. Britain had invaded their community and influenced their girls.

Today, the poppadom posse is smaller with about 4 or 5 women coming to roll but the women still enjoy their time spent together catching up on family and community gossip. The young no longer get involved in this small manufacturing of poppadoms which is a shame as I feel extremely privileged to be a part of a tradition that went from India to Kenya to England.

In years to come, the tradition will die out as the convenience of buying poppadoms in a supermarket becomes much more appealing, but for now, my mum is waiting for those hot days.


One Comment to “The Poppadom Posse”

  1. I didn’t know that people even made poppadoms, Bunty! I feel like my niece who told me with a disgusted face that milk came from supermarkets not cows.

    Sounds like a lovely tradition but yes, who would be bothered now? I’m sure the social side of it will still take place but just over a different aspect of our life or simply over coffee.

    Are you going to make your own and teach your children? I haven’t made them for a while but my mum used to always volunteer to make samosas for Eid parties, knowing that she could rope us (me, my sis and cousins) in as child labour on the production line until we had a workers revolt! Mummy had to promise she wouldn’t offer to make them again and we agreed to make them one last time.

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