Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Snack and a Read Before Dinner - Pappadum and Darjeeling

Sometimes you just don’t feel like sitting at the computer, staring at a bright screen, maintaining perfect posture so your back doesn’t buckle and your elbows don’t freeze at 90 degree angles. Sometimes you just want to plop your tense, tired tuckus into the coziest corner of the house as far away from technology as possible. This is the time when nothing but tea and a book will do, a real live physical book with paper pages, a bendable binding and a formal frontispiece. Making the decision to pull away from the PC is easy enough; deciding what to read, however, is very, very hard. We own a lot of books. I mean, A LOT of books. Don’t ask me how many, but they dominate the condo. We made a special pilgrimage to IKEA in a rented van so we could haul home the tallest Billy bookcases we could find. We need more. Bookcases, that is. We don’t need more books, but they are on their way, too. There are pending purchases in our Amazon shopping cart as long as the Nile; trips to Barnes and Noble where we break oaths not to tarry; and the heady wheel-of-fortune site What Should I Read Next?

Which leads me to that cozy corner where I have assembled a late afternoon snack of pepper-shot pappadum and a tall glass of iced Darjeeling chai tea. I have finally narrowed down my selections. Will it be Eric Ambler’s “A Coffin for Dimitrios”? Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”? Or “The Mysterious Mr. Quin,” the only Agatha Christie work I own and love, a one-off of short stories featuring an elusive, wise and altruistic phantom, never to be written about again? It’s getting late, and I will soon have to start thinking about what to make for dinner tonight. I will quickly read a Quin story, "The World’s End." I snuggle in, sip my tea and crack open the paperback. Hmmmm. What have we here? A bookmark from Borders. I forgot about Borders. You know what that means?

Iced Darjeeling Chai Tea


2 Darjeeling teabags or equivalent loose tea
4 cups water brought just to boil
(You can adjust level of tea strength by adding more tea, using less water, or steeping longer)
4 green cardamom ponds
4 whole cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon, broken


Pour boiling water into teapot or other vessel over the tea and spices. Steep at least 5 minutes, longer for stronger tea. Strain into a room temperature glass and chill ten minutes in refrigerator. Fill another glass with ice and transfer luke warm tea into it. Add sugar and/or milk to your taste. Makes approximately 3 servings.

Pappadum are rarely made by the home cook, but purchased in their uncooked state like popcorn. Like popcorn, the thin, flat lentil wafers need to be cooked via roasting or frying. Pappadum can be found in Indian grocers or larger cosmopolitan supermarkets like Whole Foods.

I have both fried them in oil and roasted them in a microwave. Frying requires a great deal of speed and caution to regulate the hot oil. I was very pleased with the effortless microwave results; they were light, extra crispy and free of grease. The link above provides all the cooking options.

Williamson's Elephant Tin Darjeeling


  1. Oh, I love the elephant tin! After such a lovely late-afternoon snack of tea and pappadum, I'd probably treat myself to a nap, with an open book on my lap.

  2. An elephant HAS to be pink, and pigs MUST have wings!

  3. Hey Susan. I love that shot of the tea and books. To me, there are few things more beautiful than stacks and stacks of books, which also means that bookstores are quite dangerous places. That is, they are dangerous to my bank account.

    Happy Monday.

  4. Thanks, Christina. Books certainly are dangerous to the bank account; that's what makes Amazon so appealing, the discounts. Amazon, however, is not half the fun as meandering through the aisles and tables at a real store. BTW, Lydia of The Perfect Pantry (also commenter on this post) has a "Bookworm" feature on her blog. You may want to check it out. My selections will be posted May 19. Hope you had a good weekend.

  5. Susan - Like Christina, I love the shot of your tea and pappadums before a tower of books. I love seeing your row of bookcases, too. There is almost nothing more comforting than seeing rows of books in a house - well, that and something aromatic wafting from the kitchen, but that goes without saying. I see in the comment you left for Christina that you have a book list, so I am going to read that now.....

  6. Hi, Shaun. A bibliophile Flickr group found that photo and asked to have it added to their photo set. Too funny. I have to say, though, more people saw it through them than here.