Monday, March 16, 2009

Lijjat Papad -- Karram Kurram


(This post was drafted on Friday but then we had guests staying over the weekend and this never got edited & posted)

I was on my way back home driving and suddenly I hear this voice over NPR saying Papad and Pappadam with a thick accent. Ahhhhh, some new fad of Indian cooking they must have discovered I thought.
And then the news caster went on to talk about Lijjat Papad and I was pleasantly surprised. I had a warm fuzzy feeling driving home in the sun listening about Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, popularly known as Lijjat, completing 50 gloroius years on March 15, 2009.

Representative of a typical middle class Indian Kitchen, my Ma's pantry was always stocked with Lijjat Papad. They were fried to be served with tea when impromptu guets arrived,roasted on fire and served with dal, roasted and crumbled on some sabzi's and sometimes even made into a dish by itself.

That Lijjat was the brain child of seven semi-literate Gujarati housewives from Bombay who wanted to start a venture to create a sustainable livelihood using the only skill they had i.e. cooking, makes me very proud.

We talk about women getting more independence, equality, freedom and I think of myself and these women. Having had the exact same opportunity as any boy would while growing up, having had the same education and starting off a career in a similar role as the husband, today I bring back home less than 2/3rd of his salary not because my employer pays women less but because I chose such a role to enjoy motherhood.

Am I privileged because I have a choice to do so or did I put my freedom to wrong use ?

I do voluntarily contribute more as a parent in our household and I get immense satisfaction of shaping two lives but then again really I haven't achieved even a fraction of what these semi-literate women have.

So what is it that personifies women power? Is it the choice that many educated women like me get today or the financial freedom these semi-literate women (with very little freedom possible in a India 50 years ago) struggled to achieve 50 years ago and have achieved not only financially but also socially by empowering a large population of Indian women


More about history of Lijjat Papad here

To roast a Lijjat Papad, pop one in the MicroWave for about a minute at 100% power.

To fry, deep fry in hot bubbling oil


  1. I have never roasted papad in MW, am gonna try them.

  2. Kudos to the Mahila Gram Udyog for completing 50 years & still goin strong! 50years ago, they would have had to be even more enterprising to be able to develop and market this.
    Same boat as you - chose to take up a job where my hours are more predictable, to be able to make more time for M's nurturing. I think we're lucky folks to be able to do that.

  3. Papad stands for 50 years! I would say everyone don't get the chance to have a flexi job, the salary compensate with kids :)

  4. I really didn't know the history behind the lijjat papad. & my pantry is stocked with bags of papad.. u won't even believe how many as this is a part of a diet plan of my hubby which he created by himself.. & seems like it works! whenever he is hungry he pops a spicy papad in the mw & that seems to satisfy his soul & kill his hunger.

    I serve mine with salsa sometimes:-) your topping reminded me of it.
    i stay home sandeepa, & love my time with kids... would not trade the time for anything.

  5. HC

    It is pretty easy and quick


    Yeah aren't we lucky.


    It is not about the flexi job, more often than not out of choice or whatever I see the women rather than the men taking this decision. Maybe women are by nature more caring, nurturing etc. and so they naturally slide into this role of motherhood and parenting



    Papad Diet, interesting, what exactly is it ?
    That is exactly what I meant, aren't you happy that you have that choice

  6. Looks yum, nice chaat to have. I always bought Lijjat too, before I found Madras style Applam here! :D

    Nice to know that women can be self sufficient and earn some money this way, you get lot of stuff made in India like that in World Market, my fave store to grab all the wooden knichknacks and steel tiffin boxes.

    Just came home from driver's office, got Trisha's "adult" license and my license renewed for 8yrs too. I am so tired after a full weekend, need a nap now. Have a great St'Patrick's day! :)

  7. Well said! The Lijjat Papad story is inspiring and a great example of how small-scale cottage industries can have such a deep and lasting effect on populations that are usually ignored. I love nothing more than to snack on one of these in the middle of the day-- absolutely guilt-free eats!

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  9. I did not know that Lijjat Papad was that old. What a great story. Also looked at Soma's comment on Lijjat diet, popping Lijjat pappad in place of potato chips to satisfy those hunger pangs seems like a great idea. When DD was little DH found a project that he could work on a flexible schedule to spend more time with her. But yup we are lucky to have that choice.

  10. That is an interesting back story - I didn't know the papad forged into a women's empowerment movement.

  11. Yes, those ladies are very admirable indeed :-)

    And yes again, we are indeed lucky to be able to make that choice,I gave up working to look after R and A... completely my own choice...wouldn't have had it any other way.

  12. Lovely story, Sandeepa.

    Soma, I think my husband has chanced on a papad diet, too! It's his snack/starter of choice these days.

  13. I agree - it doesn't matter what a woman chooses to do, its the fact that she has the choice to do what she wants!

    I simply love the paapad when it is liberally strewn with chopped tomatoes and onions, coriander leaves and a dash of chaat masala!

  14. What is Karram Kurram? Somehow papad is one item that never made an appearance in our home, and still doesn't. I do like the supersize papads we get at the Trade Fair, which are smeared with red chilli powder.

  15. lovely post sandeepa.

    i used to travel to bangkok pretty often on work and being a hardcore veggie (no eggs too) i would be ravenous by the end of the day. we'd troop to this desi restaurant (called rang mahal i think) in one of the hotels and i'd find it tough to even wait for the guys to bring our orders, their service was incredibly slow. so papads with coriander chutney would be devoured - in seconds the whole plate would be clean!

    and yay to the lijjat women!

  16. Karrram... Kurraam...Kurrram Karraam....Please do not forget the following hnooo hnooo hnoo by the Bugs Bunny.

    I like Papad in all shapes, sizes,taste and avtaars.... fried, roasted on direct flame or in microwave.

    So kudos to Mahila Griha Udyog.

    On being able to exercise a choice, definitely we are lucky.

    Forget that, I am lucky that I was allowed to be born, lucky that I was not drowned in milk in greed for a male child, lucky for being born in a girls only household and that too in Urban West Bengal, where gender discrimination is perceptibly lower than that in most of the other states. I was lucky to have been born to parents who always believed they were blessed with two daughters....

    I have a son, who I intend to bring up as a human being and not as a boy child. Hence, he knows unlike in friends' houses, he has to do some chores, which his parents are regularly doing.

  17. I do not like spicy papad with all that salt ... but biyer pore have got to know about some great dishes cooked with papad. :-)

  18. Lijjat is the stuff inspirational stories are made of.
    Have you tried semi frying papad by smearing a few drops of oil on either/both sides, then cooking it in the MW? Nice!

  19. i must admit, i like the fried version better. my mom used to some nifty stuff in the microwave where she would half cook the lijjat papad, form it into a cone, cook it some more, and then stuff it with chopped up onions, green mangoes and stuff.

  20. kudos to mahila gram udyog and their determination!
    it's hard to measure one's success. for some it may be money and power and for other it might be happinees and peace of mind! i earn almost same as K but funnily enough it's the money i earn from ads from blogging that makes me really happy. call me weird or silly but i am most happy person on this planet when i donate that money to charity :)
    and coming bk to Lijjat papad, i have very fond memory of it. be it crunching those papads or the ads showed in doordarshan days with bunny puppets :) nostalgia...

  21. Sra

    karram Kurram implies crunchy, doesn't really mean anything. It is from this Lijjat ad with the Bunny aired on DoorDarshan


    It is not about success.
    Just that educated women at a higher socio-economic strata have more choices regarding work outside home or not compared to semi-literate women at the lower socio-economic strata. If you see, these women are anyway forced to work to eke out a living but are not really independent when it comes to other areas

    I am sure many men do that and stay at home dads are not uncommon either. I am just saying on a larger scale women are more comfortable with their choice of taking a larger role in parenting and sacrificing career for the same. And they also have the choice to do so.
    Very few men get that choice.

  22. BWM

    I guess in some terms we are luckier than the men too

  23. Lijjat papad is one that never disappoints when microwaved... I always have a pack handy.

    Btw, just read your Mommy of 2 series - love it :)

  24. Sandeepa,
    thats a one real,empowering story and thanks for sharing it with us ...
    My lil one loves amaar papod chayi and thokhon kicho bola jaye bolo !!
    arey! that was a very famous ad..
    karram- kurram , mazedar, lazzeddar , swad swad mein lizzat-2 papad !! very funny with that bunny!!
    very well written about these women , quite right there , we have some choice and there are many who doesn't ....i think freedom and oppurtunity comes pricy sometimes....many sacrifices and adjustment also ...God knows how much opposition these women must have faced when they started out 50 years back ....but they didn't give up ..and thats the spirit is, all we need ...never give up!!
    hugs and smiles

  25. My pantry is always stocked with lijjat papad. I love it !!

  26. I adore those women behind Lijjat pappad. U have created lotsa thought waves by this post Sandeepa. I was enjoying otherhood for the past 7 years by choosing a low profile job. But when I took up a better role still I long fo the old days wherein I can spend more time with my kids. Sometimes I need to reach home late and get back to office early and it would be two full days that I owuld not talk to my kids. I sometimes very much hate this life.

  27. Sorry Sandeepa, I have to disagree. In my mind men have more choice or equal choice as women do. It feels good to say we made the choice instead of the choice being forced upon us.

    But in the end it all comes down to economics. Some women do have to work some don't in the same vein some men absolutely have to some don't and it is easy because they are not expected to not work.

    I just don't want to take away the hardships faced by a lot of women because a few have a choice.


  28. Indo

    I do agree with your view. As I said to Sia, I see that women in the lower socio-economic strata of the society have no choice and most of the time have to work to eke out a living. Like say the girl who helps my Mom with housework in India, her husband is an alcoholic and doesn't work, it is totally her responsibility to make a living, educate he sons etc. Same is the case with many, many more women who are semi-literate and from a lower income section.

    In the mid level socio-economic strata as I see it, the women have more choices. Inspite of their education many women do not work to their full potential or sometimes do not work at all. It is a choice that they make independently or jointly with their spouses. I have not seen many men exercising that choice.

    One reason could obviously be because a Mother is supposed to be the primary care giver, by default she gets the privilege to choose being at home with the children

    But I have not seen many women (unless they are very successful in their own career) comfortable with the idea that their husband gives up the job and stays with the kids instead of them.Either they don't trust them with it or don't want to let go of the enjoyment that comes with parenting.
    And that is why I think men at these level do not have that choice, how they would exercise it is a different discussion

    Again there are always exceptions.

    Would love to hear your point of view, no war here :D


  29. Nirmala

    Don't feel bad. You did bond with them for 7 years. And as long as they have one parent, grand parent or some family to talk to it should be fine.


  30. Indo

    And let me correct myself when I say "choice" -- it is only limited to "working outside home" or "not working outside home"

    I am not talking about choices regarding anything else here.


  31. Sandeepa, I don't have an argument with exercising the choices that one has, be that man or woman. I do have a problem when you say that men don't have as much choice as women. In fact they do.

    Here again women who have that choice and are forced into that choice either because of steretypes which suggest men are not made to be care givers or women themselves out of guilt. You are calling it privilege I would call it duty.

    I would say choice will be more or equal for women only when the spouses deciding who is going to be the primary caregiver can decide the outcome on the toss of a coin.

    Men it seems to me conveniently take advantage of the stereotypes and women suffer by it.

  32. I get your point, I agree there is a stereotyping there


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