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Is it just me, or is papadum and chutney about the best starchy snack you can get before a meal. Think about it: simple bread and butter can be rendered wonderfully, but even at great heights, it can be too filling. Chips and salsa is irresistible in front of Tex-Mex, but can be greasy and heavy and hit your gut like a sack of bricks. Papad and chutney combines the best elements of both: it's starchy like bread, yet wispy and thin, so it's hard to fill up on. Like totopos, or corn chips, papad offers a satisfying crackle when you bite into it, but its far less greasy if cooked correctly. You can eat loads and never get full. The thin crisps also feature their own seasoning in the form of baked in coriander and cracked pepper, and with three chutneys usually available -- sweet tamarind, herbal mint, spicy onion -- they're very customizable. Best of all, like any good starter, papadum prepares your palate with flavors you'll experience throughout your meal.
The papad and chutney at Saffron in West Palm Beach is spectacular -- crisp, airy, greaseless, and full of flavor. It should be a sign of an excellent experience to come, but the consistency at Saffron is questionable. I've had some meals there that were exemplary; curries so well prepared, I could discern each bit of cardamom, nutmeg, and coriander as completely separate elements and part of a greater harmony. Thinking about those spicy, savory stews makes my mouth water. On my latest visit, however, the food took a long dive off a short table.
Read all about it when our review of Saffron debuts tomorrow in dish. For now, I'll take some more papad, please.