*If you have not read my “Appam Chronicles”(http://jaznajalil.com/2014/06/30/appam-chronicles/ )….please do so before reading this…. Helps with the continuity…
So, you know from an earlier post how I learnt to make these delightful rice and coconut lace-hoppers . Half my pregnancy was spent in appam-making, failing and then perfecting.
Appams are a well-loved and popular breakfast food in a Kerala (state in southern India). My earlier post on them led to some people asking for a recipe.
At this point, I would never call myself an expert. I am still in the process of perfecting “my recipe”. This is not my mum’s recipe.Or my mum-in law’s. This is a recipe to obtain appams the way I like them to be. You can play around with the proportions of the ingredients to get different types of appams (softer, crispier, with brown undersurface….)
If you have never eaten an appam, I suggest you try one. Eat it with meat curries, stews, chickpea gravy, potato curry, sugar, jam; any accompaniment actually.
Ingredients are few and simple (makes about 12 medium sized appams)
1 ½ cups white rice
3/4th cup freshly grated coconut
1/4th cup cooked rice (preferably white)
1 heaped teaspoon salt
1 cup water (to blend)
1/4th teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Step 1:- Preparing yourself and the ingredients
Prepare yourself. Be confident. Do not be afraid of failure (otherwise I promise you, your batter won’t rise!). And seek blessings from the elders (especially the appam experts).
Prepare the ingredients. You will need some white rice. Raw white rice (“paccha ari/arisi”), ponni rice or if abroad and cannot find these, even long-grained rice like basmati will work. The par-boiled variety doesn’t work- for me at least.
You would also need coconut. Buy them pre- grated at the store, or grate them yourself at home (excellent exercise for your forearms). The frozen kind, canned coconut milk and coconut milk powder just won’t cut it- trust me!
Also, please decide to make appams on a day when you have leftover cooked rice on hand and save yourself some trouble.
Step 2:- Soaking the rice- the night before…
Just before you plonk face- down onto your pillow after a hard day, drop into your kitchen; find a measuring cup (your morning coffee mug would do) and tumble some white rice into it.
Put it in a large bowl, run it under some water to wash it. Fill it with water till the brim and cover.Done. No fuss.
Now go and hit the sack. Dream “white- lacey” dreams if you may.
Tip- Don’t think about it too much, the more you think about it the more cumbersome it all seems.
Step 2:- Blending- the morning after!
Next morning, as you make your morning coffee/tea, as you ruminate about your impending plans for the day, casually throw in the soaked rice, grated coconut and water into a blender jar….and WHROOOOOOOM!
The timing of the blending is perfect, the racket awakens THE HUSBAND from his slumber as well…
Step 3:- Resting, after the hard-toil
Now both you and the batter can rest, take a break. Inform THE HUSBAND you are going to have appams for the night and therefore can’t be bothered to make another elaborate meal for lunch. So have sandwiches, leftovers…or even better- eat out. You rest.
Meanwhile pour the batter into a large container- put it next to your stove (if you plan to cook something else), or in your oven (please don’t switch it on), or some place warm (suggest you don’t put it in your closet even if it is warm- like I did, not pleasant)…. Let THE BATTER rest.
Step 4:- The unveiling of the “mature” batter
By evening, after about 6 to 8 hours of resting (the batter, not you!), casually tread into the kitchen and sneak a quick peek into the container. THE BATTER should have risen by now. It should be a perfect fermented, almost fluffy mass; with a subtle waft of sourness indicating it’s fermentation status.
If it appears like so, then stride out to the living room, (where THE HUSBAND is most likely hanging out with Ms FlatScreen, Mrs Dell and Mr Note the Third) and announce that dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes.
If by some mischance, the batter fails you- do not make any mention of it, especially to THE HUSBAND. Cite an emergent headache and make instant noodles for dinner. He will most likely not remember any mention of appams made in the morning. Throw some frozen veggies into the noodles to rid yourself of the guilt of them being “unhealthy”.
Step 5:- Making (read “swirling”) the beauties
Use a ladle, dip into the airy, fermented goodness and pour onto an “appa-chatti” (mini- wok-like thingamajig with a lid); a new-age non-stick one will suffice but try to get hold of an authentic cast iron one to appear cool and learned…
The appa-chatti needs to be lightly rubbed with an oil of some kind if you are using a cast iron one.
Now comes the most crucial, technique sensitive part of the whole operation- the SUPER APPA- SWIRL maneuver time. Use a swirling motion and coat the sides of the pan with the batter (swirling your hips along with it gives you some extra-exercise and at the same time oddly helps the batter move around as well!).
If like THE HUSBAND, you prefer evenly thin appams, then pour less batter . But if are really smart, you will like the soft, spongy, airy, succulent, fluffy, big, thick centered ones- just like yours truly. To achieve a thicker middle just feed the pan more batter.
Cover the pan. Wait… Please do not get all impatient now and get the flame up on high to help cook it faster. Na- that would be stupid of you. You have come this far. DO NOT MESS UP NOW!
Couple of minutes later (or 5 “we-all-go-round-the-mulberry-bushes” later)- open the lid ….. behold the lacey-“holey”- spongy appam and revel in it’s beauty for a second. Then, gently take if off the pan using a spatula. Plate it immediately….
Step 6:- Basking in the glory
Serve immediately with an accompaniment of choice and an air of refined nonchalance …..
By now, you would be bursting at the seams with excitement and pride…..
Hold on…stay calm…. Appear elegantly insouciant …. Savour your hard earned appam and bask in the glory of a job well done!
- Some people use par-boiled rice, you could try it if you want to. Not my preference though.
- If you live in a cold clime and do not want to wait ages for the batter to rise, use yeast. Any kind will do- instant/ the activating kind. Add it to the batter or before blending. I personally do not use yeast any more. Don’t like the taste of appams made with them. I just wait longer if necessary for the batter to rise. Trust me, it will rise; ultimately. Just give it time and a warm place.
- If you don’t have cooked rice on hand, some people say adding poha or soaked rice- flakes works. Please let me know how that goes….
- Though I do not like the result, you could use coconut milk (self- made or store- bought) instead of grated coconut ..
- If grating coconut yourself, do not waste the water you get while cracking it open. Mum uses it while blending- brilliant idea I say!
- After blending pour the batter in a metal container/ pan rather than a plastic container if possible. Don’t ask me why- it helps. Also, please do not make it air-tight. Cover it but please let the germs in…
- Make absolutely sure, the vessel/pot/container is large enough (at least double the volume of the batter)- else…well…try it and find out!
- I add the salt, sugar and a pinch of soda bicarb about half an hour before making the appams- personal preference
- Do not make the batter too runny while blending. Water can be added later if needed. Blend with just enough water to make a fine batter – sort of like pancake batter.
- If you really want to eat authentic appams- use “kallu” (toddy/tadi/palm-toddy/ palm-wine) to ferment …
I guess that’s it. Please let me know how it goes. And if there is an appam-expert out there- you are more than welcome to share your expertise. This novice would be thrilled to have you here….
Till next time….