How would you like to eat something that is both soft and crispy? How would you like your breakfast to look like a pillow of clouds? Would you like it, if it tastes like one? So soft, so fresh, subtly sweet centres with crispy, caramel-y edge.. would you like if each bite melts in your mouth? I think you will! I know I do. Appam is a typical Keralan breakfast that is served either with channa curry called “kadalakurry”, steamed veggies called “avial or my favourite, sweetened fresh coconut milk. Typically appam is made using a special bowl shaped frying pan called “appachatti” that gives the soft centre and crispy edges to the appam. Once batter is poured into hot pan, it is whirled around until a thin layer sticks around the pan and once the pan is settled, rest of the batter collects in the centre, pan is then closed, letting the centre cook without burning edges. When appam comes out hot, each one is a bowl in itself.
I do not have one of these bowls with me, not for lack of trying, they are usually not easy to find outside of India. You can buy them online if you want one. I use my flat, cast iron pan, the outcome is pretty good. You can’t let a technicality get in your way of good food. Pour batter in the centre of pan, pick it up and give it a good whirl around, let the batter run around the pan, get it back on fire and close the pan with a lid. If you think the batter is too thin in middle, pour a spoonful of batter in the centre before putting on the lid. I have tried making these appams using woks and regular Kadai but they are not the same. Flat pan is the closest I have come with to an actual appachatti with appam.
The batter is quite simple to make and is made ahead to let it ferment.Usually the batter is let to ferment for about 8 to 12 hours, depending on room temperature. I tend to make the batter in evening, so I can use it for breakfast. If you plan to keep the batter for longer than two days, divide the batter into two or more portions, let the portion that you plan on using immediately to ferment and refrigerate the rest. This will slow down the fermentation while the batter sits in the fridge and will taste just as good for upto a week. If not, the batter might ferment a lot and start to give out a sour taste to appam. You can add a handful of poha (flattened rice) or cooked rice to the blender while preparing the batter to make a more softer and whiter appam.
Rice : 2.5 cups
Fresh coconut : half a cup
Sugar : 1 tablespoon
Salt : To taste
Yeast : 3-5 grams
- Pre-soak rice for atleast 5 hours. Any white rice will do the trick.
- Drain water, in a blender add the pre-soaked rice, fresh coconut and sugar. Blend it well, add water as required. Blend until very smooth, batter should have consistency of a crepe / dosa batter.
- Add yeast and give it a quick blitz in blender to mix it well, transfer to a container. Do not fill the container to full capacity, it will need room to ferment and rise up. Cover and let it sit in a warm, dry place for 8 to 12 hours.
- The batter would bubble up and would have risen in quantity. Add salt to taste.
- Heat a pan, once it is hot, pour a spoonful of batter, lift and swirl the pan such that the batter coats all over the pan surface. Cover the pan with lid, let it sit for a minute or two. (If the batter is too thick, add little water so it can flow easily on the pan. If the batter is too thin, once the batter has coated around pan, pour some batter in the middle and then cover with lid.)
- To know if appam is done, wet your fingers and lightly pat the surface at centre, (the thick part of appam), if it sticks on your fingers, it is not cooked yet. If fingers come off clean, they are done.
- Enjoy your appam with some veggie stew or sweet coconut milk.