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Kerala Appam/Palappam

My all-time favorite South Indian food combo is cripsy-edged Appam paired with a ladle full of tangy, sweet chicken curry poured on top of the pillowy center. Growing up, this was my breakfast. My brunch. Our special occasion table special for holidays like Christmas and Easter. Nothing beats eating this, except being able to make it from scratch!

As always, do not fear how long the “how to make it” section is! I promise it’s mostly just full of a lot of details and notes to help you along the process of making these appams. This is one of those dishes that you need to plan ahead for because of the fermentation process required to make it.

If you decide to make this recipe or have any questions about how to make it, head over to my instagram @thefamiliarkitchen so we can connect and I can see how it turned out for you!

INGREDIENTS

  • Long Grain Rice (Uncooked), 1 cup
  • Coconut Water with Pulp, 1 can (brands like Goya or Foco are great)
  • Grated Coconut, 1/2 cup
  • Cooked (Parboiled) Rice, 1/2 cup
  • Coconut Milk, 1 cup (Chaokoh is my favorite brand)
  • Sugar, 2 tbsp
  • Dry Active Yeast, 1/2 tsp (+ 2 tbsp warm water, 1/2 tsp sugar)
  • Salt, 1/2 tsp
Appam

A fermented coconut batter called appam

HOW TO MAKE IT

Soaking.

Soak the long-grain rice in the coconut water along with enough water so the rice is fully submerged. Using coconut water is optional, but I like that it sweetens the rice. You can simply use water only if you prefer. Let the rice soak for 6-8 hours (or overnight).

The batter.

Once soaked, drain completely keeping the water. Add the soaked rice to a blender along with the grated coconut, cooked rice, coconut milk, and sugar. Blend this until it’s smooth with very little grit to it. The consistency should be like a slightly thinner pancake batter. If it’s too thick, mix with a little more of the reserved water. If it’s too thin, add a little rice flour. *Tip: use an immersion blender after the batter has been made to run through and make there everything is mixed really well. 

Fermentation.

In a cup with about 2 tbsp lukewarm (not hot) water, dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, mix in the dry active yeast. Let this proof for about 10 min. It should puff up and look frothy when it is done proofing. Mix this into the prepared appam batter. Keep the batter in a large (plastic) bowl and cover. *I personally keep my batter in a large plastic bowl because I live in a colder climate and plastic doesn’t hold cold temperatures like glass and steel bowls will. I also like to a drape towel over the covered bowl so it can incubate or I put it in the oven with just the oven light on. 

The next day/after 10-12 hours (sometimes 24 hours), the batter should have risen/puffed up and will have little fermentation holes on top. This is a good sign of fermentation. Mix this with the salt and then we are ready to make appams!

Making appam.

Now that your batter is ready, you will need an appam chatti to make the lattice-edged appams. *If you do not have a chatti, you can use a flat griddle, but you will need to add some rice flour to the batter to thicken it up. This is a different style called Vellayappam (which also includes some spices) and it is similar to a pancake batter/shape. 

Place your chatti on its ring so that it is balanced. Turn the heat to about medium. Using a flat ladle, pour about 1/3 cup into the center of the chatti. Pick up the chatti using the handles, hold it away from the flame, and then rotate it in a circle motion in one round motion. Rotate so the batter goes near the edge of the chatti (below the round studs) in one full circle and then place back on the ring and cover. Don’t try to rotate more than once or you will get doughy appam and lose the lattice shape.

Let this cook covered for about a minute. Try not to peek too much or else you will release the steam that helps the appam cook. If your batter is clumping up/not sticking when you try to form the appam on the chatti, your heat level is probably too high. Use a spatula to remove the appam from the chatti and done!

Appam

A Kerala breakfast or brunch favorite called Appam

Storing.

If you have extra batter leftover, you can store it in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days.

When I was a kid, one of the first things my mom taught me how to make was a hot cup of chaya (homestyle tea). It was like a rite of passage…and an invitation to her colorful, spice-filled kitchen. The most exciting part back then was daringly pouring the steamy, caramel-colored goodness from one steel cup to another so I could cool it down and get that classic, frothy texture to sit atop the tea. It’s a recollection of my childhood every time I do it. That same magical feeling still shines through my recipes, both new and old. There’s just nothing like creating a dish so full of evocative flavor and love. It’s what gives me joy and the inspiration to share this experience with you every day! It’s something I hope offers you adventure, a little piece of home, and maybe even something a little familiar.

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