Appam or Paal-appam is one of the most popular breakfast items in Kerala. Like other breakfast items, appam also is a rice based pancake made by fermenting the batter using active yeast. It gets its fair amount of richness from the coconut milk. As opposed to its counterparts like dosa, idli, etc. , appam is predominantly sweet in taste. It can be considered as a type of pancake.
I had never tried my luck with appam because I don’t like the preparation that is required for making the batter. Dosa and idli being more popular, I would get the ready made batter from the grocery store. I feel lazy when I think that I have to soak the rice for 5 hours or more and then grind it and then wait for its fermentation for finally getting the batter ready. Appam is kind of getting popular atleast in the Bay Area, because I see many restaurants having a live counter for appams for buffets!!! 🙂 That encouraged me to try out an easier version of making the batter. I thought of atleast dropping/eliminating the first round of preparation(of soaking rice). So I tried my version of appam using rice flour!!! 🙂 Yaayy..What a success the first time. I was so happy and thrilled. But the second and third time, it was not all that great. The culprit was yeast. I probably used hot water for soaking yeast. But ever since I have got it right and it tastes absolutely marvelous with any spicy gravy/curry. I usually make it with egg curry or pepper chicken. I have seen that kids absolutely love appam because of its sweetness. I personally love it ‘coz of its golden brown outer frill which is crispy and yet has a soft and tender center part that makes it perfect!!!
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml
Rice Flour – 2 cups
Cooked rice – 1/4 cup
Coconut milk – 1 cups
Active Dry Yeast – 1/4 tsp
Water – 2.5 cups
Sugar – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
1. In lukewarm water(1/4 cup), add 1/2 tsp sugar and yeast. Close it with a lid and let it stay for 10-15 mins until foamy.
Note: If the yeast doesn’t get foamy after 10-15 mins, it is because the water wasn’t warm enough or too warm. So it is totally worth it, to throw this batch that didn’t get foamy and start all over again. Try again and again till you hit the right temperature for the water and the yeast gets foamy. This is THE trick to get the appam soft and fluffy. Otherwise, it will get hard. Unless the yeast gets foamy, it will NOT ferment your batter nicely. If it gets foamy, it doesn’t matter if its summer or winter, it will still ferment it if you place the batter in a relatively warm place(like inside an oven!)
2. In a grinder, grind the cooked rice into a smooth paste using less water(apprx. 1/4 cup water).
3. Take rice flour and mix it well with coconut milk, ground cooked rice, salt and remaining water. You can whisk the batter well to avoid any lumps.
4. Now add the yeast solution to the batter and give a light stir. Once you stir in the yeast, keep the batter undisturbed, for fermenting. Leave it overnight or for about 8-10 hours. It might take longer during winter.
5. Once the batter rises, it is ready to be used. Add the remaining sugar just before using the batter. Adding the sugar prior to this could lead to over fermentation, which will make the batter loose its sweetness. If needed, you can add water to bring to a right consistency(The batter should be of as much or more running consistency than that of a dosa batter).
To make appams:-
1. To make appam, in its actual form, you would need appachatti(A variation of a kadai, which is used specifically for making appams). It is a wide kadai and comes with a lid. If you do not have an appachatti, you can use any skillet. The only difference would be that you wouldn’t get it as shown in the picture but more in a pancake form.
2. Heat the appachatti. If the appachatti is non-stick, you don’t need to use oil. Otherwise, grease the appachatti with oil.
3. Pour a laddle of batter and take the appachatti in your hands. Rotate it clockwise so that the batter is spread evenly to all side of the chatti.
4. The remaining batter will come and settle in the center of the appachatti.
5. Now cover it with a lid and let cook in medium high flame. Let stay for over a minute or so.
6. The appam is ready when the sides get a golden brown color and the sides start sticking off from the appachatti.
7. Take the appam out of the appachatti and serve immediately.
1. Adding sugar to the lukewarm water and closing the lid helps in better foaming of yeast.
2. Too much yeast will ferment the batter to an extent that the sweetness of appam would be lost.
3. For better fermentation of the batter, especially during winter, keep the batter in an oven with the oven light on.
4. If you are keeping the batter for fermentation in a closed environment like an oven, keep the vessel uncovered. This will help the batter to rise better.
5. The batter while rising can spill. So ensure to use a vessel that will be just over half full after the batter is poured into it.
6. While the appam is cooking, do not lift the lid of the appachatti many times to check if appam is ready 🙂 This will prevent the proper cooking of appam in steam.
7. Don’t stack the appams one on top of the other. It will be sticky when warm and so they will stick to each other.