Monday, 1 September 2008

Appam (vellayappam)

I was quite surprised to read in a travel magazine that Vellayappam and Stew is one of the best 15 breakfasts in the world. Appam was one of the dishes that I started making since the very beginning of my cooking. These are pancakes with thin laced edges and thick fluffy centre It is very light, airy and goes well with stew and many other curries. The recipe is my mother's and this is something that always came excellent for me. But again I use all fresh ingredients rather than powders and canned stuff so it myt take a bit of your time. Eventhough it takes time,its worth a try. And But again, the taste of Appam will vary depending on many factors like the fermentation of the batter and the weather. The colder the weather, the longer it will take to ferment. So always keep the batter in a warm place to rise. I usually keep the batter near the radiator and I leave it there for about 6-8 hours and thats perfect. By that time, the batter would rise very well and be fermented enough for making the perfect crisp and light Appams. If leaving it in a colder place it should take even more time.

Apart from that, vellappam is made in a special dish called"Appacchatti". I think its a miniature version of a wok with lid and its very important to have this "appacchatti" .This gives Appam or Vellapam a round shape having thin edges and sponge like centre. In flat frying pans, you may be able to do, but u will never get that texture and crispiness that you get in a appacchatti.

My Appacchatti
1/2 cup Cooked rice
2 cups Long grain rice/basmati rice
1 cup grated coconut
salt- as required
water-as required to make a thick batter
1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1. Soak basmati rice in water for about 2-4 hours.
2. Drain water and put it blender along with little water and cooked rice and blend well until you get a thick and smooth batter of dropping consistency without rice grains. At this stage, add grated coconut and blend well again for few seconds until coconut is well ground . Add more water if you find difficulty to grind them. Dont make the batter too thin by adding lot of water.
3. Add yeast at the end and just pulse once till yeast is well incorporated. Add salt and mix well.
4. Pour the batter into a large vessel and keep it covered in a warm place for about 6-8 hours. Once the batter is fermented, you can see that the batter is risen well and has bubbles on top and there is a strong, pungent smell.
Batter - before fermentingBatter-after fermenting

5. At this stage, stir the batter well.
6. Place the appacchatti on medium-high flame.
7.Using a ladle pour a some batter into the centre of the pan. My ladle holds 1/2 cup of batter . See the figure.
Pour batter in the centre
8. Hold the handles of the appachatti and swirl the chatti once inorder to spread the batter all around the chatti. Excess batter should accumalate in the centre to get that spongy centre of appams.

Swirl the pan around to spread the batter to the side of the pan
9. Close the lid and cook for around 3 minutes or until the batter is completely cooked. By this time appam will come off the chatti easily if it is a non-stick chatti.
10. Serve hot with vegetable stew,mutton stew, sweet stew or any other curry. I will be posting them soon. Many curries very well goes with Appam.
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