Appam is a traditional South Indian pancake made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk. It is a popular breakfast or dinner dish in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
Appam has a unique texture that is soft and spongy in the center, with a thin and crispy lace-like edge. The fermentation process gives it a light and airy texture. It is a type of pancake with a soft and fluffy center and a crispy golden-brown edge.
Appam is typically served with a variety of accompaniments, including coconut chutney, vegetable stew (like potato or mixed vegetable stew), chicken or mutton curry, egg curry, or even sweetened coconut milk for a dessert-like option. The choice of accompaniments may vary based on personal preferences and regional variations.
Ingredients for appam:
- 2 cups raw rice (preferably a short-grain variety)
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- 1/4 cup cooked rice
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- Water (as needed)
- Coconut oil (for greasing the pan)
Instructions for appam:
- Soak the raw rice in water for about 4-5 hours. Drain the water and set aside.
- In a blender, add the soaked rice, grated coconut, cooked rice, active dry yeast, sugar, and salt. Blend everything together to form a smooth batter. If needed, add water gradually to achieve a slightly thick pouring consistency.
- Pour the batter into a large bowl and cover it with a clean cloth. Allow it to ferment overnight or for at least 8 hours. During fermentation, the batter will rise and become slightly frothy.
- After fermentation, give the batter a gentle stir. If it appears too thick, add a little water to adjust the consistency.
- Heat an appam pan or a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Grease it lightly with coconut oil.
- Pour a ladleful of batter into the center of the pan. Hold the handles of the pan and gently swirl it in a circular motion so that the batter spreads thinly and evenly, with a thicker center and a thinner outer edge.
- Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and crispy. The center should remain soft and spongy.
- Once cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a serving plate.
- Repeat the process with the remaining batter, greasing the pan lightly before each appam.
- Serve it hot with coconut chutney, vegetable stew, or your preferred curry.
Enjoy your homemade appam!
- Vegetable Stew: Appam pairs beautifully with a mild and flavorful vegetable stew. The stew is typically made with a combination of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, peas, and beans, cooked in a coconut milk-based broth with spices like ginger, garlic, and curry leaves.
- Coconut Chutney: A classic and simple accompaniment to the recipe is coconut chutney. It is made by grinding fresh coconut, roasted chana dal (split chickpeas), green chilies, ginger, and a tadka (tempering) of mustard seeds, curry leaves, and urad dal (split black lentils). The creamy and mildly spicy chutney adds a delightful burst of flavor to the appam.
- Egg Curry: If you enjoy eggs, a flavorful egg curry can be a delicious accompaniment. The curry is made by simmering hard-boiled eggs in a spiced tomato-onion gravy, often infused with coconut milk. The creamy curry creates a delightful combination.
- Sweet Coconut Milk: It can also be enjoyed with a sweet accompaniment. A simple and traditional option is to serve it with sweetened coconut milk. The coconut milk is sweetened with sugar or jaggery and flavored with cardamom. Drizzle the sweet coconut milk over the appam for a delightful dessert-like experience.
Tips and variation
- Fermentation: Ensure that the batter is fermented well by leaving it overnight or for at least 8 hours in a warm place. The batter should rise and become slightly frothy.
- Consistency of batter: The batter should have a slightly thick pouring consistency, similar to that of pancake batter. If the batter is too thick, add a little water to adjust. Thinner batter will result in thin and crispy appams, while thicker batter will yield thicker and softer appams.
- Swirling the pan: When pouring the batter into the pan, immediately swirl the pan in a circular motion to spread the batter evenly. This technique helps create the characteristic thin and lacy edges while keeping the center thick and spongy.
- Lid while cooking: Covering the pan with a lid while cooking helps create a steamy environment, resulting in a softer center. It also helps cook evenly.
- Appam pan alternative: If you don’t have an appam pan, you can use a non-stick skillet or a shallow frying pan with a lid. Make sure to grease the pan lightly with oil or ghee before pouring the batter.
- Wheat: For a healthier version, you can substitute a portion of the raw rice with whole wheat flour. Use 1 cup of raw rice and 1 cup of whole wheat flour in the batter. The rest of the recipe remains the same. This variation adds a nutty flavor and increases the fiber content.
- Banana: To add a fruity twist, you can mash a ripe banana and add it to the batter. The banana not only enhances the flavor but also lends a soft and moist texture to the appam. Add mashed banana while blending the batter.
- Jaggery: For a sweet appam variation, you can replace the sugar in the batter with powdered jaggery (unrefined cane sugar). Add the powdered jaggery while blending the batter. The jaggery imparts a rich caramel-like flavor to the appam.
- Vegetable: You can make savory appams by adding finely chopped vegetables like onions, carrots, bell peppers, and cilantro to the batter. Mix the vegetables into the batter just before making the appams. This variation adds color, texture, and a hint of freshness to the dish.
- Masala: To give a spicy twist, you can add spices like cumin seeds, crushed black pepper, and finely chopped green chilies to the batter. Adjust the spices according to your preference to create a flavorful appam.
- Q: Can I make an appam without using yeast?
A: Yes, you can make it without yeast. Instead of yeast, you can use fermented batter from a previous batch of appam. This acts as a natural leavening agent. Alternatively, you can use baking soda or baking powder as a substitute for yeast, but the texture and taste of the appam may differ slightly.
- Q: Can I use store-bought rice flour to make an appam?
A: It is best to use raw rice and grind it to make fresh batter. However, if you are using rice flour, make sure it is a fine variety and not too coarse. You may need to adjust the quantity of water in the batter to achieve the desired consistency.
- Q: How do I prevent the appam from sticking to the pan?
A: To prevent it from sticking to the pan, make sure to properly grease the pan with coconut oil or any other cooking oil before pouring the batter. Additionally, using a non-stick pan or an appam pan with a non-stick coating can help prevent sticking.
- Q: Can I make an appam without coconut milk?
A: Coconut milk adds flavor and richness, but if you don’t have coconut milk, you can substitute it with regular milk or buttermilk. The taste and texture of the appam will be slightly different, but it can still be enjoyable.
- Q: How do I store leftovers?
A: It is best enjoyed fresh, but if you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat them in a microwave or a steamer before serving.
- Q: Can I make mini-appams or appam paniyarams?
A: Yes, you can make using the same batter. Instead of using a large appam pan, you can use a paniyaram pan or an appe pan. Grease the cavities with oil, pour the batter into each cavity, and cook until golden brown.