Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Perfect Appam - To Tickle Your Taste Buds

In every woman's life, there are recipes which are passed from mother to daughter and those passed as part of the extended family through in laws.This appam recipe is one of the tasty ones which I learned from my mother in law.I remember writing down the exact measurements and procedure from her after marriage and this recipe has always delivered the most wonderful, heavenly tasting appams.
Here in Sydney, I have found two places recently, where you can find delicious appams.The first place is the famous Sydney Murugan Temple, where appam is available by the name of String Hoppers on Friday and Saturday.This appam is relatively small, has coconut cream in the center with something brown and sweet.I love it, though its taste is a bit different from what we make at home.Similar appam is available in an Indian and Srilankan Take Away shop located in Wentworthville, on the road from the station to Udaya Stores, the one place where you can find stuff for all your South Indian kitchen requirements.

My mother-in-law says that the appams she tasted in Malaysia were the best ones to date.The appams which I am talking about is a staple food of Kerala and pronounced aa-pams.They can be served with coconut milk, veg stew or a similar non-veg gravy.

Ingredients:
Avil/Poha - 1 Cup
Pachai Arisi/Raw rice - 3 Cups
Urad Dhal  - 3 Spoons
Salt - To taste
Cooking Soda - A pinch
Coconut Water - 1 Cup( if available)
Yeast - 1/2 tsp or very little for fermentation(Optional)

Important: Appa Chatti is required for perfect appams.

Procedure:
1.Soak the poha, rice and urad dhal separately for 2 hours
2.First grind the poha and Urad dhal together  to a fine paste and keep the batter separately.Then grind the    rice separately to a very fine paste and mix it well with the other paste.
3.Add the required salt, and the pinch of soda
4.Keep for fermentation.It usually takes about 10-12 hours for it to be fully fermented.
5.The fermented batter can be kept in the refrigerator and freshly used.
6.1 cup of coconut milk or coconut water may be added to the fermented batter for extra taste just before use.
Making Appams:Place the appa chatti in the stove and wait till it is properly heated.Coat the chatti with a spoon of oil using a tissue paper, before making appam, i.e., pouring the batter. Pour a ladle of batter into the appa chatti and give in a swirl, so that the batter gets evenly coated.The batter is thinner in the sides and more in the middle.The appa chatti is a concave shaped vessel, and hence helps in achieving its shape.Close the appa chatti and wait for a minute or two till the appam is well cooked, before taking it off with the suitable ladle provided with the chatti.
Some Tips and Tricks
Over the years, these are the small things I have found regarding appams.
  • Many people use cooked rice instead of poha.It is said to give very soft appams.I have personally never tried it.
  • If you want to make appams tomorrow, it is best to prepare the batter fresh sometime today.
  • If you live in a cold place, place the batter in a pre-heated oven to help in the fermentation.Fully fermented batter is very important to make appams.Without  proper fermentation, appams will not be fluffy or taste good.
  • Using yeast : I use dry yeast and do not add the cooking soda.Add 1/2 spoon of dry yeast to a little of warm water with a bit of sugar.Add the dissolved yeast water to the batter before keeping for fermentation.
  •  When you take batter from the vessel, it is best to use it up fully.So I usually take the batter in a small bowl and use it up fully.Never mix the used batter back to the unused one.Else it will become watery.

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