Appam - the Queen of Kerala is a fermented flat bread made out of Rice and Coconut. In Tamil, it is known as “Aappam“. The Srilankans prefer to call it as “appa” or “hopper“. Appam is specially popular among the Syrian Christians of Kerala and some say that Appam was adapted from Jewish people who migrated to Kerala. Times have changed and I would say, Appam has become an identity of all Keralites.
There are numerous variations of Appam like Palappam, Velayappam, Kallappam, Vatayappam and so on….. I have always tried to find out the difference between Palappam, Velayappam and the likes but I realized that the names and recipes for Appam vary from region to region in Kerala.
Back Home, my mom used to make 2 kinds of Appam – one was Palappam and the other Kallappam. I guess these 2 were the familiar ones in and around Kottayam. When I moved to college, I discovered Vellayappam, which is how it is known in some Northern Regions of Kerala. Later, after moving to US, I learnt from my friends about the simple and humble Plain Appam, with no frills and thrills.
Finally, here is how I like to classify Appam – but again, the nomenclature will differ from person to person.
- Palappam - It’s made by grinding rice and mixing with Yeast and Coconut milk. Palappams are made in a special pan known as Palappam Chatti. My mother in law always uses ordinary milk instead of Coconut Milk.
- Kallappam - Traditionally, made using Toddy but people substitute it with Yeast. It’s made by grinding Rice, grated Coconut, shallots and Cumin. Kalappams are made on a flat pan similar to pancakes.
- Velayappam - It’s more or less like Palappam – batter is made by grinding together grated Coconut and Rice. Coconut Milk is not used.
- Appam - The simplest of all which is made using Rice Flour, Yeast and Coconut Milk.
Here is the recipe for making Appam using Rice Flour and Coconut Milk. It’s pretty easy as you don’t have to soak rice, grate coconut or grind anything. Again the suggestion to use Rice Flour came from my dear Mom-In-Law. Later, when I discussed with some friends, even they told me the same. Well, this Appam tastes really good and is the easiest of all but for authentic Palappam or Kallappam taste, you will have to grind rice and can’t use Rice Flour. Appam tastes excellent with Mutta Curry/Egg Curry. You can make this Appam on a flat tava, pan or griddle similar to Dosa or you can make flower shaped Appams in a Palappam Chatti (deep round pan used for Palappams).
- Rice Flour - 2 cups
- Rapid Rise Highly Active Yeast – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 3 tbsp
- Rava (Semolina) – 2 tbsp
- Thick Coconut Milk – 1/2 to 1 Cup (I use Canned Coconut Milk)
- Water – As needed
- Salt – to taste
Preparation Method for Batter
- For making Rava Kurukku (Semolina Paste) which is a thick paste, take 2 cups of water in a saucepan and add 2 tbsp of rava (semolina). Bring it to a boil stirring continuously. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring. When the mixture changes to a thick paste, remove it from heat and allow it to cool.
- If you are in a hurry and do not want to keep the batter overnight for fermenting, then you can use any Rapid Rise Yeast. I use Fleischman Rapid Rise Yeast for quicker fermentation. If you are using Ordinary Active Dry Yeast, then check out the Note section at the end of this page for instructions.
- In a big bowl, combine 2 cups of Rice Flour, 3 tbsp Sugar, cooled Rava Kurukku (Semolina Paste), 1 tsp Rapid Rise Yeast along with 1/2 cup Coconut Milk and a pinch of salt. Add around 1/2 to 1 cup water or more and whisk everything to form a smooth and thick batter. The batter should be thick because after fermentation it will rise and become thinner in consistency.
- Leave the batter in a warm place for around 3-4 hours and allow it to ferment.
Making Appams on a Flat Griddle or Tava/Frying Pan
- Just before preparing Appam, you can add 1-2 tbsp of sugar, if you like your appam to be sweet. If the batter is thick, add around 1/4 cup coconut milk to the batter. The final batter should have a consistency similar to that of Idly Batter. Whisk everything well.
- Heat a flat Non Stick Tava or griddle and pour a ladle full of batter. Do not spread the batter with the ladle.
- Cover with a lid and allow it to cook on medium heat for around 2-3 minutes. Skip this step if you are using a griddle.
- Turn the appam and cook the other side till it is slightly brown.
- Serve these Appams with Egg Roast, Chicken Curry or any Spicy vegetable curry.
- You can make atleast 8-10 medium sized appams with the given measurement.
For making Palappams in a Palappam Chatti
- For making Palappam with the same batter, just before preparing palappam, add 1-2 tbsp of sugar and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut milk to the batter and mix well. The batter should be loose in consistency similar to that of Dosa batter.
- Pour a ladle full of batter into a Palappa Chatti (deep round pan used for Palappams) and swirl the pan lightly, spreading the batter to the sides of the pan.
- Cover with lid and allow it to cook for around 3 minutes on medium heat. When the center of appam is done and the edges start detaching, remove the palappam carefully from the pan. Do not flip palappams.
- If you like the edges or laces to be golden brown, add more sugar to the batter.
- If you are using Active Dry Yeast, please follow the procedure given below:
- In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp yeast and 2 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup of luke warm water. Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes and allow it to rise.
- Mix it with the remaining ingredients in Step 3 and keep the batter over night (8-10 hours) for fermentation.