Appam and stew is a typical Kerala dish served at breakfast time. Not only is it a keralean dish but an authentic Syrian Christian dish. There are many varieties of appam—nool appam (or idiappam–which resembles a nest of fine noodles, Paal appam- a frilly appam made with coconut milk, Vellappam, Indri appam, Kalluappam etc…..,The most recognizable one is the Paal appam with its crunchy edges and soft spongy center. Stew ( or also called Ishtoo, Eshtu) can be made with mutton, chicken, or mixed vegetables as is the usual accompaniment to appam. It is a coconut milk based gravy with white pepper as the predominant spice. Appam can also be eaten with Fish Molee.
For this sunday, I made an Vegetable Egg Stew with Paal Appam
Vegetable Egg Stew
5 Hard boiled eggs
1 tbsp oil (use coconut oil for an authentc taste)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, few whole peppercorn, 4-5 green cardamom, 1 Bay leaf
1 lg onion- sliced
1 tbsp sliced ginger
1 tbsp sliced garlic
4 sliced geen chilies (add more if you like it spicy
6-8 curry leaves
2 tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp black pepper
pinch of turmeric
2 cups Coconut milk
3-4 cups chopped mixed vegetables ( potato, green pepper, carrot, peas, beans, cauliflower)
salt to taste
Peel the hard boiled eggs and keep aside. In a large pot, add oil and when hot add the mustard seeds. After they have finished spluttering add the whole spices-cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorn, cardamom, bay leaf)Then add sliced onion, ginger garlic, curry leaves and saute for a few minutes. To this add the salt, white pepper powder, black pepper, and turmeric and saute. Add all the vegetables and little water until cooked. When done add cocnut milk and reduce heat. When almost boiling add the hard bolied eggs and remove from stove. Can be eaten with all appams, or even chapathies.
Alt: This recipe can be followed for chicken or mutton stew in that you would add cubed chicken or precooked mutton instead of the vegetables. Instead of water you would add some of the cooking stock from the mutton. The chicken does not have to be precooked like the mutton does.
Paal Appam ( Vellayappam )
This is my fool proof method to make perfect a appams every time.
3 cups Rice Flour
1 cup Dessicated coconut flakes (may use unsweetened fresh or frozen coconut flakes)
pinch of cumin powder
1 can Coconut milk (400 ml)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp yeast
Sugar and salt to taste
water as needed
Add yeast to 1/4 cup of warm water and let it dissolve and get frothy. (If it does not get frothy then you may have old yeast and will not make the appam rise) Take the measured rice flour, coconut flakes and cumin powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk (it’s better for rising if you use a little warm coconut milk so can microwave it for a 30-40 seconds) Use a whisk and mix together. Add some water to get a pancake batter consistency. May need a few cups. Add gradually. Add the proofed yeast mixture to this and combine well. Should be a pancake batter conistency. Cover and keep on counter for 6-8 hrs. Usually preparing this in the evening will ensure that it is ready in the morning for breakfast. If it ferments too long it will start getting more sour.
The appam should have risen up and be alittle frothy with lots of air bubbles. Before making the appam, mix well and add the sugar and salt to taste.
Put the Paal appam chatti or pan on to the stove and warm at medium heat. The Paal appam chatti is the shape of a narrow khadai with slightly sloping sides.These sides are what makes the lacy, crispy edges of the appam.
Pour a ladlefull of batter into the hot pan and swirl around so that some batter adheres to edges of pan….the rest of the batter will collect at the bottom to create a thick center and thin edges. Cover and cook ffor 1-2 minutes until center is cooked and eddges are slightly brown and crispy. This recipe yields about 15 appams. If you do not have an appam pan, make them on a skillet like pancakes, cover and cook. Do not turn over—this then becomes Vellayappam.
Addendum: You can use sweetened coconut flakes as well but it will ferment much quicker (yeast will use up the extra sugar). Also Make sure the batter is not too sweet or else your appams will brown too quickly.
Here you can see how much the batter has risen. you can make Vellayappam using the same batter except you make it in a skillet like pancakes but you cover it while its cooking and you don’t flip it over.