‘The lacy edge‘
Palappam is a quintessential Kerala Christian breakfast. Usually reserved for Sunday breakfasts or for special gatherings, the prepwork for this dish starts the night before. They are also nicknamed ‘lace appams’ because of the lace like fringe of this appam. Kids are notorious for just eating this lacy part while leaving the thicker centres making their mothers mad.
Palappam literally translates to ‘milk appam’, and is made of a fermented batter of coconut or coconut milk, rice or rice flour and yeast. The traditional way of making this is by grinding together saoked rice and grated coconut. Some parts of Kerala people substitute coconut milk for grated coconut. After coming to the US, I learnt this method of combing rice flour, coconut milk and yeast which saves so much time and takes out some of the intricacy of the prep work.
If you thought the prepwork was intricate wait till you get to the real thing of making the appams. The palappachatti is the special pan to make the appams. It has a slight depression in the bottom and slightly flare out onto the ends which creates the unique shape of the palappam. Once the batter is poured, speed is of the essence to make the perfect appam.
Preparing the batter: This should be done the night before.
Rice flour 2 cups ( In Kerala grocery stores, you can get the rice flour that is specific for palappam. The rice flour is usually slightly fried and has a little more texture than plain rice flour)
Yeast- 1/2 tsp dissolved in some luke warm water with a pinch of sugar. Wait for it to rise.
Coconut milk- 1 can
Kurukku- This is made by combining one spoon of cream of rice with some hot water on stove top to create a gooey mixture.
That is it. Combine all the above and leave overnight in a warm place.
In the morning as soon as you walk into the kitchen, you will be greeted by the smell of the fermented batter. You can add some warm milk if the batter is too thick to make it slightly watery. Add salt.
Place the palappachatti on the stove. Make sure it is not too hot or cold. Too hot the appams will not hold their shape and if too cold, the lace does not form properly.
Apply some oil so that appams dont stick. I use nallenna( gingelly oil), but anykind should work. Take a scoop of the batter and drop it into the palappachatti. Hold the two handles of the palappachatti and give it a quick twirl to spread the batter around. Do this only once. If you make two twirls, the edges get too thick and you wont form proper laces. Cover and leave on for about 2 min. A cooked appam should be cooked throughout. Some like the appams with a slight brown tinge, just leave it on the stove a bit longer.
Remove and repeat to make more appams. Serve warm.
Goes well with egg curry, meat curry or even with some milk and sugar.
We had this with some Kerala style chicken stew.
I couldnot take any more pictures as my camera started malfunctioning.
For appam made by grating coconut and rice, and better pics see Annita’s version.