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.

Making appams

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.

This is my entry for Independence Day Food Parade hosted by dear Indira.

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25 responses »

  1. HI Gini,

    i heard about the appam for the first time,when i went to one of the indian restaurants here, in bay area.Thanks, now i came to know about the recipe.It looks delicious.I will give a try.And thank you for your compliment on kaaram.Yeah this dish goes well with idly,doas,chapathis and wada.Iam glad i got to know one more fellow blogger.

  2. sounds very nice Gini. I’ve never had palappam and the lacy texture sounds intriguing. We went to kerala on our recent trip to India, but I didn’t get to taste any local fare 😦 We however had wonderful food cooked by my MIL,so I have no cause for complaint. Next time, I am going to make sure I try appam, puttu et al.


  3. Paalappam looks good. My mom makes appam too in india and she used to grind the rice in wet grinder. I love appams but since i do not have wet grinder i did not try appams at all. iam not sure how the appams will turn out if grind the rice in mixie..i have seen the paalappam ready mix in indian grocery stores too. but havent tried it. i was not sure how it would come.. but now i think i can try it.. thanks for the recipe

  4. Archana,Thanks for the tip. I did submit it for the Food Parade.

    Meena, nice meeting you too. I want to try kaaram next time I make dosa or idli,and if I do I will let you know.

    Yeah SH, I dream all year about the things I am going to eat when going to India on vacation and end up returning without having tried half of it. Good to have you back.

    Krithika, Thanks. Y
    You are welcome Annita. My palappams looks so pale compared with yours. I am going to try your method next time.

    Prema, Itwill be fine if you use a mixie. I make dosa batters by grinding it in the blender and works out fine. No reason why it should not work for palappam.

    KK, I have seen palappachattis in Kerala grocery stores. Or if you ask them they might order it for you.

    Pushpa, palappams are such lovely things to eat. Happy Independence Day to you also.

  5. Hi Gini,

    I’m from Sri lanka.I love appam, our food also just like Kerala food(Puttu, Ediyapaam,soyhi) .Now i live in SFO…can you make appam in electric burner, b’coz i don’t have a Gas burner ….what’s rice cream mean? ….. i’m waiting to try this.

  6. hi,
    very nicely done!i made appams recently and didnt come out that right. when i started making it started to crack and became very hard. what do u think went wrong?
    If it was too hard, it could have been that the batter wasnot fermented well. Maybe you need a little more yeast and more warmth. I have had appams like you mentioned, but you have to try till you succeed.

  7. I tried this recipe and it was AWESOME! I had this type of appam only once before many years ago at a restaurant and still remember how I had enjoyed it. I found this recipe and reluctantly tried it out and it turned out great! I had it with some avial and also made it with an egg in the middle, both turned out good, this recipe is a keeper!

  8. hi thank you for the recipe its helpful. but can u help me on my doubts.
    1) how can i loosen the consistency of the batter? should i add cold or warm milk (milk is it the usual drinking milk or coconut milk)
    2)how can i store the extra batter? if i refrigerat will i be able to make the same the next day? for how long can i keep this batter
    i hope you will be able to spare some time to help me here, thank you very much

  9. Thanks soumya. This I learnt from Satish’s cousins. It is less work and there is no soaking of the rice and grinding to a batter. Works quite well most of the time.

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  13. I just happened across your site while searching for palappam. Have you tried the recipe with a sourdough starter instead of plain yeast. Covering the chatti while the appam is cooking gives a good rise to the appam. (dont remember if you mentioned it) . Would love to hear something a comment on the sourdough though.

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