Monday, December 28, 2009

Counterfeit Appams


While reading Ladies Coupe for This Book Makes Me Cook this month, I was struck by the passage where the central character in the book picks up a white, fluffy appam (Coconut flavoured rice pancake - a specialty from Kerala, India) from the railway station food vendor.
Well, "struck" was as far as that went, because I have a history of making appams that are the polar opposite of the mouthwatering visual that author painted in the book. My appams have not risen, or have risen to sourdough extremes, or were hard as an actual coconut and never quite the ethereal white color that appams are famed for.
So as I sat desolately, my cousin G chanced upon me and I mournfully told her about my appam woes. "Have no fear!" G exclaimed. "Have you tried Sprite appams?"
Sprite appams? I asked incredulously... And therein, G reeled me in hook, line and sinker into the deceptive world of making "instant" appams, without the 12 hour fermentation time.
DISCLAIMER: These appams are counterfeit. They are nowhere close to the real-deal appams that are made with long grain rice and lovingly coaxed into little bubbles of heavenly clouds.
No - these are brash, in-your-face appams that are ready in a jiffy and will provide you with instant gratification or an appam-high, the heights of which will be escalated if you cunningly serve them with a gravy rich curry to mask their inadequacies . Appam purists and Gods of Kerala cuisine - prepare your fatwas against me, I stand surrendered. Oh wait, is that another batch of insta-appams waiting for me. Sorry, gotta run...
2 cups rice flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sugar + 1 Tbsp sugar (divided use)
1 can Sprite
1/2 cup coconut milk or regular milk
2 tbsp rice flour + water to dissolve

1. Prepare thickening agent - dissolve 2 Tbsp rice flour in just enough water to make a thick paste and heat in a small pan to "cook" it. When warm and thickened, remove from heat.
2. Warm 1/2 cup water in microwave till lukewarm. Add yeast and 1 tsp sugar and let it froth or bubble up (about 10 minutes).
3. Mix 2 cups rice flour, thickening agent and yeast mixture in a bowl. Add Sprite as necessary to make a mixture of medium consistency.(Rice flour should be dissolved, but overall consistency should not be too thin). I used about 3/4 of a regular can of Sprite. Add 1 Tbsp of sugar into the mixture and stir in.
4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and turn the oven off. Place the bowl of rice mixture in the warm oven for about three hours or until mixture bubbles/ferments. I did not do the preheat step, I turned the pilot light in my oven on and placed the bowl near the light.
5. When the mixture has frothed up, add coconut milk or regular milk (2% or skim, whatever you have on hand) to thin out the batter (do not make the batter too thin) and add a teaspoon of salt right before you start cooking the appams.
6. Ladle enough mixture into a heated appam pan or non-stick frying pan and cover till cooked.
7. Serve with a gravy based curry like Potato "Ishtu" =)


Desisoccermom said...

Ann, I stand corrected as is my post. I am eating crow as I applaud your effort to make appams, even if they were counterfeit. I just used the store bought idli batter and steamed some idlis! All points go to you.

tasteofbeirut said...

Such an interesting recipe Ann! I had no idea pancakes such as these existed! Must be so light with the rice flour and the coconut would give it a delightful flavor!

Trish said...

Oh my...counterfeit or not...I am still very very impressed!

Cynthia said...

Happy New Year!