Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vella Appam / Hoppers

... and ishtew for breakfast on a lovely relaxed weekend morning. Vella appam or hoppers is a favorite Kerala breakfast item. The extensive use of coconut in Kerala cuisine continues to be seen in the vella appam recipe as  well. Grated coconut is added when grinding the batter giving the appam a coconutty and slightly sweet taste to it. In Kerala, many families use toddy to ferment the batter; although it is a delicacy the taste takes getting used to. Our family has always added coconut water when grinding and later added soda to the batter in the morning before making the appam. One reason for that could be that my grandfather was a teetotaler and hence I guess toddy being brought home was ruled out.
Appam is paired off with quite a few accompaniments - chutney, potato stew, vegetable stew, mutton stew, motta / egg curry. And if you check the recipe of these dishes you will find more coconut! The Appam recipe that I follow was given to me by my mother after I shifted post my marriage. I follow it to the T and this recipe has always worked for me. This vella appam recipe requires coconut water which I collect from the coconuts I use at home. This can be stored in an airtight container in the frig for about a week. So every time you crack a coconut carefully collect the water and store it. In case you do not use coconuts and/or don't have coconut water, use plain water to grind.
Recipe Ingredients
Rice, uncooked  - 1 cup
Rice, Cooked  - 1/4 cup
Coconut, grated - 1/2 cup
Coconut water
Sugar - 1 tsp heaped
Salt as per taste
Water (optional)
Baking Soda - 1 pinch
Wash the rice and then soak it for 4 to 6 hours. Add the sugar and 1tsp salt to the coconut water, mix well and keep aside. Grate the coconut just before grinding the batter and keep aside.
Use a blender that can grind finely when doing this batter. Drain the uncooked rice and add it to the blending jar along with the cooked rice, grated coconut and coconut water and grind it. In case you do not have enough coconut water add some plain water to get a thickish batter. Adjust the salt and pour it into a container to be kept in room temperature overnight.
In the morning about an hour before you start making the appam, add a pinch of soda to the batter and mix well and keep aside.
the batter after adding the baking soda in the morning
When ready to make the appams, take a appam chatti - a vessel  like a medium sized kadai with a lid and heat it. Apply oil on the complete surface and spread it using half an onion. Then pour a ladle full of batter in the center of the chatti and slowly swirl it around spreading the batter in a circle. Sprinkle some oil on the sides of the appam and close the chatti with a lid. After about 30 seconds open to see if done. You should have a shiny, cooked, spongy looking top at the center and that is when it is ready to be served on a plate.

Spoon some potato ishtew on to a plate, add an appam and you have your yummy breakfast.

- Add the sugar and salt to the coconut water to aid fermentation. In case using plain water to grind, add the salt and sugar when grinding.
- I prefer using a steel container and keeping it in the kitchen which is the warmest place in my house (room temperature is usually between 28 to 35degrees Celsius).
During winter keep this batter in the oven with the small bulb light on.
- An aunt of mine said when scooping the batter to pour onto the pan, take only the top layer that is the bubbly layer. Supposedly it gives the appam than fluffed sponginess. I have not tried this but maybe it helps.

P.S. I had to make my appam early today and I did not have time to prep my appam chatti and instead used my dosa kal, hence the dosa like appams!

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