Sunday, September 09, 2012


Those who are fond of South Indian snacks drool over Idli and Dosai (commonly referred to in Mumbai as Dosa). The Udipi restaurants in Mumbai have given an unprecedented popularity to these iconic dishes from the South. The South Kanara restaurateurs who saw a business opportunity in this fast food deserve all the credit. Idli and Dosa joints are galore in Mumbai, thanks to the Shettys and Kamaths. These quick-service joints serve a wide variety of Dosas which include plain, masala, rava, and mysore  besides rava idlis and kancheepuram idlis too!

I & D have become international as well and have caught the fancy of discerning food-lovers. The Saravana Group  has many restaurants in the US and UK. It is a heaven sent for home-sick South Indian students in the US. In 2004, when I was in California, our daughter L took us to a restaurant where I had a masala dosai about two feet in length. Gujeratis have almost made these South indian snacks part of their staple food. These days, there are many stores mainly in the major cities where I & D batter is sold, easing the drudgery of making them. They fly like hot cakes.

Where does Aappam fit in this scenario? It belongs to the same genre as I & D. It is quintessentially a Kerala innovation. Syrian Christians have perfected the art of making aappams. They imbibed the art of making this difficult dish from the Jews who migrated to Kerala hundreds of years ago.The method of preparation of the batter is almost similar to that of idli and dosai though the ingredients vary. Aappam is prepared in an aappamchetty. It is a small and deep cast-iron kadai. My wife S coming from Madurai (closer to Kerala) is an expert. She has now taught our talented new cook P to prepare Aappam. A fortnight or so ago P prepared them for breakfast.
The recipe and the procedure are as under: ( Courtesy Tarla Dalal)

1 1/2 cup parboiled rice
1 coconut
2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup steamed rice
1/2 tsp dry yeast
oil for frying
salt to taste

Soak rice overnight and drain the water in the morning. Grate coconut,add water and take out coconut milk. Mix parboiled rice and cooked rice and add a little coconut, milk and grind. Add sugar,balance coconut milk and salt. mix the yeast with a little warm water, add to the rice paste and mix very well. Keep covered for 3 hours. Slowly rotate the Aappam chetty so that the batter is spread thin on the sides and the middle remains thick.Gentle swirls will ensure that excess batter remains in the centre-soft and spongy. serve it hot with coconut milk or stew. Cover and cook for 1 minute. The middle part will be swollen and sides thin and crisp and browney. It will look like a I & D combo. Fluffy in the centre and brown lace border are the hallmarks of a well made aappam. It is the cook's pride and the neighbour's envy.

Aappam is generally taken with coconut milk or a kurma as an 'accoutrement'. There are some who prefer to take them with thuvaiyal or saambaar.Three Cheers to the 'Queen of Kerala breakfast dishes'! as it is popularly known amongst Malayaalees. Will it become as popular as its siblings, I & D ? The jury is still out on this subject.

And finally how did our cook P fare?  As you can she from the pictures above, she kept it fluffy in the center and a thin and brown crisp lace in the outer periphery. Hallmarks of a well-cooked Aappam. I loved the Aappam and asked for many helpings.

She passed the test with flying colours.