Saturday, September 01, 2007
When I saw that the topic for the current JFI was “Rice” I was thinking, I have posted all my favorite rice recipes. What can I post when I have already posted Palpayasam, the king of rice recipes and Idichu Pizhinja Payasam which is an all time favorite of all Kerala Iyers and in particular Puthucodians and now of many others . Our elder son suggested Idiyaappam or Noolpittu and Aappam.
Neither of the above is a Kerala Iyer specialty. In fact, I had never heard of these two items until our elder son started going to school. In school he had a close Malayalee friend, Krishnakumar, who used to bring aappam for lunch. Our son used to come home and ask me to give him, white dosa for his lunch. I only knew the conventional dosa and I tried making them white in color, by under cooking them. He used to say, “Amma, this is not the one, make white dosas for me”. This continued and it was not until I took up a full time job and I had malayalee colleagues, that I came to know about this secret of this white dosa. The white dosa he was referring to was Aappam and I got the recipe from the colleagues and started preparing them to my son’s delight. Our younger son never liked it though, as his liking was always roast dosa. Then I realized the reason why this preparation never entered the orthodox kitchens of Kerala Iyers. The main reason is the fermentation agent most commonly used in the preparation of the batter. Usually an alcohol prepared from the coconut palm (fresh toddy, country liquor or kallu ) was used in the fermentation process. Therefore, it is also referred to as Kallappam, Kallu being the name by which such alcoholic preparations are known. Even the mention of the word Kallu was banned in Iyer households in the olden days, let alone bringing it home for fermenting the dough. Now coconut water kept overnight, or yeast is used as the fermenting agent. Use of these items in Iyer households is no longer taboo and therefore this recipe. Partaking of this fresh toddy early in morning is quite common among the non-brahmin communities in the villages even today. Moreover cooked rice kept overnight (which also ferments) is also added during the grinding, which was taboo in the orthodox kitchens (pazhaya satham).
Aappam is a typical Kerala breakfast item and is comparatively oil free and full of vitamin B as it has been fermented. Usually train travelers from other parts of India travelling to Kerala, are greeted by Chaaya Velleppam as the train reaches Palghat, the first railway station in Kerala. As the train always reached Palghat early in the morning and we could reach home by breakfast time, we never even thought of trying this Velleppam. To this day, I have never tasted Velleppam other than what I myself have cooked.
As I have already mentioned, people later on started fermenting the batter with yeast and I ferment my batter with a home made toddy I prepare thus:
Whenever I break a coconut, I preserve the elaneer (coconut water) with a spoonful of sugar added to it. The next day, I make the batter for Aappam by soaking the rice in this home made fermenting solution.
Coconut : 1
(It is better to use a medium ripe coconut, as it will yield more milk. The shell of the medium ripe coconut is white in color, in contrast to the dark brown color of fully ripe coconut).
Coconut milk : 1 cup
Grated coconut : ½ cup
Yeast: 1 tsp.
Raw rice : 1 cup
Cooked rice : ¼ cup
Sugar 1 tbsp.
Salt to taste
Soda-bi carb. ½ tsp.
Make the fermenting solution thus:
Break the coconut and reserve the coconut water with a tbsp. of sugar added to it. Keep it overnight. Grate the coconut and preserve. Next day, wash and soak the rice in the reserved coconut water for 4 hours. Grind the rice, cooked rice, grated coconut and salt to a very smooth batter. Leave it overnight.
If using yeast, soak the yeast in little warm milk with a tsp. of sugar. Soak the rice in water and grind with yeast solution, grated coconut, cooked rice, sugar and salt to a smooth batter. Leave it overnight.
The aappam is prepared in a special earthenware aappa chatty (kadai) with a lid. These days, non-stick aappa chattis are available; yours truly makes it in a regular cheenachatty with satisfactory result.
Add the soda-bi-carb, just before preparing the aappams.
Heat the aappa chatty and smear with a drop of oil. Add a big ladle full of batter and swirl the kadai so that the batter spreads on all the four sides. Keep the kadai closed with a lid and cook on moderate heat. After 2 or 3 minutes open the lid and remove the puffed aappams. Repeat the process.
ENJOY WITH STEW.
Along with my recipe for Idiyappam, this is one of my entries for JFI Rice.